Lawyer disbarred for taking cash from client

A Bradner man has been banned from practicing law.

An Abbotsford man who has been active in Aldergrove charities has been disbarred for misappropriating funds from the trust of a client.

John David Briner was found to have committed professional misconduct for taking the funds, breaching accounting rules, and failing to comply with a B.C. Law Society investigation.

According to the Law Society, in 2012 Briner’s office received $50,439 from a third party intended for one of Briner’s clients.

He put the money into a trust account, but instead of crediting it to his client, Briner intentionally credited it to the ledger of another client who was in overdraft.

He also sent a bill to the second client for $10,000, then withdrew that amount for his “fees.”

The rest of the trust funds were withdrawn by the second client.

The discipline hearing panel found that there was a clear advantage gained by Briner by using one client’s trust funds to cover an overdraft in another client’s trust account, and that he offered no corroborating evidence to support his position that the misappropriation was a simple mistake,” said a Law Society statement.

Briner hasn’t practiced as a lawyer since at least October, 2013, when he withdrew his membership in the Society.

The Legal Profession Act requires the Law Society to impose sanctions, said David Jordan, communications officer for the Law Society.

This spring, Briner contacted the Langley Advance to help publicize a seed library he proposed starting from his Bradner-area farm.

He has also been active in Aldergrove through the Access Music Society, of which he was executive director.

Briner’s name no longer appears on the society’s website, which says it is looking for new directors from the community.

He was also facing an Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation in the United States, and settled with that agency in September.

Briner agreed to an order banning him from acting as an officer or director of a company issuing stock, from offering any penny stocks, or from appearing before the SEC as an attorney.

He also agreed to pay more than $70,000 US in fines.

Accounting firms that audited Briner’s enterprises were also fined.

In 2010, Briner settled a previous complaint with the SEC, over what the agency characterized as a “pump and dump” stock scheme. Briner did not admit or deny responsibility as part of the settlement.