This member of the Bar is also behind bars

by Carey Spivak and Dan Bice
Dec. 13, 2003

Charles Hausmann gives new meaning to the term jailhouse lawyer.

Though he pleaded guilty back in June 2002 to defrauding some 200 clients out of $70,000, Hausmann is still a licensed attorney.

The only catch: Since Nov. 28, he's been a guest of the federal government, and he will continue living in a cell at the minimum security federal prison in Oxford until late January.

Despite his conviction and earlier admission that he violated professional ethics, state regulators have yet to take any type of action against Hausmann's law license. Recent mailings that the law firm of Hausmann-McNally sent to accident victims who may need a lawyer listed Hausmann as the top name on the letterhead. Attorneys from the firm, which was not implicated in the wrongdoing, did not return our calls.

In fact, if you were to call the State Bar of Wisconsin and ask whether Hausmann was an OK guy, as we did Friday, here's what a chirpy receptionist would tell you:

"Mr. Hausmann was admitted to the Bar in 1971. He's in good standing and has no disciplinary action against him."

And if you happened to check - a respected national directory of lawyers - you might well be impressed by Hausmann's ethics rating. The convicted barrister scored an "AV," which the site defines as indicating "very high to preeminent legal ability and very high ethical standards as established by confidential opinions from members of the Bar."

Guess those exalted Bar members weren't aware of the corrupt deal that Hausmann cooked up with a local chiropractor.

Hausmann and Scott Rise arranged for the lawyer to send clients to the doc, who kicked back 20% of the fees to Hausmann's favorite charities. According to the indictment, some of the money that went to Career Youth Development, a non-profit social services agency, ended up paying for landscaping work in Hausmann's own backyard.

After pleading guilty, Hausmann appealed the conviction, arguing that he didn't pocket any cash, though he admitted violating professional ethics - all of which has been in the papers.

Still, the Office of Lawyer Regulation hasn't even filed a complaint against Hausmann.

Apparently, when a lawyer is involved, the regulators wait until every single "i" is dotted and "t" crossed before they move. Hausmann's appeal wasn't shot down until late September.

Though his lips were zipped on questions about whether there is an investigation, Bill Weigel, a top dog at the state Office of Lawyer Regulation, agreed that the snail's pace his office is taking on this one could raise an eyebrow or two.

Said Weigel: "There's significant disconnect in appearance when an attorney is incarcerated and still has a license."

No kidding.

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