Virginia Attorney Shelly Renee Collette: “Bad Relationship” was Excuse for Felony Charges Involving Bank Checks

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Attorney Collette some how only received a ONE YEAR SUSPENSION. She was convicted of bank fraud charges. Do YOU want to hire her as your attorney to deal with legal matters?

Virginia Attorney Shelly Renee Collette: "Bad Relationship" was Excuse for Felony Charges Involving Bank Checks

The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board suspended an attorney for a year and a day

The Respondent was an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia at all times relevant to the conduct set forth herein. Between December 20, 2015 and January 8, 2016, the Respondent took three (3) checks totaling in excess of one thousand six hundred dollars ($1,600.00) from the business of her then boyfriend, David Wilds (hereinafter referred to as “Wilds”). The Respondent testified that, at the time that she took the money, Wilds was not supporting their child. The Respondent took the checks, which were made out to Wilds’s business, to a nearby bank and requested that the teller deposit the checks into the Respondent’s joint checking account with Wilds. However, the teller refused to deposit the checks as they were not made out to the Respondent. Thereafter, the Respondent went to a different bank branch and used an ATM to deposit the checks into her joint checking account with Wilds.

On February 24, 2016, the Respondent was arrested on a charge of larceny of checks in violation of § 18.2-98 of the 1950 Code of Virginia. On December 5, 2017, the Respondent  entered into a Plea Agreement and Agreed Disposition with the Commonwealth, wherein she agreed to plead guilty to the felony charge of larceny; and, the Circuit Court for the City of Winchester found that the facts were sufficient to sustain a finding of guilt in that matter. The Court then deferred the case for a period of two years during which time the Respondent must complete fifty hours of community service and be placed on supervised probation for a period of one year followed by one year of unsupervised probation. In accordance with the Plea Agreement, upon the successful completion of the two-year deferral period, the Respondent’s conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor.

The board rejected  her motion to dismiss because she was not convicted of a felony.

Sanction

The Respondent has refused to acknowledge the wrongful nature of her conduct in this matter. Rather, she testified that she was merely guilty of “being in a bad relationship” and “being a bad girlfriend.” Furthermore, in preparation for her hearing before the Board, the Respondent drafted and requested that Wilds sign a statement claiming that he had requested that the prosecutors dismiss the larceny of checks charges against the Respondent. Wilds refused to sign the document; and, according to the testimony of Kristen Zalenski, Attorney at Law, Special Prosecutor for City of Winchester (hereinafter referred to as “Zalenski”), Wilds never asked her to drop the charges against the Respondent. The Board finds the Respondent’s refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of her conduct and her attempt to submit false evidence in this proceeding to be aggravating factors.

On the other hand

In its consideration of mitigating factors, the Board found that the checking account into which the checks were deposited was in both the Respondent and Wilds’s name, that Wilds received all of the funds from the checks, and that the Respondent kept none for herself. This evidence was confirmed by Zalenski, who testified that Wilds did receive all of the money from the Respondent.

In her testimony on Respondent’s behalf Detective Marti Ivins (hereinafter referred to as “Ivins”), who was assigned to investigate this matter, admitted that she had not checked with the State Corporation Commission to determine whether the Respondent was the Registered Agent for Wilds’s business. During the hearing before the Board, with permission of the Respondent and Bar Counsel, the Board retrieved the State Corporation Commission’s records. They reflected that, at the time of the events at issue, the Respondent was, in fact, the Registered Agent for Wilds’s business.

In addition to investigating the larceny charge, Ivans testified she had also been assigned to investigate an allegation of rape made by the Respondent against Wilds. Ivins admitted that the Respondent had reported the rape allegation to the Winchester City Police Department, but no arrest was made, as the matter was not investigated. Instead, Ivins charged the Respondent with filing a false police report against Wilds. That charge was later dismissed, and the Respondent filed a complaint against Ivins; however, nothing came of it.

The attorney is presently serving a disability suspension. This disciplinary sanction will start when the disability suspension ends.

Source: Professional Legal Blog