Former Casper Attorney Suspended by Wyoming Supreme Court
The Wyoming Supreme Court has issued a disciplinary suspension order for Hampton Young, who had operated in Wyoming since 2005, for one year.
Based on a press release by the Wyoming state bar, Young’s mixed the funds held in his lawyer trust account, which is not supposed to be used for personal expenses, and his personal account.
In the report filed detailing Young's actions, it states that since at least 2016, Young had put the money received from clients into his trust account and then used those funds to pay for things unrelated to clients.
Also alleged in the report are the actions of one of his paralegal's, Natalie Benson, who took over the estate savings account for the recently deceased Marie Delphaine Kincheloe.
On Aug. 2 2018 an estate checkings account was opened at Wells Fargo Bank in Casper, which soon had $89,905.25 deposited into it in the form of a cashier's check.
By Oct. 31, the balance of the account had gone down to $15,980.98, with almost all the money spent on personal shopping by Benson, including but not limited to $20,000 on a used Suburban, $3,538 on a bed, and thousand of dollars at Walmart, Macy's, Sam's Club, and Target.
By the end of November 2018, there was $110.81 remaining in the estate checking account.
In a deposition, Benson said that Troy Kincheloe, the intended beneficiary of the estate, who was incarcerated at the time, had signed a release of liability confirming his receipt of all funds.
After the account was empty, Benson used funds from Young's operating and trust account to pay back Kincheloe, as well as a $15,000 loan from her sister and a $14,000 Paycheck Protection Loan from the federal government.
According to the report, Young claimed to be unaware of any of the alleged embezzlement that Benson committed, as the money she took came out of Young's operating and trust accounts and accounted for more money than Young made during that time.
However, the review panel found that Young's "complete abdication of his professional duty of oversight of a nonlawyer assistant was so pervasive as to rise to the level of knowledge."
Benson had acted as Young's bookkeeper for several years until the unauthorized transactions were discovered.
According to an investigation, there was no evidence that any client was harmed.
Sharon Wilkinson, executive director at the Wyoming State Bar, said that Young moved out of Wyoming in December 2021 and that there is no punishment the state bar can impose on paralegals.
Mark Gifford, legal counsel for the Wyoming state bar, said that it took a while to get Hampton and Benson into a deposition, where Hampton learned what had happened.
"It wasn't until I think August that we finally got the records and that's when I looked at them and went 'eh this is really bad,' so I told Hampton that I wanted to take his deposition and Natalie's, cause I think Hampton was just in denial," Gifford said. "I don't think he knew what Natalie had done to him. So it was on the record in those depositions that Hampton had found out what she had done to him, and you can imagine what that was like, it was just crushing."
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