Former Lawyer Sentenced to Six Months for Criminal Contempt
CONCORD - William Summers, 77, of Haines City, Florida, was sentenced on Wednesday to six months in federal prison for criminal contempt, United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on March 22, 2012, Summers, who previously practiced law in the Cleveland area, was suspended from the practice of law in Ohio. Nevertheless, Summers continued to solicit clients while under suspension, including a defendant in a criminal prosecution being prosecuted in the District of New Hampshire. Summers was hired for the representation for a flat of $25,000, plus travel and local counsel expenses. Summers sold his services to the defendant as an expert litigator who could file an effective motion to suppress evidence in the case and take the case to trial if necessary. Summers did not disclose to the defendant that he was suspended from legal practice and could not appear in court.
Because Summers could not appear in court, he engaged another lawyer from Ohio who would appear in court for Summers until the suspension ended. Summers sent letters to the defendant stating falsely that he was "of-counsel" in the same law firm as the lawyer who was going to appear in court. Despite his promises, Summers never appeared in court and did not file a motion to suppress. Instead, once Summers collected his fees from the defendant and his family, Summers told the defendant that he should be plead guilty. Summers never appeared in the District of New Hampshire for the defendant.
At a later court hearing, Summers testified and intentionally sought to obstruct the administration of justice by providing misleading testimony. In particular, Summers provided misleading testimony in which he claimed to have explained to the defendant that he would not be able to appear in court for him during the case.
In addition to time in prison, Summers was ordered to pay $26,600 in restitution. Summers previously pleaded guilty on October 24, 2018.
“Attorneys are officers of the court and must adhere to the highest standards of integrity,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “By misleading a defendant and attempting to mislead the court, Mr. Summers fell short of that mark and will serve a prison sentence as a result”.
This matter was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth Aframe and Charles Rombeau.