- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2006

A judicial panel has barred D.C. lawyer Reginald J. Rogers from practicing law after an elderly widow said he befriended her, then bilked her out of her life’s savings.

The D.C. Court of Appeals found last week that Mr. Rogers “criminally misappropriated” more than $260,000 from Hattie Mae Goode, 91, after her husband died.

The appeals court ruling upheld a recommendation by the D.C. Bar.

Mr. Rogers, of Bowie, faces trial in federal court in the District next month on felony fraud charges.

Federal prosecutors say the estate lawyer used clients’ money to pay his personal expenses, including telephone and credit-card bills, college expenses and property purchases.

Mr. Rogers’ attorney, J. Michael Hannon, said he’s confident that Mr. Rogers will be found not guilty and ultimately will be reinstated by the D.C. Bar.

Mr. Hannon said the D.C. Bar generally does not move to disbar a lawyer if there is a related criminal case pending. He said Mr. Rogers did not testify in the D.C. Bar proceedings because his criminal trial had not taken place.

When the trial begins next month, it will mark the first time Mr. Rogers’ version of events will be heard, Mr. Hannon said.

“The basis for the disbarment is going to be proven faulty,” Mr. Hannon said.

The indictment against Mr. Rogers does not name Mrs. Goode by name.

However, the charging documents detail a scheme in which Mr. Rogers took money from a person whose initials are “HMG” to conceal diversions of funds from other clients.

Prosecutors also have begun forfeiture proceedings against Mr. Rogers to recoup $513,928, saying he also took funds from other unwitting clients.

Mr. Rogers has pleaded not guilty.

His attorney recently disclosed that his defense strategy would include testimony from a forensic psychologist who is “of the opinion that Mr. Rogers never intended to cheat his clients, to harm them financially or to gain financially at their expense,” according to legal filings.

Mrs. Goode, of Northeast, sued Mr. Rogers in federal court in Greenbelt last year and won a $774,908 judgment, including $500,000 in punitive damages.

Mr. Rogers did not file responses in the lawsuit, but he has filed an appeal following the default judgment.

A 28-page report by the D.C. Bar on Mr. Rogers’ case recommended in November 2004 that he be disbarred. The report includes portions of a statement by Mr. Rogers to an FBI agent investigating the case.

According to the D.C. Bar report, Mr. Rogers said he had been Mrs. Goode’s attorney since 1994.

Mrs. Goode signed a power-of-attorney document in 2000 giving Mr. Rogers authority to write checks on her behalf.

By October 2003, Mrs. Goode’s health was failing and family members sought to find out how much money she had to budget for her medical care, according to court records. When Mrs. Goode’s niece sought an accounting of the funds, Mr. Rogers did not provide information and was soon fired.

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