Law Firm Suddenly Closes, Leaving 10 Lawyers Jobless and Two Clients Claiming Losses
Posted Jul 23, 2012 8:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A South Carolina law firm suddenly closed its doors last month, spurring a reported FBI probe and two suits claiming ex-clients lost more than $500,000.
The Lexington, S.C., law firm of Richard J. Breibart closed last month after Breibart was indefinitely suspended by the South Carolina Supreme Court on June 1, the State reports. A trustee was appointed to handle the firm’s files and bank accounts.
The FBI has launched an investigation, according to several people who spoke to the agency about Breibart. The FBI won’t confirm the reports, according to the State.
In addition, one former client claims in a lawsuit that the firm spent more than $222,000 of her money on an unauthorized purpose, the story says. Her father claims in a separate suit that the firm has taken nearly $299,000 of his money.
The firm was known for its large Christmas parties and headline-grabbing cases. Now 10 lawyers and several support staffers are out of work. “Up until the end of May,” the story says, "those employees worked in a 14,000-square-foot office bedecked with oil paintings, framed prints, wainscoting, six large conference rooms with long wooden tables and six saltwater aquariums with tropical and African fish."
A friend of Breibart’s told the newspaper the lawyer has been hospitalized for “horrific” health problems.