The Texas State Bar held a hearing recently to determine if Houston attorney and former San Antonio councilman Bernardo Eureste should be disbarred because of his 2002 federal conviction for fraud.
In June 2002, U.S. District Court Judge Lee Rosenthal sentenced Eureste to three years’ probation for workers’ compensation fraud-related charges. He also ordered Eureste to pay $108,486 in restitution to Texas Mutual Insurance Company and pay restitution to three former workers’ compensation clients, in amounts ranging from approximately $975 to $2,067.
At the hearing, Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Michael McClendon said Eureste had stolen from his clients, many of whom were poorly educated, lower income injured workers. McClendon declared that Eureste’s offenses must be met with disbarment.
“Did you do less work than you billed for?” McClendon asked pointedly.
“No, sir,” answered Eureste; however, when a bar panel member asked if Eureste agreed with Judge Rosenthal’s finding that he had charged “unconscionable fees,” he answered, “Yes.” Another bar panel member compared it to “charging lawyer fees for paralegal services.”
McClendon used testimony from Elliott Flood, vice president of Special Investigations at Texas Mutual Insurance Company, to support his call for disbarment. Responding to McClendon’s questions, Flood estimated that Eureste had reportedly over-billed his clients by as much as $1.4 million in a one-year period.
“This [case] was unique in my experience,” said Flood, a long-time investigator and former workers’ compensation attorney himself.
The bar panel determined to take the matter under advisement. They are expected to issue a decision this week.
Was this article valuable?
Here are more articles you may enjoy.