Two Charlottesville-area attorneys have lost their right to practice law in the commonwealth following rulings by the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board.
According to documents released by the board, Timothy Litzenburg had his license revoked entirely following a June guilty plea to a federal extortion charge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
Larry L. Miller, of the now-defunct Miller Law Group PC, had his license suspended for three years after continuing to violate the rules of the Bankruptcy Court. Miller previously employed Unite the Right murder victim Heather Heyer but has no involvement with the Heather Heyer Foundation.
Litzenburg and Glen Allen attorney Daniel Kinchel pleaded guilty to attempting to extort $200 million from an unnamed company by threatening to inflict harm to its finances and reputation.
According to court documents, the two men threatened to make public statements alleging that the unnamed company was civilly liable for manufacturing a purportedly harmful chemical used in a common household product used to kill weeds.
The two men demanded a $200 million “consulting fee,” and planned to enter into a “consulting arrangement” with the company that would create a purported conflict-of-interest preventing them from being able to represent their clients in litigation against the company.
Documents released by the disciplinary board show that Litzenburg consented to the revocation of his license, choosing to forgo a hearing before the board. The documents also indicate some of what Litzenburg would have testified to and claim he has taken responsibility for his actions.
“If a hearing were held, [Litzenburg] would have testified to suffering from a long-time substance use disorder which affected his judgment,” the document reads. “He further would have testified as to his efforts at seeking and participating in treatment and recovery, including the Virginia Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.”
Litzenburg and Kinchel will be sentenced Sept. 18 and could face up to two years in prison.
According to documents released disciplinary board, Miller’s suspension follows a six-month suspension in 2014 for violating Bankruptcy Court rules. The documents detail a virtual hearing held before the board on July 28 in which Miller appeared late via telephone.
After Miller unsuccessfully sought to continue the hearing, Herbert L. Beskin, the Chapter 13 trustee for the Bankruptcy Court, was called as a witness. Beskin testified that both before and after the six-month suspension, documents Miller filed with the Bankruptcy Court on behalf of his clients contained numerous mistakes, inaccuracies and false statements.
During his closing arguments, Miller again attempted to continue the hearing and “referred to some data about his caseload that was not supported by any evidence,” according to documents.
The board unanimously found that Miller failed to adequately argue for dismissal or the imposition of a lesser discipline than the three-year suspension instituted by the Bankruptcy Court. Consequently, the board decided to impose the same suspension as the Bankruptcy Court gave Miller this past spring, barring him from practicing law in the commonwealth until April 20, 2023.
Per the board’s decision, Miller must inform all clients for whom he is currently handling matters and all opposing attorneys and presiding judges in pending litigation about his suspension.
A dissenting opinion from a board member contended that, per the board’s rules, Miller should not have been allowed to participate in the hearing because he called in late and did not “appear” via video like the others. The member also argued that Miller’s license should be suspended for three years beginning on July 28 and not the earlier date when the Bankruptcy Court instituted its suspension.
“From March 19, 2020, through July 28, 2020, [Miller] was licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and did practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” the dissenting opinion reads. “By counting this period toward [Miller’s] suspension, the majority, in effect, suspended [Miller’s] license for a period of fewer than three years; and, in doing so, failed to comply with the Rules.”
Since the disciplinary board’s decision on July 28, the Miller Law Group website has been deleted and the associated phone numbers have been disconnected. Miller could not be reached for comment.