Floyd to consider contempt sanctions against coin fraud attorneys

Marilyn Tennissen Nov. 27, 2007, 6:45am

A Jefferson County judge will decide next week if three attorneys are in contempt for ignoring his order to stop all contact with clients of a Beaumont coin company.

On Dec. 7, Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, will consider a Motion to Enforce Judgment and Sanctions against attorneys Bill Voss, Jason Gibson and Jake Posey.

Attorneys for Universal Coin & Bullion and owner Mike Fuljenz filed the motion on Nov. 1, alleging the lawyers are defying Floyd's restraining order issued in March.

Voss, Gibson and Posey represent customers who allege the coin company ripped them off. UCB has also counter sued.

Voss represented John Rollins, a former UCB employee who supposedly stole a client list from UCB and handed it over to Voss, who then used the list to drum up plaintiffs to sue the coin company.

A hearing was held on March 23, in which Voss and Gibson of Houston and Posey, of Austin, actively participated. On March 30, Floyd signed a judgment, which Gibson helped draft, in favor of the coin company.

The judgment contained a permanent injunction that prohibited Voss and Rollins from releasing any confidential information about UCB clients and from using client lists to solicit more plaintiffs.

"Bill Voss, attorney at law … shall not knowingly (or indirectly through a third party) target, initiate or solicit any individual who is or was a customer of UCB and/or use any customer name, customer address or contact information obtained from UCB …," the judgment stated.

Bruce Partain of Wells, Peyton, Greenberg & Hunt in Beaumont and Ricky Raven of Thompson & Knight in Houston are representing Universal Coin & Bullion. Their motion alleges that Voss, along with Gibson and Posey, engaged in conduct which clearly violates the March 30 judgment.

"This conduct has resulted in customers of UCB entering into agreements with Gibson, Posey and Voss which provides for legal representation of the UCB customer to pursue legal action against UCB," the motion states.

UCB says the three attorneys had a "meeting of the minds" and conspired to "accomplish an unlawful purpose or a lawful purpose by unlawful means."

According to the motion, Voss originally used the stolen list to send letters to the clients, along with a contingency fee contract.

One of the customers on the UCB list was Orald Stewart, who is included as a plaintiff against UCB in Case No. D178-641, Maureen O'Neill et al vs. First Capital Reserve LP et al, which is pending in Floyd's court. The case was severed in September.

In a letter to Stewart, which Partain included with the motion, Voss tells a customer that he is investigating claims of fraud and misrepresentation by UCB on behalf of a client.

"I am writing to you because you may have knowledge or information regarding my client's case and could be a potential witness," Voss wrote on Feb. 23, 2006. "In addition, it is our understanding you may not be satisfied with your own investment(s) or you may have been given fraudulent advice in order to induce you to purchase said investments."

Voss continues, "… you could help her in her attempt to right the wrong she endured due to serious misrepresentation by Universal … We need your help."

Also included with the UCB motion in court documents is a copy of a contingency fee contract that designates Voss to receive 40 percent of any settlement prior to filing a lawsuit, 45 percent after filing and 50 percent if appealed.

After the court issued the judgment stopping Voss from contacting the clients, UCB claims that Voss simply began referring the clients he contacted to Gibson. Attached to the motion is a copy of an agreement between Voss, Gibson and Posey to divide the attorney's fees, in which Gibson gets 60 percent and Voss and Posey split the other 40 percent.

The lawyers also ran ads in the Numismatic News, a coin collecting trade publication. The Advertising Review Committee of the State Bar of Texas later found that the ad violated a number of Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. A copy of the letter from the State Bar was attached to the motion.

UCB also alleges that Gibson also uses the Internet to target customers.

As an example, Partain says that if a customer performs a Google search for Universal Coin & Bullion, a sponsored link appears for "Coin Fraud Attorney at www.JAG-lawfirm.com," the Web site operated by Gibson.

Another link given as an example asks "Have you purchased 'rare' coins? You may be entitled to damages."

UCB says the attorneys' actions constitute contempt of court and will ask Floyd to impose a fine, imprisonment or both on Voss, Gibson and Posey.

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