A Brunswick attorney who has pleaded not guilty to related theft charges has been disbarred for 10 years following multiple violations of ethical rules, including failing to provide services and nearly $400,000 in claims and other funds to at least five clients, including the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust.
James M. Whittemore, 69, of Bath, formerly of the law office of James M. Whittemore, P.A., was issued a disbarment order Nov. 30 by a single justice designated by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Superior Court Justice Nancy D. Mills, according to the Board of Overseers of the Bar.
In September, Whittemore pleaded not guilty to two counts of theft by misapplication of property and one count of theft by unauthorized taking, the Portland Press Herald reported.
The court found that Whittemore inflicted “serious harm” by intentionally violating professional conduct rules regarding conduct, competence, scope of representation, diligence, communication and general misconduct, illegal conduct, deceit/dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the administration.
Whittemore did not dispute any of the five complaints from 2017 and 2018, according to the Board of Overseers of the Bar.
He acknowledged that he received $151,981 from the Virginia Hamilton Testamentary Fund but never complied with a court order demanding he account for the assets and offered no explanation.
In another case, Whittemore settled two wrongful death claims for $100,000, received the funds but failed to notify the clients of the settlement or provide them with the funds.
In two other cases, he acknowledges that he received approximately $20,000 in retainer fees but failed to provide services. He also failed to turn over $15,000 from escrow to the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, according to the Board of Overseers of the Bar.
The beneficiaries have all filed or said they will file claims with the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection, which Whittemore will not dispute, the release states. Whittemore has said he does not have the funds to fully reimburse the claimants.
Whittemore, who opened a private practice in Brunswick in 2006, was represented by Justin Andrus.