When Freddie King III led the constituent services of the New Orleans City Council District C office, he also worked in the moonlight to manage fender pliers, wills, and tickets in his law office. private.
King cited both his 2014-2017 experience in the District C office under the leadership of former City Council member Nadine Ramsey and his success in building a law firm as reasons to vote for him in as the next member of the C district council.
But King’s mismanagement of his private client funds while he worked for Ramsey resulted in a two-year probation by the Louisiana Attorney’s Disciplinary Board.
Ultimately, the board, which is investigating potential ethics violations by licensed attorneys, determined that King had no dishonest or self-serving motives and did not suspend his license. Yet King admitted he broke professional conduct rules by failing to keep clients’ money in a separate trust account and inappropriately mixing client settlement funds with that of his law firm. .
King completed his probation in August 2019 and is currently eligible to practice law.
“It was a minor incident that didn’t hurt anyone. It just showed me that you have to have these checks and balances, so that these mistakes don’t happen again, ”King said on Monday.
King dominated the primary of all seven contenders for the District C race on Nov. 13, garnering 44 percent of the vote and placing him in a good position for the Dec. 11 second round against runner-up Stephanie Bridges. Bridges, also a lawyer, finished with 16%.
While Bridges garnered support from other major challengers, King received high-level endorsements from Governor John Bel Edwards, U.S. Representative Troy Carter, and Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
When asked about disciplinary action taken against King, Bridges said “the record speaks for itself” and declined to comment further.
King was called to the bar in 2011 after graduating from the Southern University Law Center. During the investigation into his handling of clients’ money, he told investigators that he did not understand that he had to maintain separate accounts for business transactions and client funds until he is taking an ethics course in early 2016.
After that, he transferred the trust account balance to his business account, assuming those funds were fees owed to him.
“I wanted to, I guess to start over, withdraw all the money that I thought was mine, which is all the money in the account,” King said in an affidavit.
A forensic audit found that King had withdrawn over $ 235,000 from the trust account, with just under half of that being used for client-related expenses. When investigators asked King what documents led him to believe the trust funds were fees owed to him, King replied that he did not have any.
“I just thought it was quiet for a while, all that’s left is mine, everyone’s spent their money,” King said at the time.
But soon after, in February 2016, a customer paycheck for $ 4,900 was rejected, triggering the audit. King promptly paid the client and the Disciplinary Board determined that no other clients were injured. He said he had since hired an accountant.
King said his full-time day job responding to the concerns of constituents in District C was unaffected by his private legal work at night and on weekends. There was never a conflict of interest and his workload was low, he said.
“I would never put myself or anyone else in a situation of conflict, or even a hint of conflict,” King said.