News and Information
June 29, 2022

Virginia State Bar Clients’ Protection Fund Board Pays $79,871.40 on Twelve Petitions

The Virginia State Bar Clients’ Protection Fund Board authorized payments totaling $79,871.40 in reimbursement to former clients of eight Virginia attorneys at its April 22, 2022, meeting.

The board awarded a $15,000 payment for misappropriation of trust funds. The board found that the attorney, Michael Anthony Cole (deceased) of South Boston, paid himself $47,000 out of the clients’ trust during the two years he was Trustee, while paying the sole beneficiary a much smaller amount. A surety bonding company covering Cole’s duties as Trustee agreed to pay a significant sum of the misappropriated funds to the beneficiary, but not the $15,000 paid out before the effective coverage date of the bond. Cole’s license was revoked effective February 2020; he died in June 2020.

The board approved a payment of $1,100 to a former client of Charles John Covati of Roanoke. The board found that Covati had no basis to charge a fee to try and correct his undisclosed malpractice in a divorce matter. Covati’s license to practice law in Virginia was revoked by consent in August 2021.

The board awarded a payment of $643.90 to a former client of Franklin C. Coyner (deceased) of Stuarts Draft. The board found that Coyner did not do sufficient work to earn the $1,500 fee in a zoning matter. After Coyner died in June 2020, the Augusta County Circuit Court appointed a receiver to wind down Coyner’s law practice and refund unearned fees to clients. The receiver paid the petitioner $856.10 from the funds in Coyner’s law firm accounts; the fund approved paying the petitioner the remaining $643.90 of the attorney’s fee.

Five former clients of Jonathan Preston Fisher of Blacksburg were awarded $2,290, $4,500, $1,250, $5,000, and $3,250 by the board. One client was awarded $1,250 for partial reimbursement of a $2,500 fee for a traffic matter in which Fisher appeared in court one time and did other work on the case, but not enough work to earn the entire fee. The remaining four former clients were reimbursed for unearned fees in DUI or traffic cases. The board found that Fisher did not do sufficient work to earn any of the fees he charged in these cases. Fisher’s license was revoked in May 2021.

A petitioner received $2,000 as full reimbursement for fees paid to Jon Edward Shields of Manassas. The board found that Shields did no significant work on a DSS proceeding on behalf of the client. Shields’s license was revoked effective October 2020.

The board awarded $1,500 to a former client of Jahangir Ghobadi of Sterling in a child custody matter. After being retained, Ghobadi performed no legal services and failed to inform the client of the revocation of his license. Ghobadi’s license was revoked effective June 2019.

A petitioner, executor of an estate of a deceased relative, received $7,500 as reimbursement to the estate for fees the relative paid to David Gary Hoffman of Fairfax. The fees were to cover two aspects of the legal representation: estate planning and estate administration, which Hoffman called “post-mortem” services. The board found that Hoffman completed the estate planning services, but that the executor of the decedent’s estate did not hire Hoffman to administer the estate, so Hoffman did not earn the advanced fee for estate administration the deceased client had paid. Hoffman’s license was revoked effective December 2021.

The board approved payment of $35,837.50 to a petitioner who paid the lawyer’s fee for representation of a family member in a criminal case. The board had previously approved the claim, but the attorney, Carl Christen La Mondue of Norfolk, requested a reconsideration of that decision. On reconsideration, the board affirmed prior findings that La Mondue charged a flat fee of $50,000 to represent the client in a federal criminal case, but that he had done very little work in the matter before he withdrew from the representation. The board acknowledged that La Mondue had given the petitioner a partial refund of $14,162.50. La Mondue’s license was revoked effective April 2021.

Docket Number

Lawyer’s Name

City of Record

Amount Paid

Type of Case


Michael Anthony Cole - Deceased

South Boston, VA




Charles John Covati

Roanoke, VA


Unearned Fee/Family Law


Franklin C. Coyner – Deceased

Stuarts Draft, VA


Unearned Fee/Zoning


Jahangir Ghobadi

Sterling, VA


Unearned Fee/Family Law


David Gary Hoffman

Fairfax, VA


Unearned Fee/Estate Planning, Administration


Carl Christian La Mondue

Norfolk, VA


Unearned Fee/Criminal Law


Jonathan Preston Fisher 

Blacksburg, VA 


Unearned Fee/Traffic Offenses


Jonathan Preston Fisher 

Blacksburg, VA 


Unearned Fee/Traffic Offenses


Jonathan Preston Fisher 

Blacksburg, VA 


Unearned Fee/Traffic Offenses


Jonathan Preston Fisher

Blacksburg, VA


Unearned Fee/Traffic Offenses


Jonathan Preston Fisher

Blacksburg, VA


Unearned Fee/Traffic Offenses


Jon Edward Shields

Manassas, VA


Unearned Fee/Family Law

The Clients’ Protection Fund was created by the Supreme Court of Virginia in 1976 to reimburse persons who suffer a quantifiable financial loss because of dishonest conduct by a Virginia lawyer whose law license has been suspended or revoked for disciplinary reasons, or who has died and did not properly maintain client funds. The fund is not taxpayer funded but is supported by Virginia lawyers who pay an annual fee of $5. Payments from the Clients’ Protection Fund are discretionary and are not a matter of right. 

If you have any questions, you may contact Vivian R. Byrd, administrator to Clients’ Protection Fund by email at (804) 775-0572.

Updated: Jun 29, 2022