Thunder Bay

Fort Frances, Ont., lawyer agrees to licence revocation, paying law society

A former lawyer in Fort Frances, Ont., will have to pay more than $26,000 to the Law Society of Ontario, after a penalty hearing on Monday.

Wallace Robert Crowe misappropriated $250,000 of client funds

A former lawyer in Fort Frances, Ont., agreed to the revocation of his law licence, and will reimburse the Law Society of Ontario $26,000 after misappropriating $250,000 of his clients funds. (Belenos / Shutterstock)

A former lawyer in Fort Frances, Ont., will have to pay more than $26,000 to the Law Society of Ontario, after a penalty hearing on Monday.

Wallace Robert Crowe will pay the money back to the society's compensation fund, along with $3,000 in costs. His licence to practice law has also been revoked.

Crowe, at an earlier hearing, agreed with the society that he misappropriated funds, engaged in professional misconduct, failed to maintain proper records and books, and wrote cheques knowing there were insufficient funds to cover them.

Starting in 2014, for a two year period, Crowe misappropriated about $250,000 in funds, involving numerous clients. All of the funds were in his mixed trust account, and the money was removed without the clients knowledge or authorization.

"This has been weighing heavily on me for a number of years, so I'm hoping that we can, that I can receive some closure, some finality from the panel and Law Society and, just take some steps forward," Crowe told the law society panel before a decision was delivered.

"I'm accepting full responsibility for everything that has happened."

The law society panel told Crowe to take a moment and think if he had any additional submissions, as Crowe stated he would not be calling any evidence, contrary to what he said he would do at an earlier hearing this year.

"I was extremely proud of being a lawyer. I think it's a very noble profession. One of the biggest things I feel is disappointment I have created for my family. One good thing is my son is still young, he still thinks I'm his hero. But, I live in a very small town. So, walking around, facing everyone that knows exactly what happened in a very small town it's been very difficult to move forward."

Crowe said the investigation by the law society was the "best thing" to ever happen to him, as he was on "a very terrible path."

Crowe said he had a gambling addiction and,  "At the time, when it was happening, it didn't feel real. It felt like a game, and I was trying to catch up, trying to figure everything out, and try to make ends meet."

"One of the biggest things is I apologized to all the people I was working for. Specifically the individual that had to be compensated through the law society replacement fund. That is something - and I know he has since passed as well. That is something that weighed on me constantly. That is something I cannot apologize for, I can't apologize to him, but, and that's one of the reasons why I'm here accepting what's going to happen is - this will be finally some clarity, some clearance that I can just turn the page, and say let's start fresh, let's go forward."

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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