Allman ordered to jail for criminal contempt

Allman

Hendersonville attorney Andy Allman has been ordered by the Tennessee Supreme Court to spend 20 days in jail and pay a $100 fine after accepting a plea agreement with the state’s Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR) regarding criminal contempt charges.

Allman was temporarily suspended from practicing law on Sept. 9, 2016 after he failed to respond to the Board regarding complaints of misconduct and the misappropriation of funds. Since that time, nearly 200 complaints have been filed against the attorney, leading the BPR to issue three separate notices of disbarment and order that Allman pay more than $1 million in restitution.

Court documents show that the BPR filed a petition for contempt, alleging Allman engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and failed to comply with the order of suspension, on July 17, 2017. A Special Master was appointed in August of 2017 to conduct an evidentiary hearing and report his findings to the court.

In a report filed in March, the Special Master identified 139 acts of criminal contempt and asked that the court impose a $6,950 fine and sentence Allman to 480 days in the Sumner County Jail.

Also in March, Allman filed a motion to set aside the Special Master’s findings, arguing that an evidentiary hearing held in January was conducted in violation of his right to be present at trial, right to counsel, right to confront witnesses and right to a jury trial. Following a new evidentiary hearing, the Special Master filed an amended petition for criminal contempt in May.

In August, the parties reached a plea agreement in which Allman agreed to plead nolo contendere to two separate counts of criminal contempt, according to a  Supreme Court order filed Oct. 23.

During a hearing on the plea agreement and sentencing on Aug. 30, the Special Master said he was prepared to offer evidence that two clients paid retainer fees to Allman after he was suspended from practicing law. Allman did not tell the clients he was suspended and never returned the money, according to the Special Master.

Allman’s attorney was allowed to respond.

“I think the pieces that are particularly relevant for the sentencing phase, to the extent that the court gets there and to the acceptance of the plea, is that at all times Mr. Allman had a good faith belief that he would be returning to the practice of law; and he had a good faith belief that to the extent there was a suspension, it was for technical reasons that were resolved quickly related to trust accounting and other issues,” he said.

Allman was ordered to serve 20 days in the Sumner County Jail and pay a $100 fine. He has 15 days from the order filing date of Oct. 23 to report to jail, according to the order.

The attorney also faces criminal charges in Sumner and Davidson counties. In Sumner County he is charged with 39 criminal counts ranging from theft of up to $250,000 to practicing law without a license. A trial is set for Feb. 19. In Davidson County, the attorney is charged with theft of $60,000-$250,000. A jury trial is scheduled for April in that case.

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