A NSW solicitor has been stripped of his right to practise law after he rorted tens of thousands of dollars from Legal Aid.
Sonny Wilson was found guilty of dishonest conduct after he swindled more than $30,000 from the Legal Aid system in fake invoices between 2011 and 2013.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled on Monday that Wilson’s name be removed from the local roll of legal practitioners, and he was made to pay the legal fees of the Council of the Law Society of NSW.
Wilson, who is now trying to establish a new career as a Christian minister, told the tribunal there were “no excuses whatsoever” for his misconduct, but sought a lengthy suspension of his practising licence instead.
In an affidavit, Wilson said he had mostly been unemployed since October 2013 when the NSW Law Society suspended his practising certificate, and subsequently applied for bankruptcy in March this year.
“Currently, my wife and two older children are working to financially support me and our family of six,” Wilson said.
The tribunal heard that Wilson submitted false invoices for payment in four cases.
In one instance, involving a criminal matter, Wilson claimed more than $16,000 in counsel fees, which was paid by Legal Aid.
“In fact no tax invoice had been received from counsel, no money was due to counsel and the work claimed for had not been performed as the trial for which costs were claimed had been adjourned,” the tribunal found.
The tribunal said Wilson’s efforts to complete a bachelor of ministry was praiseworthy, and he may one day be fit to practise law again.
“However in our view the dishonesty involved in his conduct is so egregious that no order other than an order that his name be removed from the roll will meet the circumstances.”