Former assistant parish DA arrested

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 2, 2012



LAPLACE – A LaPlace lawyer and former St. John the Baptist Parish assistant district attorney, who was once assigned as legal advisor to the parish council, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing more than $58,000 meant as a settlement for an elderly client, according to authorities with State Police.

State Troopers assigned to the Bureau of Investigations arrested Kerry Brown, 40, in LaPlace Wednesday morning. State Police spokesperson Melissa Matey said Brown turned himself in after an arrest warrant was issued stemming from an investigation executed in March. Brown was booked with forgery, monetary instrument abuse and theft of assets from an aged or disabled person.

Matey said Brown represented an elderly victim of a motor vehicle crash and settled a lawsuit out of court in April 2010 for $99,235. Brown apparently failed to notify his client of the settlement, forged the victim’s name on numerous checks and deposited those checks into his law firm’s trust account. Authorities said Brown then wrote multiple checks to himself from that account, $58,041.09 of which belonged to the elderly client.

At the time of the alleged incident, Brown was an employee of the St. John District Attorney’s Office and also operated his own private practice as a personal injury attorney. Brown left the district attorney’s office, where he was assigned to Division B, in November of last year. Brown ran for St. John District Attorney in 2008 but was defeated by current District Attorney Tom Daley.

In December, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board temporarily suspended Brown from practicing law after the state Supreme Court declared Brown had displayed a pattern of violations of the court’s Rules of Professional Conduct. The board’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel began investigating Brown after finding overdrafts on his trust account, which is used to deposit money received on behalf of clients.

Charles Plattsmier, chief disciplinary counsel for the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, said the investigation revealed Brown may have been pocketing money that was supposed to be directed toward medical bills as part of client settlements. Investigators also found that Brown may have resolved claims without the clients’ knowledge and kept the money.

Plattsmier said in January that his office had received complaints regarding Brown that involved money totaling about $85,000 at the time. He said Wednesday that the investigation is ongoing and that the office continues to uncover possible wrongdoing. He explained that when complaints of attorney misconduct are filed to the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel, the board examines the nature of the misconduct and the credibility of the evidence. The board also determines if there is a pattern of misconduct displayed by the attorney accused.

“Mr. Brown’s conduct reflected a pattern of improper actions,” Plattsmier said.

Plattsmier said his office would wait for further investigation to decide whether to file formal charges that could lead to disbarment. Brown was booked into the Sherman Walker Correctional Center in LaPlace, and was released Thursday on $150,000 bail.