LAS VEGAS (AP) - A high-profile attorney in Las Vegas has agreed to a plea deal this week saying he failed to safeguard client accounts, supervise employees and respond to State Bar of Nevada requests for bank records.
Assistant bar counsel Daniel Young filed a seven-count complaint in August 2020 against Bret Whipple, accusing him of failing to competently and diligently represent clients, converting and co-mingling tens of thousands of client trust funds, failing to report theft and failing to supervise non-attorney staff, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Tuesday.
“There is a pattern of misconduct in this case,” Young said during a virtual hearing on Tuesday.
Defense attorney Michael Warhola said Whipple feels bad about his failures but noted that he already repaid all the money stolen by one of his employees from client trust funds.
“Mr. Whipple is a hardworking, honest attorney - he may be too honest - which is why we’re here today,” Warhola said. “We’re not going to be back here for any trust account issues or any employee thefts.”
Under the plea agreement, the bar will dismiss allegations that Whipple did not show competence, diligence or proper communication in his legal practice and that he allowed an employee to practice without a license.
The state Supreme Court will next decide whether to approve the plea agreement. If approved, Whipple will be placed on probation for 18 months, requiring him to hire an accounting firm to audit his accounts and pay back any missing money found during that review. Whipple’s license could be suspended for a year if he fails to successfully complete the probation.
Whipple won a seat on the Nevada Board of Regents in 2002, serving one term. He lost two reelection attempts.
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