review of the report of the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance
commission recommends revocation of attorney's license to
practice law for violations of disciplinary rules.
van Brederode and Wendell J. Harms, Des Moines, for
Anthony R. Johnson, Ankeny, for pro se respondent.
case is before us on review from a report and recommendation
of a division of the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance Commission
concerning attorney Anthony R. Johnson. The report found
Johnson committed ethical violations and recommended
revocation of his license to practice law. We find Johnson
violated the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct by engaging
in criminal conduct involving fraud. We revoke his license to
practice law in Iowa.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
R. Johnson is an Iowa lawyer in Ankeny. He was employed as an
accountant for Saxton Motors, LC. In August 2016, Johnson
entered an Alford plea in the Iowa District Court
for Polk County to the felony offense of fraudulent practice
in the first degree.The charge was supported by evidence that
Johnson embezzled substantial sums of money from his employer
by making false entries in the records of the business for
over a year. Essentially, Johnson funneled income from the
business into two secret, unauthorized business accounts he
established to receive the funds.
October 2016, the district court sentenced Johnson to a
suspended ten-year term of incarceration and placed him on
probation. The sentence also imposed a fine and ordered him
to pay restitution.
engaged in multiple instances of unethical conduct in the
past. His license was suspended in 2009 for abandoning his
legal practice in Ankeny. His license was never reinstated,
and he has not engaged in the practice of law since that
on the criminal conviction, the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney
Disciplinary Board filed a complaint against Johnson on May
25, 2018. It alleged that his conduct resulting in the
criminal conviction violated Iowa Rule of Professional
Conduct 32:8.4(b) (committing a criminal act that reflects
adversely on a lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or
fitness as a lawyer) and rule 32:8.4(c) (engaging in conduct
involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).
did not respond to the complaint after service of notice.
See Iowa Ct. R. 36.7 (providing allegations of
complaint are deemed admitted when respondent fails to timely
answer the complaint). He also did not appear at the hearing
on the complaint.
commission found Johnson violated rule 32:8.4(b) by
committing the crime of fraudulent practice in the first
degree. It also found the crime reflected adversely on
Johnson's fitness to practice law, as well as the honesty
and trustworthiness required of lawyers. It further found
Johnson violated rule 32:8.4(c) by knowingly and
intentionally defrauding his employer and that the dishonest
conduct also reflected ...