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Lawyer charged with keeping client funds

PROVIDENCE — A disbarred North Kingstown attorney was charged Thursday with unlawfully appropriating more than $40,000 in client funds.

James Currier, 65, of 105 Jerry Lane, was arrested by members of the Rhode Island State Police financial crimes unit a and charged with a felony county of unlawful appropriation over $1,000.

The investigation originated from a complaint filed by a former client of Currier’s, said RISP Col. Steven G. O’Donnell in a release on Thursday. Police said Currier was representing the client during negotiations with Allstate Insurance regarding water damage in their home. Police alleged that in August 2010 the insurance company issued a check for $6,291.11 to Currier for his client, but the attorney deposited the money into his “client account” and later withdrew the funds for his personal use.

Currier was disbarred from practicing law in March of 2013. The disciplinary board found Currier had violated the rules of professional conduct when he failed to promptly deliver the funds to his client. They also found his conduct unprofessional when he co-mingled that money with his own and misappropriated those funds for his own use.

Currier was arraigned before Judge Patricia L. Howard in Providence Superior Court and released on a promise to appear for a pre-trial conference on June 5.

O’Donnell added the penalty for a person convicted of felony unlawful appropriation is a fine of not more than $50,000 or three times the value of the money or property embezzled, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than 20 years or both.

— A.J. Algier

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