Lawyer who allegedly embezzled is disbarred
The Kauai man is accused of stealing from a cancer patient
The Hawaii Supreme Court has disbarred former Kauai lawyer Andrew Lichtenberg and ordered him to repay nearly $400,000 restitution to a cancer-stricken Louisiana resident displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
The Supreme Court, in its announcement this week, said the lawyer's "multiple ethical violations" included misappropriation of proceeds from a real estate sale and his client's retainer.
Lichtenberg, acting as the attorney for Ellen Hyman, a former Kauai and Louisiana resident, helped sell Hyman's Kapaa home in 2004.
But instead of putting the money into Hyman's bank account, he allegedly headed overseas with the money, according to a lawsuit filed on Hyman's behalf earlier this year. Lichtenberg, 59, who had been court-appointed to a number of criminal cases in Lihue court, left soon after the money transfer without any notice to the court or his clients.
The lawsuit -- which names Lichtenberg; Title Guaranty Escrow Services, which transferred the money to Lichtenberg; and Kenneth Houghton, who bought the home -- is still awaiting a trial date.
Lichtenberg was arrested by federal agents Oct. 21 and indicted for mail and wire fraud in federal court in Honolulu in November. He remains in federal custody after pleading not guilty to the charges, and the trial is scheduled for Jan. 8.
Hyman, who, according to her new lawyer Daniel Hempey, is suffering from cancer and diabetes, had planned to use the proceeds from the sale of her home to retire to Louisiana.
But everything she owned in Louisiana was destroyed when Hurricane Katrina struck in September.
Licthenberg, who joined the Hawaii bar in 2003, is barred from accepting any new clients and retainers, and cannot practice law in the state unless he is reinstated by the court.