North Charleston, SC– A local lawyer is facing fraud charges. His former clients say they gave him $450,000 to settle a lawsuit and he spent their money instead.
North Charleston lawyer David A. Collins is charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent. He was arrested and bonded out of jail on Thursday. Yet, Collins’ license to practice law his been suspended since the fall of 2016 after his former clients say they realized their money was gone.
On Friday, News 2’s Ashley Osborne talked to the men who say they trusted Collins with hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Joe Walters and his business partner Tom Taylor provide housing to low income families in the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood of North Charleston.
“[Collins’] actions could have affected 200 something low income families in the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood,” Walters said.
Walters and Taylor say they gave David Collins $450,000 in order to pay a mortgagee to settle a lawsuit. They say the money was placed in Collins’ account, but he did not use the money to pay the mortgagee.
“He absconded with the money. He spent the money, not really sure what he did with the money,” Walters says.
Walters told News 2 that he and his business partner realized something was wrong after months of no results and a bunch excuses from Collins.
Walters describes the conversation he had with Collins. “I just said–it’s easy. You can either give us the money back or you can you can give us the settlement papers saying that the job is done.”
When Collins was not able to provide settlement papers or return the money, Walters says they went to the police. “We provided audio and video surveillance because we have it at our office and David Collins came in and pretty much said that he had taken the money.”
Collins represented the two men in a handful of other cases. Therefore, Walters and Taylor lost a large chunk of money and simultaneously they had no lawyer to work on their other cases. They were forced to find new counsel.
“The attorneys that we hired did a fantastic job and we’re able to continue doing what we do and that’s fantastic; however, we’ve got an individual that’s broken the law,” Walters says. “He happens to be an attorney. He needs the opportunity to face justice. I mean he’s no different than anyone else is he?”
Walters does not anticipate ever getting the $450,000 back.
“Fortunately for Tom and I we’ve got a situation where we work hard and hard work is the answer.”