Attorney’s license suspended over fee agreement

2012-04-08T17:53:00Z Attorney’s license suspended over fee agreementSteven Martens The Quad-City Times
April 08, 2012 5:53 pm  • 

By Steven Martens

smartens@qctimes.com

CLINTON — The Iowa Supreme Court has suspended the law license of a retired Clinton County attorney for 30 days after ruling that a fee agreement he had with a client was unethical.

The charges arose from Bill Vilmont’s representation of Scott Halverson of Waukee, Iowa, on a state charge of enticement of a minor.

Vilmont could not be reached for comment Friday.

Halverson was arrested in Clinton in January 2010 after traveling there with the intention of having sexual contact with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl with whom he had been chatting online. The girl actually was an undercover Clinton County’s Sheriff’s deputy.

Halverson retained Vilmont to represent him and agreed to pay Vilmont $225 an hour, plus a $2,500 retainer, according to court documents. The $2,500 retainer was placed in a trust.

The agreement between Halverson and Vilmont also included a minimum fee of $2,500.

A few weeks after his arrest, the Clinton County District Court dismissed the charge against Halverson after a federal charge was filed, and Halverson retained a different attorney to represent him in federal court, according to court documents.

Shortly after the state charge was dismissed, Vilmont withdrew the $2,500 from the trust without notifying Halverson, according to court documents.

Halverson’s father, Keith Halverson, asked Vilmont several times to return the retainer, but Vilmont ignored the requests until June 2010, a month after he closed his Clinton law office, according to court documents.

Vilmont provided an accounting to the Iowa Supreme Court Disciplinary Board and to Keith Halverson showing he worked 3.7 hours on Scott Halverson’s case, including one hour to provide the accounting, according to court records.

The court ruled that the minimum fee contract was “clearly unethical” and that Vilmont had failed to provide timely accounting.

Halverson later pleaded guilty in federal court and was sentenced in December 2010 to 10 years in federal prison.

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