CHARLESTON - A New York attorney suspended following his conviction for allowing a felon to sell insurance will also not be allowed to practice law in West Virginia.

The state Supreme Court on May 12 accepted the recommendation of its Lawyer Disciplinary Board, and ordered the suspension of James M. Kernan's law license. The Court's order mirrored one taken a year before by New York's high court.

Records show, the Court's Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department in Rochester on April 30, 2010, ordered the suspension of Kernan's New York license retroactive to Jan. 25. The suspension was to last for the next five years or upon completion of his federal probation, whichever is longer.

According to the Utica Observer-Dispatch, Kernan, 62, a resident of Oriskany, plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Syracuse in March 2009 to one count of insurance crimes affecting interstate commerce. The charge stemmed from Kernan, and his wife, Marlene, 61, employing Robert "Skip" Anderson Sr., a three-time convicted felon at their firm, Oriska Insurance Company, from 2002 to 2007.

James was sentenced to five years probation, 400 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. Marlene received two years probation, and fined $187,000.

Records show, two weeks after he was sentenced, Kernan notified the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of his conviction, and pending suspension in New York. Because he timely notified ODC, and did not contest the validity of the New York Court's decision, the Board's hearing panel subcommittee on Sept. 21, 2010 recommended the Court take identical action against Kernan.

In its order, the Court said Kernan could regain his West
Virginia license upon providing ODC a certified copy showing reinstatement of his New York license. Records show, Kernan was admitted to the New York Bar on Feb. 22, 1977, and to the state Bar on Feb. 6, 2001.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, case number 08-cr-61 (Kernan criminal); West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, case number 35669(Kernan discipline)

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