Hearing panel backs deferred suspension for Gretna attorney over alleged trust account negligence

By Karen Kidd | May 1, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana Record) — Gretna attorney Connie Phuong Trieu faces possible suspension following a recommendation issued April 29 by a Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB) hearing committee over allegations she failed to fully disburse trust account funds.

Trieu, a real estate attorney, was found to be in "technical violation" of a profession conduct rule, which the committee found was "negligent, unintentional and mitigated," the six-page recommendation issued by LADB hearing committee No. 10 said.

The committee recommended Trieu receive a fully deferred six-month suspension and that she be required to complete an account management court. 

Hearing committee Chair Scott A. Umberger signed the recommendation, in which attorney member Sandra D. Guidry and public member Chad M. Rachel concurred.

Trieu was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on April 13, 2006, according to her profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association’s website. Trieu had no prior history of discipline.

Allegations against Trieu stemmed from a bank notice sent to the office of disciplinary counsel in September 2016 that Trieu overdrew her client trust account that month, according to the recommendation. A subsequent audit found the overdraft resulted from a lender's failure to timely wire funds associated with a real estate transaction but also identified "multiple running balances" of funds due to clients or buyers.

"Although [Trieu] corrected all of the balances after the audit period, she had still held some buyer and seller funds in her trust account for an extended period of time, in addition to the reported deposit issue," the recommendation said. Trieu also "cooperated fully" with the office of disciplinary counsel's investigation "and acknowledged, with explanation, all the charges," the recommendation said.

The hearing committee found Trieu violated the professional conduct rule, as alleged by the office of disciplinary counsel but also "found no malice, no self-dealing or fraudulent or improper motivation for her actions," the recommendation said.

All moneys eventually were disbursed but Trieu's alleged misconduct did cause "potential harm by retaining funds indefinitely in her trust account and negligently managing oversight of such account," the recommendation said.

"The committee finds [Trieu] to be sincere in her remorse and truthful in her explanation and notes that the office of disciplinary counsel did not make any assertion that her actions were anything but negligent,” the recommendation said.

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Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Louisiana State Bar Association Louisiana Supreme Court

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