CHARLESTON – Attorney Richard Poling, a bright young star in West Virginia 25 years ago, flamed out in Charlotte and lost his law licenses there and back home.
Poling admitted to North Carolina regulators that he transferred funds from a client trust account to his operating account without permission.
He also admitted he failed to withhold taxes and file returns for an employee.
The North Carolina State Bar disbarred Poling in 2005. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals annulled his license this Oct. 11.
By reciprocal agreement between West Virginia and North Carolina, a lawyer with licenses in both states faces discipline in both for misconduct in either.
Poling misappropriated funds from the client account, though he didn't exactly steal. He borrowed, to keep his own checks from bouncing.
With help from a trusting bank clerk, he regularly transferred about $15,000 to $20,000 from the client account to his account.
He always paid it back, except the last time. When North Carolina regulators caught him, he owed the client account $14,960.21.
When Poling pulled one of the transfers, the client account held a balance of about $750,000, and his account held a balance of about $90.
His dire circumstance and desperate solution might surprise former classmates at West Virginia University.
According to a current Web site, he earned a bachelor's degree there in 1978, magna cum laude, and enrolled in the College of Law.
He competed in intercollegiate moot trials, served on the moot court board and worked as a teaching assistant.
He graduated from the College of Law in 1981, Phi Beta Kappa.
The Supreme Court of Appeals admitted him to practice in 1981. The North Carolina State Bar admitted him in 1986. The U.S. Claims Court admitted him in 1990.
North Carolina Supreme Court records show him on attorney rosters in personal injury decisions in 2001 and 2005.
On his Web site, he states that he specializes in head, brain and spine injuries. He states that he has won jury verdicts in excess of a million dollars.
He identifies himself as a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and a former board member of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers and the Southern Trial Lawyers Association.
The association's Web site identifies him as the 1987 national chairman of its new lawyers division.
Poling's Web site states that he belongs to the West Virginia Bar and the Monongalia County Bar.
The phone number on his Web site is not in service.