12.20.2013 Consent Order of Discipline – Suspension [Vance County]
At the time this order was entered, D. Bernard Alston was already on active suspension pursuant to previous Orders of Discipline (see 07 DHC 21; 09 DHC 19).
A prospective property owner contacted Alston in January 2012 regarding plans to purchase certain real property in Henderson, NC. Additionally, this individual notified Alston of an intention to acquire title insurance for the property. On January 20, 2012, Alston received a $200 fee from the individual as compensation for a title examination.
Alston, then serving an active suspension, sought to have Yolanda Feimster, an attorney, perform the closing. Alston offered to prepare the documents under Feimster’s name. Feimster declined this offer and instructed Alston not to include her name on any documents. Nevertheless, Alston prepared the deeds and included Feimster’s name as the preparing attorney without Feimster’s consent or knowledge.
Subsequently, Alston contacted another attorney, Garey Ballance, to act as the closing attorney. Alston claimed that Feimster had already prepared the deeds. Ballance agreed to serve as the closing attorney, but only on the condition that the purchaser did not require title insurance, as Ballance did not have liability coverage for title defects as required by title insurers. Alston did not notify Ballance that the purchaser had requested title insurance. Eventually, Ballance learned of the purchaser’s desire for title insurance and withdrew from the representation.
Alston did not notify the purchaser that Ballance withdrew from representation. Alston, though suspended from the practice of law in North Carolina, performed the closing on April 6, 2012. Alston falsely represented to the purchaser that the deeds were prepared by a licensed North Carolina attorney, that Ballance was still the closing attorney, and that title insurance had been obtained for the property.
The Commission concluded that Alston’s dishonest and criminal acts violated Rule 8.4 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct. Additionally, Alston engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, which violates Rule 5.5 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct.
Alston was suspended from the practice of law in North Carolina for a term of five years.
View the full disciplinary order below.
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