Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel

Patricia Evelyn Lebedovich

Nanoose Bay, BC

Called to the bar: May 11, 1982

Written materials: May 7, 2018

Panel: Craig Ferris, QC, chair, Nan Bennett, Gavin Hume, QC

Decision issued: June 25, 2018 (2018 LSBC 17)

Counsel: Alison Kirby for the Law Society, Patrick F. Lewis for Patricia Evelyn Lebedovich

BACKGROUND

The parties applied to the panel for a hearing based on written materials and without an oral hearing.  The panel determined that it did not require further submissions or evidence by way of oral hearing in order to do justice between the parties. The hearing proceeded by way of written materials.

AGREED FACTS

A  woman was named the executor of her mother’ s will, and Patricia Evelyn Lebedovich was named as an alternative executor. Following her mother's death, the daughter did not probate her mother’ s will or fully administer her estate, and when the daughter died, it was discovered that her mother’ s house was still registered in the mother’ s name.

The executor of the daughter’ s will retained Lebedovich to probate the mother’ s will so the house could be sold. The house was sold and the net sale proceeds were received and deposited in Lebedovich’ s trust account.

Between March 23, 2012 and September 27, 2013, Lebedovich prepared 30 invoices relating to the mother’ s estate and withdrew $68,805.86 from her trust account in purported payment of the invoices. The funds were deposited in her personal account. Only three of the 30 invoices were legitimate accounts for services rendered and were delivered to the client. The balance of the invoices, totaling $50,516.80, were false invoices prepared by Lebedovich and given to her bookkeeper so that her trust account would reconcile.

Between December 6, 2013, and June 26, 2014, Lebedovich prepared five invoices with respect to the estate of the daughter and withdrew $13,567.50 from her trust account, depositing the funds in her general account. None of the invoices was delivered to the client. Lebedovich was not entitled to at least $4,312.91 of the funds she withdrew in purported payment of the five invoices. During the Law Society’ s investigation, Lebedovich prepared amended versions of the five invoices to reflect the work she stated she actually did. She subsequently admitted that she misrepresented that work in order to falsely inflate the amount of the invoices, and that she intentionally misappropriated $4,312.91 in trust funds from the client’ s estate.

ADMISSIONS AND DETERMINATION

Lebedovich admitted that she committed professional misconduct by

  • misappropriating $50,516.80 received on behalf of the mother’ s estate by withdrawing the funds from trust when she was not entitled to do so;
  • creating 27 false bills for the estate in order to reconcile her trust account and conceal a trust shortage totaling $50,516.80; and
  • misappropriating $4,312.91 and improperly withdrawing the balance of the $13,567.50 from trust and depositing the money into her general account when she was not entitled to the funds, preparing invoices that were false and in which she overcharged for the services rendered by $4,312.91, and withdrawing funds from trust in payment of her fees and disbursements prior to delivering a bill.

The panel approved Lebedovich’ s conditional admission of professional misconduct and proposed disciplinary action, both of which had been accepted by the Discipline Committee.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel ordered that Lebedovich be disbarred.

2018 LSBC 17 Decision of the Hearing Panel