|For immediate release||May 17, 2005|
Law Society disciplines BC lawyers
VANCOUVER — Pursuant to its statutory duty to govern BC’s legal profession in the public interest, the Law Society of BC has disciplined the following lawyers (the lawyer’s year of call to the BC Bar appears in parentheses). Full hearing reports are posted on the Law Society’s website at www.lawsociety.bc.ca.
Kenneth Nicholas Taschuk (1977, ceased membership Jan. 1, 2004) admitted breaching a practice condition imposed upon him by a Law Society hearing panel in that he failed to transfer the registered and records office of a company as required. Mr. Taschuk consented to a penalty of a reprimand and costs of $2,000.
Danine Lorraine Geronazzo (1998, ceased membership Jan. 1, 2005), was found guilty of professional misconduct for attempting to mislead her employers and the Law Society about work she had performed on various client files. A hearing panel ordered that she be suspended until she has entered into a practice supervision agreement for a period of two years and she has certified that for the two-year period of the practice supervision agreement that she will practice only as an employee, associate or partner with two or more members of the Law Society who are not related to her. The hearing panel also ordered that she pay $29,283.75 in costs.
Robert Gordon Milne (1975), of Victoria, BC, admitted altering a document when he did not have authority to do so and causing the altered document to be filed in the Land Title Office. A hearing panel found that his actions constituted professional misconduct and ordered him to pay a fine of $3,500 plus costs.
Rudi Gellert (1995; undertaking not to practice law Dec. 16, 2003), was found guilty of professional misconduct for failing to remit collected PST and GST, misappropriation from trust, failure to serve clients properly, failing to respond to Law Society communications, breach of an undertaking and failing to respond to communications from another lawyer. A hearing panel ordered that Mr. Gellert be suspended for 18 months commencing on Dec. 16, 2003, that prior to his return to practice he obtain a psychiatric evaluation acceptable to the Practice Standards Committee and that he practice only as an employee of one or more lawyers.
Randeep Singh Sarai (2002), of Vancouver, BC, admitted to numerous breaches of Law Society accounting rules; failing to eliminate a trust fund shortage and failing to report the shortage to the Law Society; breaching a practice supervision agreement; numerous breaches of undertakings in real estate matters; failure to acquire and maintain adequate knowledge of legal practices and procedures; and breaching numerous Law Society trust accounting rules. A hearing panel found that he was guilty of professional misconduct and ordered that he be suspended for one year commencing July 1, 2005 and that he pay a portion of the Law Society’s costs of investigating and prosecuting the case.
Robert Earl Williamson (1977), of Vernon, BC, was found guilty of professional misconduct for failing to serve a client in a conscientious, diligent and efficient manner, failing to responds to correspondence from the Law Society, failing to provide the Law Society with an accountant’s report and failing to deliver client files to another lawyer. A hearing panel ordered that Mr. Williamson be suspended for 45 days commencing June 1, 2005, that upon return to practice his practice be supervised and that he pay costs.
Admissions to the Discipline Committee
Under Law Society Rule 4-21, the Discipline Committee may accept from a lawyer a conditional admission of a discipline violation. In such a case, the Committee will record the admission on the lawyer's professional conduct record. The citation, or parts of the citation to which the admission relates, are resolved by the lawyer's admission and those matters will not proceed to a hearing.
Arthur Wayne Skagen (1989, ceased membership Jan. 1, 2004) admitted that he failed to keep accounting books and records in accordance with Law Society rules, that he misappropriated trust funds and that he breached undertakings in two real estate transactions. Mr. Skagen admitted his actions constituted professional misconduct and undertook never to apply to the Law Society for readmission, not to apply to any other law society without first advising the Law Society of BC in writing, not to permit his name to appear on the letterhead of any lawyer or law firm without the written consent of the Law Society and to obtain the Law Society’s written consent before working for any other lawyer or law firm in BC.
Harvey Leonard Gansner (1972) of Smithers, BC, admitted his failure to remit to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency $4,521 collected in payment of GST constituted professional misconduct. Mr. Gansner had made arrangements with the CCRA to remit the money prior to his admission of professional misconduct.
The Law Society of BC was founded in 1869 and is the governing body of the legal profession in BC. It is an independent organization funded by dues paid by all BC lawyers. Under the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society is responsible for the licensing, professional conduct and discipline of the more than 10,000 lawyers in BC.
For more information on the regulation and discipline of lawyers see the “Regulatory Hearings” section of the Law Society’s website.
Law Society of BC media contact:
Brad Daisley, Public Affairs Manager
Office: 604-443-5724 or 1-800-903-5300 toll-free in BC