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Arizona Attorney Disbarred for Theft of Client Funds

Sedona AZ (December 17, 2018)Attorney Robert C. Billar of Yuma was disbarred for stealing his client’s money and failing to comply with the State Bar of Arizona’s investigation. He had been on interim suspension, preventing him from practicing law since March 13, 2018.

The State Bar’s investigation was prompted by a charge from a client who requested an accounting for approximately $54,000 he entrusted to Billar during his incarceration while awaiting trial. After using approximately $14,000 in defense fees and costs, Billar claimed to have deposited the balance of $40,000 for the client’s benefit in a bank account he could not identify. He provided no further accounting and claimed he lost all of his relevant financial and trust account records. The State Bar subpoenaed Billar’s trust account records that showed he wrote himself checks for the balance of the client’s money.

During the Bar’s investigation, Billar failed to participate in the preparation of a joint prehearing statement which prompted bar counsel to contact him the day prior to his hearing scheduled for November 9, 2018. He told bar counsel that he might have car trouble the next day, and for the first time informed bar counsel that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at the hearing.

Billar appeared at the hearing telephonically and was given the opportunity to testify, present evidence, and cross examine witnesses. He denied all allegations of the Bar’s complaint but offered no evidence in his defense, either to the ethics charges or in mitigation, and invoked his Fifth Amendment right. The presiding disciplinary judge struck Billar’s denials and the hearing panel concluded that the State Bar’s evidence was clear and convincing that he committed the charged violations.

In addition to ordering Billar’s immediate disbarment, the hearing panel ordered him to pay $40,000 in restitution to the client and it ordered bar counsel to refer the matter to the appropriate criminal prosecution agency.

Robert C. Billar’s disbarment was effective November 9, 2018.

Consumers may report attorney misconduct by calling the State Bar of Arizona Attorney/Consumer Assistance Program (A/CAP) hotline at 602.340.7280.

The State Bar of Arizona is a nonprofit organization that operates under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Bar includes approximately 24,500 active attorneys and provides education and development programs for the legal profession and the public. Since 1933 the Bar and its members have been committed to serving the public by making sure the voices of all people in Arizona are heard in our justice system.

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