A Brunswick attorney accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars from client trust funds has now been disbarred.

The Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar announced Wednesday that James Whittemore will not be allowed to practice law in the state for 10 years. Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills had suspended Whittemore in August over two ethics complaints, and since then the number of complaints against him grew to five. The parties reached an agreement about a sanction before a hearing last week, and Mills then wrote the final order of disbarment.

“Generally, the most severe sanction of disbarment appears to be reserved for intentional acts of misconduct, or misconduct which results in significant injury, or a combination of both,” she wrote in the Nov. 30 order.

Whittemore, 69, is also facing criminal charges in Cumberland County. He was indicted in September on two counts of theft by misapplication of property and one count of theft by unauthorized taking. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar submitted a petition for Whittemore’s suspension in July.

The original affidavit attached to that petition outlined two separate complaints against Whittemore. In both, the clients allege the attorney never delivered money owed to them from his client trust account. In one complaint, the amount missing from a family trust fund is more than $150,000. In the second, which involves the handling of a wrongful death claim, it is $100,000. The names of the clients in both of those cases match the names of the victims in the criminal case.

Since then, three more former clients have come forward to say Whittemore bilked them.

The Brunswick Topsham Land Trust alleged that an anonymous donor sent $15,000 to Whittemore to be held in escrow for an easement purchase, but that money disappeared. Another woman said the same thing happened to a $1,500 retainer she paid Whittemore for his help with a home construction dispute. And another man claimed he paid Whittemore $18,790 for his representation in a right-of-way issue, but he never received a full accounting of those services and their costs.

The total amount of missing money is more than $287,000, according to court documents.

Whittemore had submitted an answer to the ethics complaint that denied or declined to comment on the allegations. He attended last week’s disbarment hearing. His lawyer, Justin Andrus, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

The judge’s order states that the complainants have filed or will be filing for reimbursement through the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection, and Whittemore has said he does not have the money to reimburse them himself.

“In each instance, Mr. Whittemore’s conduct demonstrated violations of duties owed directly to his clients,” Mills wrote in her Nov. 30 order. “In addition, Mr. Whittemore violated duties that he owed to the court, to the public, and to his profession.”

The next event scheduled in the criminal case is a dispositional conference Jan. 3. No charges have been added to the case since the September indictment, according to the criminal clerk’s office in Cumberland County.

The website for Whittemore’s practice is no longer active, but it used to say that he received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. He attended Boston University Law School and received his law degree from the Maine School of Law.

He opened his private practice in Brunswick in 2006. His website listed a wide range of services, including personal injury cases, civil litigation, real estate law and family disputes.

Megan Gray can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemegan

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