The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ordered (PDF) the disbarment yesterday of Jesse Ingram, a Washington attorney accused of disbursing $250,000 in his escrow account without permission from the owner of those funds. Ingram consented to the disbarment, according to the order.
According to the Office of Bar Counsel's specification of charges (PDF), Ingram had a client negotiating a business transaction with a company based in Florida. As part of those negotiations, the Florida company wired $250,000 for Ingram to hold in his escrow account.
The money was wired to Ingram's escrow account in late April 2009. On May 1, according to bar counsel, Ingram began disbursing the funds at his client's request and without consent from the Florida company. In litigation that followed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Ingram maintained that he believed the money belonged to his client, but a judge ruled against him last April.
Ingram, a member of the D.C. Bar since 1985, said in a phone interview today that he planned to continue fighting the judgment in the Maryland case but did not plan on challenging his disbarment. "It's just not worth to me to fight this for another three years," he said.
Ingram said that his client "deceived" him and that he disbursed the money from his account at his client's instruction. "I'm hurt because everything I stood for in my entire life now seems to just be scarred…I have been unjustly prosecuted and I don't feel good about that," he said.
According to court documents, the Florida company asked for its money back in August 2009 after negotiations broke down with Ingram's client. By that time, however, the money was gone.
In September 2009, the Florida company sued Ingram in Maryland federal court. In January 2010, U.S. District Judge William Quarles Jr. granted partial summary judgment to the Florida company, finding Ingram in breach of the escrow agreement.
Quarles' April opinion (PDF) granted judgment for the Florida company and ordered Ingram to repay the funds he still owed, plus interest. Ingram appealed. In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed Quarles' ruling.
Although Ingram’s practice was based in Washington, he was also member of the Maryland bar and did work there as well. He was disbarred in Maryland in May.