David Strand has been charged with taking more than $10,000 from a trust fund belonging to a client.
The 54-year-old Decorah man, whose license to practice law in the state of Iowa was suspended last fall, was charged last week with first-degree theft. Court documents filed in Winneshiek County District Court said Strand "unlawfully and willfully" misappropriated funds in his attorney trust account belonging to the Shiloh Deal Estate, "by using or disposing of the property in a manner inconsistent with or a denial of the trust or owner's rights in the property."
The incident occurred on or about Nov. 9, 2010, in Winneshiek County.
Strand also has been charged with commission of specified unlawful activity for unlawfully and willfully committing theft, "an act for financial gain on a continuing basis" from about July 20, 2009, through Sept. 20, 2012.
Commission of unlawful activity is a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison and first-degree theft is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
On Sept. 20, the Iowa Supreme Court ordered a temporary suspension of Strand's license to practice law in the state of Iowa due to Strand's failure to cooperate with the efforts of the Client Security Commission to perform an audit of his lawyer trust account.
According to the Supreme Court's order, Strand failed to fully respond to a request for an audit employed by the Commission for trust account books and records to facilitate the audit.
On Aug. 10, the Commission issued a notice to Strand that his license to practice would be suspended unless he cured the delinquency or filed a request for a hearing with the Supreme Court to show why his license should not be suspended.
When Strand did not comply with the Commission's request and did not request a hearing, the Court suspended his license. The suspension will continue until the Commission certifies Strand has fully complied with its request, Strand files proof of compliance with the court and the court enters an order reinstating his license.
Last August, the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board filed an order of public reprimand of Strand with the Iowa Supreme Court.
The action followed a complaint from one of Strand's clients who sought compensation for injuries she sustained when she slipped on ice at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Calmar. The injuries occurred February 13, 2006, and Strand filed a petition naming NICC as defendant Feb. 13, 2008.
"You ultimately settled the matter for $750 without, however, securing the client's consent to such recovery and without notice to her of the settlement," an Oct. 6, 2011 letter from the Attorney Disciplinary Board Assistant Director Charles Harrington to Strand said.
"You thereafter deposited the proceeds to your office account instead of a trust account. Later, when the client learned of the settlement from other sources and contacted you, you paid her the sum of $750, representing the total recovery, by a check drawn on your office account."
Strand was publicly reprimanded for violating the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct by:
Failing to notify his client and promptly informing his client of a decision or circumstance which required the client's informed consent
Failing to keep his client reasonably informed on the status of her case
Failing to explain the matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit his client to make an informed decision
Failing to deposit the settlement check in a trust account
Failing to promptly advise his client of receipt of settlement proceeds.
Strand's bond has been set at $50,000, and he cannot leave the state of Iowa during his court proceedings without a court order authorizing his travel. His preliminary hearing/arraignment is set for Wednesday, May 29, at 9 a.m. in Winneshiek County District Court.