Attorney from Savage disbarred for misusing clients' funds

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 10, 2014 - 2:34 AM

An attorney from Savage was disbarred Wednesday for misappropriating more than $130,000 of his clients’ money.

The state Supreme Court’s order to disbar Thomas G. Harrigan came after the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action.

According to the court’s order, Harrigan was disbarred because of the substantial amount of money involved, his misrepresentation of his actions to the client and his failure to cooperate with the disciplinary investigation. It also cited several aggravating factors, including the vulnerable nature of his clients, his failure to acknowledge wrongdoing, and his “selfish and dishonest motive.”

Last year, 11 attorneys were disbarred in the state of Minnesota. A disbarred attorney can be reinstated, but it rarely happens. There isn’t a set minimum time in which a disbarred attorney can apply for reinstatement.

Harrigan, 58, who has practiced law since 1981, hasn’t been the subject of any prior discipline.

The misconduct involved two clients, a 75-year-old secretary whom Harrigan helped with retirement finances and a 20-year-old student who was injured in a car accident.

He took more than $100,000 from the secretary’s trust account without her knowledge and falsely told her the money was frozen, according to the court’s disbarment order.

He also paid $24,000 to himself from a fund he set up for the injured student. When she learned about the theft, she testified to the referee who heard evidence about the disciplinary petitions that “these events have caused her to lose trust in others.”

The referee noted that Harrigan offered no defense other than unsupported general assertions in his answers. The court order also said Harrigan’s misconduct caused harm not only to his clients, but to the general public and the legal profession.

 

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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