When former local attorney Timothy Moses withdrew from practice in the federal courts of the Southern District of Georgia in August 2015 because he stole more than $77,000 from his former law firm, Hull, Towill, Norman, Barrett & Salley, the news stunned most of Augusta.
After all, Moses had made the “Best Lawyers in America” list for several years in a row, managed former Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s two campaigns, been active in several community organizations and served on the Richmond County Board of Elections.
All of a sudden, he was being accused of stealing from the Hull Barrett law firm, where he had worked from 1994 until he resigned in 2011.
Less than a year later, the South Carolina Supreme Court disbarred Moses because of the “severity” of his misconduct.
In the South Carolina Supreme Court’s April 20, 2016, opinion, the details of Moses’ actions were laid out in great detail.
Apparently, after Moses abruptly resigned from the Hull Barrett law firm in 2011, the attorneys in the practice became suspicious after a client contacted the firm and claimed to have received a bill for $500 from Moses asking for the client to pay him directly for legal services.
The client knew that the firm typically sent him a direct bill for the services and found Moses’ request to be odd.
In October of 2011, one of the partners in the firm confronted Moses about the billing abnormality.
At first, Moses feigned ignorance about the bill, but by the next day he admitted to the partner that he had sent the bill to the Hull Barrett law firm’s client.
Apparently, Moses told the partners that he was “embarrassed and horrified” by the fact that he may have accidentally deposited the check into his personal account.
In fact, Moses allegedly told the partners that it “caused [him] fits,” and kept him up at night after “discovering” that he had in fact deposited the check.
As a result, Moses agreed to repay the $500, plus interest to the firm.
But red flags were already raised.
The firm’s executive committee was suspicious about the “error” and hired a computer forensics expert to examine Moses’ laptop to ascertain whether there were other instances of improper billing.
The forensic examination uncovered approximately $77,000 in improper invoices, dating from August 2009 through September 2011.
The computer expert also testified there had been two attempts to “scrub,” or completely erase, the computer’s hard drive.
The expert said those attempts were largely successful, as there was evidence of other invoices that could not be recovered.
After discovering the extent of Moses’ actions, the firm immediately filed complaints against him in both Georgia and South Carolina.
By March 2012, Moses hired an attorney after becoming aware that he was being investigated. As a result, he finally admitted to the theft and offered to repay the money he stole from the firm.
But the Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed formal charges against Moses in March 2013 relating to matters such as conduct involving dishonesty and demonstrating an unfitness to practice law.
Amazingly, during his hearing, Moses had some very prominent character witnesses in his defense, such as former Augusta Mayor Bob Young, local attorney John Bell and Dan Sisson, former chairman of Leadership Georgia and Leadership South Carolina.
According to the South Carolina Supreme Court, the witnesses testified that Moses’ “deceptive conduct was out of character” and he was “extremely remorseful for engaging in it.”
In fact, the men testified that they did not expect Moses to “engage in similar misconduct in the future and they still had the utmost trust in him.”
After stealing from his own firm and trying to “scrub” the evidence from his computer records, they had the “utmost trust” in Moses?
After all, the firm could only prove that he stole $77,000. He agreed to repay the firm more than $80,000.
But chances are there were other inaccurate billings made by Moses over the more than 15 years that he worked for the Hull Barrett law firm.
They just couldn’t prove it.
The truth is, Moses is very lucky he is not sitting in prison right now.
Instead, the South Carolina Supreme Court simply disbarred Moses in April 2016.
While it was professionally devastating for Moses, he should be counting his blessings.
By September 2016, the Georgia Supreme Court accepted the voluntary surrender of Moses’ license to practice law.
These days Moses is the proud operator of several local Bojangles restaurants and enjoying the local social scene and elegant parties, such as attending the 2016 Symphony Guild Cotillion of debutantes.
No harm done, right?
Not by a long shot.
In fact, Moses is currently suing at least one of his former clients for an outstanding bill he has been holding over her head.
It was a $15,000 bill that he claims she owes him, even after he was disbarred.
The client, who is an upstanding widow of a well-respected family, was outraged after receiving the bill.
She wished to remain anonymous in this Insider because she doesn’t want to cause her family any additional pain, but because of Moses’ actions, she was forced to settle her case involving her family’s business because Moses’ reputation and legal research was immediately called into question after being disbarred.
This client, who is the mother of two children, couldn’t face starting an entire case over again, so she was forced to settle and accept what she could get from the opposing side.
Despite her great disappointment involving her own case, she did not pursue any legal action against Moses.
She simply wanted him to go away.
But, instead, Moses actually had the nerve to file a civil claim against her trying to collect approximately $15,000 for legal services rendered to her.
Has Moses lost his mind?
Whether he had a valid contract with this particular client or not, Moses was clearly too preoccupied with his own legal problems to provide her adequate representation.
And the fact that all of his legal work for her case was immediately called into question should pretty much negate the bill, right?
Moses’ civil claim against his client is scheduled to be heard by Judge William Jennings in the very near future.
Let’s just hope that Judge Jennings realizes that Moses was clearly in the wrong and this particular client shouldn’t have to fork over one more penny to a lawyer who has been disgraced, disbarred and now has the ego to pursue an outstanding bill.
It’s completely outrageous.
Moses should concentrate on frying up those chicken legs and making those buttermilk biscuits and leave the lawyering up to the real legal professionals.