AUGUSTA — A once-disbarred attorney is back before a disciplinary panel of his peers on separate complaints that he failed to adequately represent two clients, including an allegation that he was improperly added as a beneficiary in an elderly client’s will.
Andrews Campbell, 72, of Bowdoinham, has been the defense attorney in some high profile trials in central Maine, including the defense of Raymond Bellavance Jr., who was convicted of setting fire to the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro in 2009.
The disciplinary petitions that Campbell faces were filed by the Board of Overseers of the Bar and accuse Campbell of misconduct and multiple violations of the Maine Code of Professional Responsibility.
Campbell denies he committed any violations of the code, or, if he did “such violation was inadvertent and did not do harm to any client or the public,” in a filing by his attorney, Justin Andrus.
Campbell said by email, “To my best knowledge, neither (petition) has merit. Beyond that I do not believe further comment would be appropriate at this time.”
Reached by phone Thursday, Andrus said he does not comment on active cases.
One charge says Campbell failed to properly protect the late Mildred D. MacComb of Pittston and her interests.
“Instead Campbell’s actions placed MacComb, her property and her finances at risk,” the petition says. It is based on a complaint filed by Catherine A. Gero, a relative of MacComb.
It cited MacComb’s wills, which Campbell drafted in 2005 and 2006 and which included him as a beneficiary. The 2005 will, filed in Kennebec County Probate Court, lists Campbell as an alternate beneficiary of her sheep and as the recipient of a two-acre parcel she owned in Pittston.
The petition also says Campbell at the same time permitted James A. Richman, a registered sex offender, to move in with MacComb and drafted a document giving Richman a life interest in MacComb’s house.
A 2007 will gives Richman MacComb’s home and land on Mountainview Lane, Pittston, as long as he continued to care for her.
The complaint also says Campbell signed to allow a timber company to drill on property that MacComb had an interest in, yet she received none of the proceeds.
There is a 1998 will as well, heavily marked up in blue ink, each change initialed “MM.” MacComb died in 2010 and a trial in probate court on the three later wills is set for May 9.
A claim by Richman, for $24,000 for care-taking duties, has been rejected by MacComb’s estate. That claim was filed on Richman’s behalf by Campbell.
Attorney Stephen Langsdorf, who was appointed to handle MacComb’s estate, said Wednesday via email that the estate is insolvent. “I am trying to get whatever value there is for creditors,” he said. “We have had a very difficult time serving all the necessary parties.” Notes in the probate file indicate that several heirs listed in the wills are deceased.
Campbell “denies acting in a manner that failed to protect Ms. MacComb or her interests,” according to filings by Andrus.
It also says Campbell took direction from MacComb.
The second petition brought by the overseers’ board is based on a complaint that Campbell failed to properly represent Matthew M. Fleury, who is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence on 112 convictions in July 2007 for gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor over a four-year period.
That petition says Campbell drafted a promissory note in May 2006 requiring Fleury to pay two other clients of Campbell $12,000: “It was an improper conflict of interest for Campbell to be the attorney advocate for (the other two clients) in their adversarial financial transaction with Campbell’s then current criminal client, Fleury.”
It also says Campbell failed to get proper consent for the simultaneous representation, and that Campbell confirmed Fleury’s indigency when Fleury applied for a court-appointed lawyer in criminal proceedings.
Campbell denies those allegations as well, saying the financial transaction was not adversarial to Fleury and that he offered Fleury an opportunity to get independent counsel.
The tall, affable, and occasionally rumpled Campbell has represented a number of high-profile defendants in criminal court.
One of the more unusual cases brought Campbell his first reprimand from the Board of Overseers — in 1987 — for his actions a year earlier in defending Dennis Eugene Friel, who was accused of defacing 30 churches and a town hall during the summer of 1983. Campbell insisted he was following his client’s directions by standing mute and refusing to cross-examine the state’s witnesses at Friel’s jury trial. The judge declared a mistrial, and later the charges against Friel, who has since died, were dismissed.
Campbell was suspended and finally disbarred following his 1987 conviction in U.S. District Court in Maine for marijuana distribution. He was reinstated conditionally in 1999 and fully in 2001.
Campbell was reprimanded again for his professional conduct in 2006 and 2010. A hearing in the new case is set for 9 a.m. April 29 before a panel of the Grievance Commission of the Board of Overseers of the Bar at Cumberland County Superior Court.
Over the years, he has had several high profile cases aside from Bellavance, including defending Olland Reese, convicted of the 2002 murder of 16-year-old Cody Green of Bowdoin.
In 2007, Campbell represented Fern Clark, of Somerville, convicted by a judge in Lincoln County Superior Court of 15 counts of animal cruelty, but cleared of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Campbell’s website, 207legal.com, boasts Campbell’s own accomplishments in “cases in which the defendant prevailed notwithstanding counsel having been jailed in the middle of trial for overly aggressive conduct, and won at trial level even when the jury came in with a guilty verdict.”