Supreme Court disbars Crowley lawyer

Steve Korris Dec. 7, 2010, 9:31am

Louisiana Supreme Court Justices disbarred Wade Richard of Crowley, who hit his father and forged a magnetic resonance image for a drug buyer.

In an unsigned opinion on Nov. 30, five of seven Justices left a door open for Richard to regain his Louisiana license.

Dissenters Jeannette Knoll and Marcus Clark would have pulled it permanently.

Knoll called his conduct a total disgrace and his forgery reprehensible.

Clark wrote that he knocked his father down twice and committed perjury.

Richard, who took $50 for the forgery, dodged criminal prosecution by agreeing to withdraw from practice for nine months.

At oral argument in October, he pleaded innocence.

Justice Bernette Johnson asked him why he agreed to a plea.

He said he took advice of a criminal attorney and a discipline attorney.

Johnson said, "You took the plea agreement but you are innocent?"

Richard said, "I just didn't want to take that chance in front of a jury."

Knoll said, "You are not a stupid man. What on earth were you trying to do?"

Richard said, "I can't say. I was troubled."

State regulators had caught him in criminal conduct before.

The lawyer disciplinary board publicly reprimanded him in 1999, after he pleaded guilty to a charge that he stole from a client movable property worth less than $1,000.

In 2002, Acadia Parish law enforcement officers swept his office with a search warrant and seized his computer.

Grand jurors indicted him on three felony counts, finding he forged an MRI for a female companion of a man he represented on drug charges.

In 2005, he signed an agreement to withdraw from practice for nine months in exchange for the state dismissing all charges.

He hasn't practiced law since, because the disciplinary board suspended him on an interim basis while pursuing his disbarment.

In 2006, he went to the home of his father, Daniel Richard, and tried to take a gasoline can from a truck.

The father, from his porch, told the son to drop it and go away.

The son approached the father and pushed him down.

The father grabbed for the can, and the son pushed him down again.

The father went inside and dialed 911, and the son disconnected the call.

In the scuffle the father suffered a broken finger that required surgery.

The son pleaded no contest to a charge of criminal mischief, and served 30 days.

At oral argument, the Justices ignored the gas can incident and focused on the MRI.

Richard told them he was depressed and sleeping in the back of his office.

He said his client came in after hours and said he needed an MRI so his companion could obtain a prescription for Oxycontin.

"I didn't think he was going to do anything with it," Richard said.

Knoll asked if he recognized his act was very bad.

"I recognized that when the document wasn't on my
desk," Richard said.

He asked the Justices not to copy discipline from an insurance fraud case.

Knoll said, "You did worse."

She said he aided and abetted distribution of highly addictive drugs.

She said the district attorney must be very lenient.

Richard said, "I'm not saying I'm an angel, but I'm certainly better than them."

The Justices disbarred him retroactive to 2006.

"His name shall be stricken from the roll of attorneys and his license to practice law in the state of Louisiana shall be revoked," they wrote.

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