The Georgia Supreme Court denied a request by Atlanta bankruptcy lawyer Michael J.C. Shaw for voluntary suspension, according to The AM Law Daily. The former associate with law firm Greenberg Traurig billed $493,000 under an assumed name.
Between 2003 and 2009, he used the name of an independent investigator when billing bankruptcy clients but he performed the services himself out of the firm's Atlanta office. He also performed title examinations and other services under two additional fake names.
Greenberg promptly terminated his employment upon hearing about the scheme and reported him to the Georgia Bar.
Michael Shaw proposed a law license suspension of between six months and a year a few months ago but was rejected by the Georgia Supreme Court. His second request was for a two-to-four-year suspension but also was rejected.
Associate Justice David Nahmias wagged his finger at both Michael Shaw and the State Bar of Georgia for requesting such a light sentence, pointing out that he only stopped when he got caught:
"In my view, Michael J.C. Shaw is fortunate not to be incarcerated in a state or federal prison for the half-million-dollar fraud he perpetrated against his employer, along with related crimes such as identity theft and misuse of someone else's social security number."
In his defense, Michael Shaw said he was going through some difficult personal issues, including his claim he had trouble dealing with the deaths of his grandparents and his wife's miscarriage. He also said he believed the $526,922 in restitution he repaid Greenberg should be considered.
Paula Frederick, the Georgia Bar's general counsel, said anything short of disbarment (permanent revocation of his law license) would be unacceptable.
One of Michael Shaw's attorneys, Peter Werdesheim, only said the ruling speaks for itself.