September 26, 2021
The Commission for Lawyer Discipline filed a disciplinary petition against Houston solo practitioner Edward C. Burwell on Friday alleging he assisted two executives of a global supply company in scamming money from customers seeking to buy medical gloves during the pandemic.
Burwell, who has a history of disciplinary actions, declined to comment because he had not seen the petition filed in state district court in Harris County, and was consulting with a defense attorney next week.
“All I can say is I haven’t seen it,” Burwell said.
The commission seeks a judgment of professional misconduct against Burwell, and an order that he pay reasonable attorney fees and costs. The petition results from complaints filed by executives from two businesses.
As alleged in the petition, Burwell represented the managing partner and president of Twin Gemini Global Supply (TGGS) in a transaction to sell 250 million boxes of nitrile medical gloves to Demure-Alessio International Trading (DAIT) for $1.9 billion.
The commission alleged that in August 2020, Burwell “demanded” at his clients’ request that DAIT transfer $100,000 into Burwell’s IOLTA trust account for pay for an audit by an international testing service for verification services.
DAIT paid the money, but Burwell failed to furnish the audit report, provide an accounting for the $100,000, or return it, according to the petition.
The commission alleged there never was an audit report and Burwell, as the fiduciary of his IOLTA trust account, “failed to safeguard, provide an accounting, or return the funds.”
The commission alleged that Burwell’s clients “high jacked” TGGS from the rightful owner of the company with the “assistance and full knowledge” of Burwell, he “was aware there was never any product to be purchased” and that his clients were advising customers to “funnel money” through his trust account.
Burwell acknowledged, according to the petition, that he incorporated TGGS in Texas, set up a separate IOLTA trust account to accept deposits from TGGS customers, and forwarded money from the trust account to his clients.
The lawyer, according to the allegations, “denied culpability in the fraud,” even though his clients’ theft was facilitated by the “sham ‘trust fund’” he set up to provide a “sense of security” to TGGS customers.
Additionally, the petition alleged Burwell represented TGGS in a transaction for Argus Global to buy 500,000 boxes of gloves, and the company deposited $23,000 into Burwell’s IOLTA trust account in October 2020 to cover an audit report.
However, the petition alleged, Burwell failed to safeguard and return the funds to Argus, because an audit report was never prepared.
The commission alleged Burwell violated disciplinary rules in connection with his trust account, and also violated the rule that he “shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”
According to State Bar of Texas records, Burwell’s public disciplinary record includes suspensions, probations and a public reprimand.
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Douglas Stein | PPE Advantage
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