Lafayette attorney disbarred after stealing almost $40,000, admitting to opioid addiction

By Karen Kidd | Oct 21, 2017

Louisiana State Supreme Court building  

Lafayette attorney Adam Anthony Abdalla has been disbarred following an Oct. 18 Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary proceeding following allegations he had stolen nearly $40,000 from his former employer.

Abdalla admitted to the theft and told the state bar he was suffering an opioid addiction at the time, according to the high court's 20-page disciplinary proceeding. Abdalla, who has been on interim suspension since October 2014, also was ordered to pay all costs and expenses plus interest, according to the proceeding.

Justices Jefferson Davis Hughes, James T. Genovese and Scott J. Crichton dissented from the majority decision to disbar Abdalla. Crichton, in his dissent included with the disciplinary proceeding, said he found the sanction "unduly harsh", that the majority "inappropriately disregards the mitigating factors in this case" and that he would have imposed a three-year undeferred suspension.

"Addiction is no different than any other disease, including depression, a fact the majority appears to have declined to consider," Crichton said in his dissent.

In March, the state bar's office of disciplinary counsel (ODC) recommended Abdalla be disbarred.

Abdalla was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on Oct. 13, 2006, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar's website. Abdalla had no other discipline before the state bar, according to the disciplinary proceeding.

Abdalla was employed by Andrus, Boudreaux, Landry & Coussan in Lafayette when, in September 2014, the ODC received a complaint alleging that Abdalla had converted funds from the firm. Abdalla admitted to writing multiple unauthorized checks to himself from the firm's client escrow account, creating fraudulent invoices and instructing clients to pay him directly, according to the disciplinary proceeding.

Abdalla also admitted he stole the funds "to support a drug habit as he routinely used hydrocodone and is addicted to same," the disciplinary proceeding said. After the complaint was filed, Abdalla voluntarily enrolled in and successfully completed a 90-day addiction recovery program, according to the disciplinary proceeding. Abdalla also reimbursed the firm for all the funds he had converted, in addition to expenses incurred for attorney's fees and accounting costs, the proceeding said.

No criminal charges are pending against Abdalla, according to the proceeding.

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