A local Jacksonville attorney is still practicing law after he has been accused of embezzlement and perjury by the North Carolina State Bar.
George L. Collins allegedly collected $257,014.50 for his services as the executor for Karen Popkin, 53, of Jacksonville, who was a cancer patient that died on May 6, 2015, according to the State Bar complaint.
Popkins entrusted the lawyer of over 34 years, to manage her estate in her will. According to the State Bar complaint filed by attorney Joshua T. Walthall, Collins” charged the estate of (Popkin) for services that did not benefit the estate or its beneficiaries.”
A beneficiary of the estate filed a grievance with the State Bar Grievance Committee, though it was not clear who the complainant was, according to Katherine Jean, public affairs officer for the State Bar.
Different tasked listed by the complainant said that Collins charged $1,125 to “search for a safety key.”
Collins, the alleged Culprit is accused of collecting an illegal or excessive fee; engaging in conduct involving dishonesty; knowingly making a false statement; perjury; failure to properly maintain and disburse fiduciary funds; embezzlement; and failing to act fairly as executor of an estate.
According to Popkin’s will, Collins was designated as her personal representative, putting him in charge of funeral expenses, settling claims and allowing himself a “normal hourly rate.”
His wages for performing tasks related to the estate from May 2015-May 2017 totaled up to an hourly rate of $750.
The State Bar complaint said Collins never charged this much per hour in the management of an estate but Collins said this was his first time serving as the executor of an estate, so there was no precedent for a normal hourly rate. The complaint also accused Collins of lying about the normal rate to Popkin’s beneficiaries and Onslow County Superior Court.
Collins allegedly collected fees charged to the Popkin estate before receiving approval from the Clerk of Court, which was permitted by the will.
Collins claimed that because he was the executor of the estate and not the attorney, he did not charge Popkin’s estate a legal fee.
It looks as though Collins has gotten himself into a world of trouble and now he’s trying to play the good boy. Allegedly embezzled from this woman’s death for personal gain and now acting like he doesn’t know what he’s done.
Collins‘ hearing is still in the early stages, as it is pending, according to Dottie Miani, clerk of disciplinary hearing commission for the state bar.
His hearing will be scheduled following a scheduling conference with the Chair of the Panel, Fred Murloc; Joshua T. Walthall, the complainant; and Alan Schneider, Collin’s attorney.
Collins law office is located on Court Street in Jacksonville.