A Nashville lawyer facing criminal consequences for stealing money from clients was disbarred last week by the Tennessee Supreme Court and can no longer practice law.
John L. Lowery, 50, was disbarred June 24 for violating eight rules on communication, safekeeping of funds and misconduct, among others.
“Mr. Lowery settled nine cases without his clients’ knowledge or consent, signed their names to settlement checks without their permission, misappropriated the settlement funds and made misrepresentations to the clients to make them think their cases were progressing normally,” a news release from the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility says. The board oversees lawyer conduct and discipline in the state.
Lowery’s lack of work in another case led to it being dismissed and he did not tell his client, according to the board.
Lowery can petition to have his license to practice law reinstated if he pays more than $298,000 restitution to his clients and more than $1,000 in fees to the board, according to Disciplinary Counsel Bill Moody.
In the separate criminal case, according to the news release, Lowery pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft and eight counts of forgery. His sentencing is scheduled for July 29 before Nashville Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier.
A search warrant affidavit says Lowery’s clients, most of whom he represented after they were in car crashes, never received their settlement checks from insurance companies. They also had trouble contacting Lowery after he took on their cases, court documents say.
In one case, Lowery told a client “a witness to the accident had changed his story (flipped) and Farmer’s Insurance was no longer willing to settle the claim,” the affidavit reads.
Reach Stacey Barchenger at 615-726-8968 or on Twitter @sbarchenger.