EASTON — A former Easton attorney and real estate broker has been disbarred in Maryland, according to the state Attorney Grievance Commission.
The commission recently filed a petition for disciplinary action against Virgil Duane Parker, alleging violations of Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, according to state Court of Appeals documents filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. The documents state Parker accepted more than $63,000 that he was not entitled to after representing Rev. and Mrs. G. David McPeake of Cambridge in 1993.
Parker was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1985 and to the Tennessee Bar in 1993, according to court documents. He currently is on voluntary inactive status in Tennessee. Court documents state Parker was “regarded by colleagues who testified in his favor as being ‘very organized,’ having a ‘good knowledge about his cases,’ and being ‘a Nervous Nellie when it came to doing things the right way.’”
Court documents state that Parker practiced law and operated a real estate brokerage firm in Easton and served as counsel to the town Planning and Zoning Commission, handling real estate and contract matters. Town Planner Tom Hamilton said Parker had stood before the commission in representing clients, but Hamilton could not recall whether Parker was hired to work for the commission.
According to court documents, in 1993, Parker provided legal services to the McPeakes in connection with the sale of their farm in Jackson, Tenn. His written agreement was to charge the couple $100 per hour for his services, which was billed from June 1993 and June through December 1998, with no billings in between. In October 1998, the McPeakes entered into a management contract with First American National Bank in Tennessee to manage the farm until it was sold. At about that time, Parker said in place of his hourly charges, he would receive a 5 percent commission on the sale of the property (the same fee the bank was receiving), court documents said.
Parker continued to bill the McPeakes on an hourly basis for legal services through April 2002, according to court documents. The court documents stated that the arrangement “somehow reverted to hourly billing after July 1999.” The McPeakes sent Parker a check for the 5 percent commission plus travel expenses in July 1999.
After the sale of the first parcel of the McPeake’s property, Parker spoke with the McPeakes about lending him $70,000 to help him finance the purchase of property in Tennessee where he was planning to move, court documents said. The loan was to be secured by a mortgage on property in Talbot County, owned by McPeake and his wife, and the loan was made in October 2000.
Parker told McPeake to speak with a mutual friend, Harold Robbins, president of the Bank of the Eastern Shore, who was never made aware of the purpose or terms of the loan, court documents said. Parker did not advise the McPeakes to seek independent legal counsel regarding the loan, court documents said.
According to court documents, Parker, who was an experienced real estate attorney, neglected to include in the mortgage a description of the property or a reference to the liber and folio where the deed by which he and his wife bought the property was recorded.
Parker did not include his wife as a borrower or have her sign the mortgage, “thus providing no security at all for the loan,” court documents said, and the mortgage was given to the McPeakes and was never recorded.
Parker made none of the monthly payments, court documents said. Parker told the McPeakes that the mortgage had been discharged and sent a copy of the statement to their accountant.
In August 2002, Parker asked the McPeakes to send two checks to his real estate company (Parker Realty) for a total of $63,613, referring to the checks as “commissions” on sales prices, court documents said.
The two checks were deposited by Parker, documents said, and on the same day, Parker sent a check for $70,000 to the McPeakes “to ‘memorialize’ the fact that he had paid the mortgage and had the McPeakes sign a release of the mortgage,” court documents said.
“All of this began to unravel when respondent (Parker) sent McPeake’s accountant a copy of his mortgage statement showing an interest payment in 2001 of $8,849,” court documents said. The accountant included the payment as income on the McPeake’s tax return, and McPeake’s daughter questioned the amount and consulted counsel, “knowing that her parents had not received such a payment,” according to court papers.
The McPeakes filed suit against Parker and made a complaint to Bar Counsel, court documents said, then Parker “acknowledged that he was not entitled to the $63,613 and he repaid that amount to McPeake from the Parker Realty account, along with interest on the $70,000 and interest on the $63,613 at an 8 percent rate,” court documents said.
Judge Michael Loney of Anne Arundel County Circuit Court found Parker in violation of certain categories of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, according to court documents.
“The mortgage was a sham. Not only was it substantively deficient, but it was never intended by respondent (Parker) to be honored,” court documents said. “None of the monthly payments were ever made; instead, from the beginning, he intended to repay the loan and attempted to repay the loan from commissions to which he had no entitlement and has since acknowledged he had no entitlement.”
“Had the McPeakes’ daughter not launched an investigation leading to the discovery of what had occurred, respondent (Parker) would have enriched himself, at his elderly clients’ expense, by at least $63,613,” the court documents said. “It is clear from our analysis that respondent’s (Parker) conduct was laced with dishonesty and breach of trust. The only appropriate sanction is disbarment.”