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Disbarred lawyer facing 30 criminal charges

|Written By Michael McKiernan

A former London, Ont.-area lawyer has been charged with 30 criminal offences relating to more than $1 million in missing funds more than a year after his disbarment by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Alec John Dobson is accused of 11 counts of breach of trust; 11 counts of theft of entrusted monies over $5,000; and a further eight counts of uttering falsified documents.

The 56-year-old was due to appear in court on Jan. 14, the same day police picked him up and charged him. None of the criminal allegations have been proven in court.

According to Const. Dennis Rivest, the fraud section at the London Police Service began investigating Dobson in the summer of 2008 “in regards to his professional business practices.” He ran a legal practice in the village of Dorchester, Ont., about 20 kilometres east of London.

Dobson had run into trouble with his law practice before. Around the same time, the law society suspended him on an interim interlocutory basis while it prepared for a hearing on his misconduct.  

More than a year later, on Nov. 24, 2009, the LSUC revoked Dobson’s licence after a panel made 17 separate findings of misconduct against him related to a number of mortgage transactions.

It found he had removed money from the trust accounts of six sets of clients and misled them by telling them he had used the funds to pay out mortgages when he had in fact used them for another purpose.

One client, known only as S.D., contacted Dobson to ask why he was still paying interest on a line of credit. But according to the LSUC, Dobson hadn’t actually paid off the line of credit as instructed by S.D.

Two more clients, J.P. and M.P., had the proceeds of their sale broken down in a reporting letter detailing payments to cover an existing mortgage, a real estate commission, and a bridge loan. None of the payments, however, had been made.

According to the law society, Dobson sent another set of clients, M.L. and L.L., a false copy of a cancelled cheque to back up his claim that he had paid out an existing mortgage.

Later, he admitted to them that the mortgage hadn’t been paid out but insisted a new bank draft had been issued to cover the amount. That was also false.

The panel also found Dobson guilty of misconduct for failing to maintain proper books and records related to three of the trust accounts as well as misleading a law society investigator assigned to the case.

The LSUC ordered Dobson, who represented himself at the hearing, to pay $5,000 in costs to it. It also made him cover the $158,000 cost of grants made to complainants from its compensation fund.

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