CHARLESTON – Nearly a year after his conviction on tax evasion charges, the state Supreme Court has disbarred a Wood County attorney.
The Court on Jan. 13 ordered the annulment of Richard A. Hayhurst's license. The Court's action was in response to a petition filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel seeking Hayhurst's disbarment after he was sentenced in U.S. District Court for failing to pay over $400,000 in business and personal taxes.
On April 14, Hayhurst, a sole practitioner in Parkersburg, was sentenced to 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to one charge of willful failure to collect and pay over taxes. An investigation by the Internal Revenue Service found Hayhurst not only failed to pay taxes, including Social Security and Medicare, totaling $270,011.53 for his law firm between 2000 and 2006, but also income taxes totaling $134,965 between 2003 and 2006.
Two days later, ODC filed its petition for annulment. In it, ODC cited as grounds Hayhurst's violation of two sections of the Rules of Professional Conduct dealing with misconduct from his recent conviction, and his prior conviction in 1996 for failing to file his 1991 income tax return.
In May, Hayhurst's attorneys, Robert P. Martin and Robert L. McKinney II, asked for a mitigation hearing before the Lawyer Disciplinary Board. In their petition, Martin and McKinney cited Hayhurst's service to the community, including his pro bono legal work, and his bouts with depression.
However, David A. Jividen, the Board's chairman, denied the motion on June 22. Earlier that month, the Court in response to a motion by ODC ordered the immediate suspension of Hayhurst's license pending a final decision on ODC's motion for annulment.
Currently, Hayhurst, 62, is incarcerated at the Hazelton penitentiary in Bruceton Mills. He is scheduled for release in December.
After prison, he will be on supervised release. As a special condition of his release, Judge Thomas Johnston ordered Hayhurst make $500 monthly payments to the IRS until his $405,000 debt is paid.
Hayhurst, who was first admitted to the state Bar on June 14, 1972, can reapply for admission in 2016.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals case number 35547