Thursday, July 26, 2012
Carmel on the Case: O'Toole Disbarred
There is one less licensed lawyer in South Florida tonight. He's been disbarred. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- When we first questioned William O'Toole at a gas station, he was having trouble with a pump.
Carmel Cafiero, Investigative Reporter: "We've talked with people who say they may be losing their homes because of doing business with your company, and you have nothing to say?"
A year later, O'Toole's career as a lawyer has run out of gas.
O'Toole's law license was suspended after he was accused of "causing great public harm."
And now, the state supreme court has completely taken away his license to practice law.
O'Toole was involved with companies that promised to help people fighting foreclosure.
Customers claim they paid thousands, but got little or no help, and some lost their homes.
Wendy Perkins: "And I don't know what to do."
The misery spread from South Florida, nationwide.
This mother of eight from New Hampshire told us she lost her home right before Christmas.
Jen Currier: "It was not supposed to be like this."
One of the companies operating under O'Toole's law license was Summit Legal Group. It had as many as 3,000 clients.
The Florida Bar charged, O'Toole didn't know what was happening with those client cases or where their files were even located.
O'Toole was also accused of allowing the staff of Summit Legal Group to mislead clients.
Jen Currier: "I thought there was a team of lawyers, not just one."
The Florida Attorney General sued and shut down Summit Legal Group and its predecessor, Baker Kennedy and Associates.
Both had operated from the same offices in Boca Raton.
Carmel Cafiero, Investigative Reporter: "Are you going after restitution?"
Carol DeGraffenreidt, Assistant Attorney General: "No doubt, Carmel."
The state is now going to court, seeking almost $2 million from the companies.
But William O'Toole says he has been left penniless by his involvement with Summit.
In a fax to 7 News, he says he is a victim and that others kept him in the dark about what was going on.
Carmel Cafiero, Investigative Reporter: "The civil action filed by the Attorney General's Office is still pending. We know there have been settlement talks, but at this point, it is not known how much money, if any, will go to the victims."
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE: