A Minnesota attorney who went to prison for tax evasion in 2011 and later had his law license restored is once again in trouble with the state board that holds lawyers accountable.
The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court to revoke attorney Samuel McCloud’s probationary law license as well as to consider other “appropriate” discipline. Penalties could range from a reprimand to disbarment.
According to the petition, McCloud failed to properly respond or make appearances on behalf of a client for two scheduled court dates in Austin, Minn.
In an interview, McCloud, 76, explained why he did not turn up in court and said that he did not believe discipline was justified.
“I misread the whole situation and I didn’t mean disrespect to the judge,” McCloud said. He has 20 days to respond in writing to the allegations.
The state Supreme Court will appoint a referee from a panel of senior judges who will conduct an evidentiary hearing, issue findings and conclusions and make any recommendation for discipline. The final decision is up to the state high court.
Judge Christa Daily cited McCloud last year for contempt and ordered him to pay $2,000 in sanctions, but in a subsequent order she withdrew the sanctions, saying that McCloud’s actions do not allow him to “be punished summarily.” Instead, she stated that she was referring the case to the state Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board.
McCloud was the attorney for a man who was accused of defaulting on a $65,000 loan. McCloud said that he was eventually able to settle the case. According to court records, a plea agreement includes a two-year probationary period with arrangements made to satisfy the loan. If conditions are satisfied, the case will be dismissed.
In the meantime, McCloud found himself at odds with Daily after he failed to make a March 29 hearing. He apologized in an e-mail, saying “I did not realize that I would have to make contact with the court.” A trial was scheduled for April 8 at which the prosecutor and defendant showed up but McCloud did not.
At an April 24 hearing, McCloud told Daily, “I was under the impression that, and I don’t want to blame it on [the prosecutor] but that she would simply tell you that it’s in the works, we’ve got an agreement and it’s just a matter of getting the paperwork pulled together.”
In an interview, McCloud said all he was interested in doing was getting another date for the case.
“I love this business,” he said. “I have done this all my life. I have done it well. It never dawned on me that this was a high case on the radar.”
McCloud received an 18-month federal prison sentence for felony tax evasion in 2012 for failing to report nearly $600,000 in income from 2004 to 2006.
“If he controlled his gambling and lived more modestly, perhaps he wouldn’t be in this position,” U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz said at the time.
“And because he is an officer of the court, it makes the crime worse.”
McCloud was convicted of fifth-degree assault on three separate occasions since 2002.
He was indefinitely suspended from practicing law in 2013, but in 2015 the Supreme Court reinstated him after a panel of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board found that he was “morally fit to resume the practice of the law.”
He was put on a five-year probation to practice the law in an order signed by then Justice Alan Page. McCloud was told to continue to cooperate with the board, abide by the Minnesota rules of professional conduct and make a good-faith effort to repay unpaid taxes and penalties.
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224