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Former Rolla municipal attorney disbarred by Missouri Supreme Court


A former Rolla municipal judge was disbarred following a unanimous decision by the Missouri Supreme Court.

The Missouri Supreme chose to disbar James T. Crump after he violated multiple professional rules, according to the decision written by Judge Kelly C. Broniec. The decision to disbar him comes after his “mismanagement of two clients’ trusts as well as his own IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Account) account (an interest-bearing trust account in which attorneys are to hold funds on behalf of their clients or third parties for later distribution).”

Crump had served as a municipal judge in Rolla for the past 11 years, according to court information. The April 1 Rolla City Council agenda states that the city had received his letter of resignation.

“After further research and discussion, it was decided that Presiding Circuit Judge Hickle would appoint an Interum Municipal Judge to fill the vacant position until after the election. Brad Neckermann will continue as City Prosecutor,” the agenda states.

The May 14 Supreme Court hand down from Feb. 26 states that Crump had been licensed since 1997 and has been the owner of Caveat Emptor LLC.

Court information states that Crump became the successor of two trusts of a family friend. The friend loaned Caveat Emptor $80,000 and another $175,000 to Crump. Crump drafted paperwork associated with the loan, which was due in 2014 but Crump allegedly never paid it back, according to court information.

Court information states the friend died in 2015, the trust had roughly $1 million in outstanding loans and the money Crump received went into his IOLTA account. Crump had allegedly loaned himself $42,000 in May 2017 to pay his law firm’s federal payroll taxes, the hand down says. Crump allegedly took money out of his employees’ paychecks but had not remitted them to the government. Crump allegedly used money from the trust again to pay federal payroll taxes in December 2017.

Crump sent the beneficiaries letters claiming to list all the trusts’ outstanding loans. The list included the earlier loans Crump received from the trusts, but not the loans he made to himself in 2017, court information states.

“Prior to sending the beneficiaries a second letter, Crump made a payment of approximately $52,000  from his law firm’s operating account to the trusts for the interest payments on the personal loan. In 2021, the trusts’ beneficiaries hired an attorney, who requested documents pertaining to the trusts’ activities,” the hand down states. “Crump avoided the attorney for a while but eventually admitted he was not current on his loan payments to the trusts. The chief disciplinary counsel subsequently conducted an audit of Crump’s law firm accounts. The audit showed many irregularities in the transfer of money from his IOLTA account to the trusts.”

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Ryan Shiner


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