Friday, May 13, 2011

Rankin County justice served on Vann Leonard

Local attorney Vann Leonard is currently incarcerated in the Rankin County jail after a judge found him in contempt of court on May 5, 2011. Mr. Leonard was the attorney for the executrix of the estate of Bobbie Downing. Mr. Downing owned several properties. One property was sold after his death and the court permitted $111,925 to be placed in Mr. Leonard's trust account to satisfy expenses. Heir Samuel Downing asked for an accounting of the estate and the monies placed with Mr. Leonard. Mr. Downing filed a motion October 8, 2010 to compel an accounting of the estate. Mr. Downing pointed out Bobbie Downing died in 2005 and the estate still had not been inventoried due to the failure of the executrix and Vann Leonard to provide any information about the funds and accounts in their possession. The parties agreed to an order on December 10 to provide the accounting within thirty days (File is posted below.).

Well, what do you know but here comes Vann Leonard on January 4, 2011 with the "dog ate my homework" excuse. Mr. Leonard you see, would have loved to provide the accounting of the funds. He really wanted to help the court. The only problem is "On December 26, 2010, he discovered that his computer would not "start up" correctly, nor would it allow him to retrieve files recently stored on said computer." He even provided an affidavit from a techie signed on December 31, 2010 stating such was the case. Mr. Leonard asked for an extension to January 25, 2011.

April 15 rolled around and there was still no accounting by Mr. Leonard of the money deposited in his trust account. Mr. Downing filed a petition for an emergency hearing and temporary restraining order on April 15, 2011 (page 14 of the linked file). Mr. Downing argued the money was "in jeapordy of being stolen" after he learned of Mr. Leonard's conviction for embezzlement in the Shirley Douglas bankruptcy case and the lawsuit accusing him of embezzling proceeds from a life insurance policey meant for a widow in Madison County (I can't imagine how they found out about any of these events.). Mr. Downing asked for an immediate accounting, a return of all monies by Mr. Leonard, and a freezing of the estate's assets.

Mr. Leonard was notified of the hearing by telephone, fax, and email. The court granted the request on April 15 and froze all trust/escrow accounts of Mr. Leonard. Mr. Downing then filed a motion for contempt against Mr. Leonard on April 21. The motion accused Mr. Leonard of failing to comply with the order and that at a hearing on April 18 removing him as counsel for the executrix, he "would not provide any information regarding the subject funds or his trust account." The executrix also stated Mr. Leonard had not returned to her any documents about the estate. Mr. Downing asked the court to imprison Mr. Leonard and freeze his assets.

The court found Mr. Leonard in contempt of court and ordered his immediate incarceration in the Rankin County jail. The court decreed he will not be released until he pays the $111,925 to the court, provides all documents provided to him by the estate, and pays Mr. Downing $1,500 for attorney's fees. The court also froze all of his assets. This correspondent confirmed yesterday afternoon in a visit to the jail Mr. Leonard is still imprisoned.

Unfortunately, the damage inflicted by Mr. Leonard on others does not stop with this case. Anita Naik and Hitesh Desai filed suit against Mr. Leonard in Madison County Circuit Court on May 3, 2011. The plaintiffs state they placed $125,000 in Mr. Leonard's trust account in June 2008 and loaned him $148,150 in 2009. Mr. Desai also deposited another $89,192 in 2010 in his trust account. The monies were placed into his account for the purchase of properties and buildings as part of plaintiff's real estate transactions. No money has been repaid and the plaintiffs claim they fear "the funds may no longer be available." They seek an accounting of Mr. Leonard's trust account and a return of all money given to Mr. Leonard. The suit claims total damages of $362,342 and accuses Mr. Leonard of "unjust enrichment" and "legal malpractice." Copy of Complaint

However, Mr. Leonard's problems still do not stop here. Fannie Mae filed suit against him on May 5. Actually Fannie Mae filed a "complaint for possession" of his home on 107 Brighton Lane in Ridgeland. Fannie Mae foreclosed on the home and bought it at a sheriff's sale on March 10, 2011. Fannie Mae seeks possession of the home and damages for costs incurred in taking possession. Copy of complaint.

Now the question is does the federal court in North Mississippi where he pleaded guilty revoke his bond prior to sentencing since he apparently can't stay out of trouble? Better yet, will Michael Guest actually prosecute this guy?

Earlier posts on Vann Leonard:
Vann Leonard pleads guilty
Another client accuses Vann Leonard of stealing
Vann Leonard to plead guilty
Leonard and Schwartz accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Anonymous said...

is the site back up? did we miss anything since Wednesday?

Kingfish said...

I hope so. Google had a major redesign of blogger. Crashed the whole system so it was in read only mode and posts yesteday disappeared. They are supposedly going to restore them but I"m taking no chances and putting the posts back up myself. Bear with me for thirty minutes.

Anonymous said...

Glad you are back.....going into withdrawal here...

Anonymous said...

KF, will there be any more updates about disciplinary action against attorneys? I appreciated you posting those.

Anonymous said...

What do you think got into Vann L? I knew him in law school and would not have predicted this behavior? Any thoughts on what might have caused him to go in this unfortunate direction with multiple clients??

Anonymous said...

What was he using all that money for?

Anonymous said...

Stress from practicing law leads to depression and anxiety, which leads to self medication with alcohol/drugs/gambling/sex/etc., which eventually spins out of control, and you crater. Happens every day, and even happens to good people. This is not news. The story is: why does the Mississippi Bar keep sending me pious emails about "restoring" the public's faith in attorneys when they didn't do ANYTHING to keep this walking train wreck out of the courtroom and away from the public, AFTER he had already plead guilty to embezzlement?

Ironghost said...

Prosecute a lawyer? Fat chance.

Anonymous said...

It is a LAWYER system - not a LEGAL system. Glad we are being better informed - thanks to patriots like KF.

Anonymous said...

This may be a dumb question, but how can he turn over the money and documents if he's in jail? He might be able to find someone to gather the documents, but you would think he'd have to take care of the banking personally.

Kingfish said...

That was one of the arguments he used to stay free pending sentencing up in N. Mississippi. We see how that turned out, don't we?

Anonymous said...

Vann doesn't say anything that is true. Two weeks ago he was telling one of our neighbors that the bank was allowing them to stay in the house until June. According to your post legal documents filed by the bank would suggest otherwise.

Marsha said...

Kingfish, who was the judge?

Anonymous said...

just kidding..

Micah said...

I thought that was some old rocka and roll band...

Kingfish said...

I think Grant.

Anonymous said...

I would hope that attorneys who find taking the law into their own hands with frivolous filings and loose ties to facts would loath to find their name posted here.

Anonymous said...

So glad you're back. The National Enquirer costs too much.

Anonymous said...

Where did Vann Leonard go to law school?

Raven said...

What was his sentence for repeated stealing?

Anonymous said...

The estate of Bobbie C Downing : the executrix is a victim of this man!

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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