A lawyer who defrauded a client of $1.7 million in an attempt to cover his own debts will spend at least three years in prison.
Brian Francis Maloney betrayed his client’s trust over five years by having the man act as a lender to other people who were unaware of the ‘loans’, while the lawyer falsified documents to effect the deceptions.
Maloney used the money he defrauded, between January 2007 and February 2012, to try to cover the debts he had incurred through failed business ventures and while performing pro bono work for friends, the Supreme Court heard.
The court heard Maloney admitted to his offending in written confessions and had planned to take his own life in the hope an insurance pay-out would cover his debts and repay the victim.
The father of six had planned to take his life in a staged car crash, but was discovered by chance by one of his sons on a rural road, and mental-health treatment began soon after.
Chief Justice Marilyn Warren described Maloney’s offending as “disgraceful dishonesty” that represented failings in his legal and ethical obligations.
Justice Warren acknowledged Maloney had since been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, had been a dedicated family man and community member and had lost his legal practice.
“You have lost everything you have worked during 25 years of practice,” she told the court on Tuesday.
“Against you, it must be said, you breached the position of special trust and responsibility. Lawyers … enjoy a special position in the community because they are officers of the Supreme Court and are expected to uphold the rule of law.”
Justice Warren said Maloney’s victim had been unable to purchase a home because of the money he had lost, and had also lost faith in the legal system.
Maloney, 59, a one-time legal clerk who once worked for what became the Office of Public Prosecutions, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of obtaining property by deception, two charges of having a deficiency in a trust account and one of theft.
Justice Warren imposed a sentence of five years in jail. Maloney must serve three years before he is eligible for parole.
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