Two Salt Lake attorneys already mired in an array of civil suits and personal bankruptcy are also in trouble with the Utah State Bar.
The Bar Commission is winding up a disciplinary trial for bankruptcy attorney John Richard Calder and has begun to investigate C. Dean Larsen, a Salt Lake attorney charged with violating several laws in the way he operated Granada, his real estate development business.The commission will hold hearings Dec. 2 and 3 to determine if Calder has violated the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct. The bar is considering two formal complaints against Calder brought by three clients who accuse Calder of several violations of the rules of conduct.
A screening panel from the bar's ethics and discipline committee reviewed the charges and found sufficient evidence for the disciplinary trial, said Christine A. Burdick, associate counsel for the bar. The commission has already held two days of hearings on Calder.
Depending on the seriousness of the violations, the commission may reprimand, suspend or disbar Calder.
The bar began investigating Larsen after the state attorney general's office filed 50 felony counts against him of theft, securities fraud, unlawful dealing of property by a fiduciary and offer and sale of unregistered securities.
However, preliminary investigations into Larsen's conduct are confidential, she said. The investigation does not become public until the screening panel from the ethics and discipline committee decides how serious the lawyer's violations of the rules of conduct have been.
"If the panel decides there has been a serious violation of our ethical rules that would warrant public discipline, they refer it to the next stage: the public disciplinary trial," she said.
The screening panel will make that decision in mid-December, she said.
While the bar is forging ahead with it's investigation of Larsen, the state is not. Larsen's preliminary hearing, which was scheduled for Dec. 5 at 9 a.m. in 3rd Circuit Court, has been postponed.
Both men are also having serious difficulties in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Creditors of each man have asked the court not to discharge either man's debt. In both cases, the creditors contend the men were fraudulent in dealing with the court.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John H. Allen concurred with Calder's creditors recently, concluding that Calder was knowingly fraudulent in the information he gave under oath about his finances. Because of his fraudulent actions, Allen ruled that none of Calder's debts are discharged by the bankruptcy. That means creditors can continue to pursue Calder for the money he owes them even though he has taken out bankruptcy.
After Allen ruled that Calder's debts were not discharged, Calder attempted to have his Chapter 7 bankruptcy converted to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Calder attempted the conversion to prevent the sale of his estate to pay off creditors. Instead, Calder wanted to reorganize his finances and pay off his creditors on his own under the court's guidance.
However, Allen decided Monday that Calder could not convert the Chapter 7 to a Chapter 13. Allen criticized Calder's conduct in Monday's decision. He noted that Calder filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 1981, 1984 and 1986. The filings in 1984 and 1986 were dismissed for bad faith, Allen said.
Calder filed the Chapter 7 bankruptcy later in 1986. Allen also concluded that Calder has made little effort to pay his creditors. The creditors listed in the 1984 and 1986 bankruptcies are "virtually identical," Allen wrote.
"The court is therefore convinced that the rights of the creditors are being abused," Allen said in his decision.