BEFORE THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY
VSB Docket No. 00-000-1475
On May 17, 2002 this matter came on for hearing on a Rule to Show Cause and Order of Suspension and Hearing entered by the Board on January 7, 2000. The hearing was originally scheduled for January 28, 2000. On Respondent's motion it was continued pending sentencing. It again was scheduled to be heard on August 25, 2000, but the Respondent moved for a general continuance, sentencing still having not occurred. The hearing was held this day before a duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board consisting of Roscoe B. Stephenson, III, Chair, presiding, and James L. Banks, Jr., Werner H. Quasebarth, Anthony J. Trenga and H. Taylor Williams, IV.
The Clerk of the Disciplinary System sent all notices required by law.
The Respondent, Charles Daugherty Fugate, II ("Respondent" or "Mr. Fugate") appeared in person represented by Michael L. Rigsby, Esquire.
Richard E. Slaney, Esquire, Assistant Bar Counsel, appeared for the Virginia State Bar.
Tracy J. Stroh, Chandler & Halasz, P.O. Box 9349, Richmond, VA 23227, (804) 730-1222, was the reporter for the hearing and having been duly sworn, transcribed the proceedings.
The Chair opened the hearing by polling all members of the panel as to whether there existed any conflict or other reason why any member should not sit on the panel. Each, including the Chair, responded in the negative.
This proceeding arises under Part 6, Section IV, paragraph 13(E) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and its purpose is for the Board to determine whether to further suspend or revoke the Respondent's license as a result of Respondent's felony convictions entered by the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
The Virginia State Bar filed five exhibits that were received and accepted into the record without objection.
The Respondent filed one exhibit that was received and accepted into the record without objection. Respondent presented other evidence by witnesses testifying ore tenus.
Findings of Fact
The Board unanimously finds, by clear
and convincing evidence the following facts:
At all times relevant to this matter Respondent, Charles Daugherty Fugate, II, Esquire has been an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
By a Plea Agreement filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division, the Respondent pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 & 1346.
Respondent's guilty pleas were accepted and judgment was entered against him on the two above-mentioned counts on November 21, 2000. Respondent was sentenced to 15 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised probation, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $33,984.17. He reported to the federal penitentiary on January 22, 2001 and remained incarcerated there until he was released to a halfway house in Lebanon, Virginia in November, 2001. He was released from the halfway house in due course and remains on supervised probation.
Upon entry of the guilty plea Respondent was convicted of two felonies involving fraud. Said felonies are crimes as defined by the Rules of Court, Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13(A).
After the Board made its findings on the above matter, the Bar presented evidence that Respondent had no previous disciplinary record and made further argument for sanctions. Respondent also presented evidence ore tenus and made argument for purposes of the Board's consideration of sanctions. After reviewing all of the exhibits and evidence presented, the Board finds that Respondent's felony convictions represent the commission of criminal acts that reflect adversely on his fitness to practice law. The Board notes that Respondent presented compelling evidence about the circumstances of his criminal convictions, his past and present integrity and his commitment to the ethical practice of the law. The Board concluded, however, that it could not reexamine the appropriateness of the criminal convictions themselves. Therefore, the Board has before it Respondent's admission to and subsequent conviction on two serious federal felony criminal matters involving fraudulent misconduct. Despite Respondent's compelling evidence, the Board concludes that revocation of Respondent's license to practice law is the appropriate sanction under the circumstances.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the license to practice law in the Courts of this Commonwealth heretofore issued to CHARLES DAUGHERTY FUGATE, II, Esquire, be and the same is hereby REVOKED, effective May 17, 2002.
It is FURTHER ORDERED that, as directed in the Board's May 17, 2002 Summary Order in this matter, a copy of which was served on Respondent by certified mail, Respondent must comply with the requirements of Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13.K(1), of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The time for compliance with said requirements runs from the May 17, 2002 effective date of the Summary Order. All issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and arrangements required by the Summary Order shall be determined by the Board.
It is FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Disciplinary System send an attested and true copy of this Opinion Order to Respondent, Charles Daugherty Fugate, II, Highway 58 at State Route 892, Jonesville, VA 24263 and to Richard E. Slaney, Assistant Bar Counsel, Virginia State Bar 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, Virginia 23219-2800.
The Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs pursuant to Part 6, §IV, 13(K)(10) of the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court.
ENTER THIS ORDER THIS 16th DAY OF JULY, 2002
VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD
Roscoe B. Stephenson, III, Chair Designate