Associated Press

Prominent Boston lawyer faces disbarment

BOSTON --A prominent Boston defense attorney should be barred from practicing law because he allegedly mishandled clients' money and neglected a case in the past decade, according to a recommendation from the state board that oversees lawyers.

John C. McBride took tens of thousands of dollars in fees he did not earn and failed to show up in court after being paid by one defendant, who ended up defending himself, according to the Board of Bar Overseers.

Noting that McBride, a criminal defense attorney, had been disciplined for misconduct three times in the 1980s and '90s, the board said he "has no excuse for the ruthless manner in which he treated his clients and played so fast and loose with their money."

McBride said he always acts in the best interests of his clients, and disagrees with the board's recommendation.

"I think the recommendation is erroneous, and if you look at the bigger picture here, (it) shows that these clients obtained substantial benefits because of our representation," he told The Boston Globe.

The recommendation for disbarment now goes to the Supreme Judicial Court. Daniel Crane, the state bar counsel who recommended disbarment, said he expects a single justice of the high court to hear arguments within two months.

The SJC disbars an average of 25 lawyers per year. Massachusetts has more than 46,000 practicing lawyers.

McBride, who has represented drug dealers as well as police accused of misconduct, allegedly settled a forfeiture case authorities had brought against a convicted drug dealer client without his client's approval.

In another case, McBride is accused of misleading 17 stockbroker clients about the status of a $342,000 arbitration award he helped obtain. He allegedly took $50,00 of the award as payment without his clients approval.

In the third case, a New Hampshire drug dealer hired McBride to handle a parole request. The man's brother paid McBride $2,250, but the lawyer "did virtually nothing for seven months," then missed an important court hearing without sending another lawyer to fill in, the board said. McBride eventually paid the money back.

While the three-member Board of Bar Overseers hearing committee has recommended that McBride be suspended from practicing law for three years, McBride asked that the complaints be dismissed, or that he be publicly reprimanded. 

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