A lawyer disbarred for criminal conduct in 2012 has been reinstated by order of the state Supreme Court.
Richard A. Sand, 69, a former White Bear Township board chair, won a favorable ruling from the court Wednesday after satisfying reinstatement requirements and demonstrating to the majority that he has undergone the necessary moral change. There was one dissent.
Sand went to prison in 2011 for his part in a fraudulent loan scheme involving a $2 million deal on an Orono residential property. According to the ruling, Sand submitted false loan applications in the name of his 86-year-old mother. He then diverted the fraudulently obtained funds to his own use, which included redeeming a foreclosed property he owned in St. Paul.
He was sentenced to 30 months on one count of aiding and abetting wire fraud and another count of aiding and abetting money laundering and spent 14 months in prison before his release. He was disbarred in 2012.
He applied for reinstatement in November 2018. That prompted an investigation by the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board director into a 2013 complaint from a client, which also involved real estate transactions that caused his client to lose money.
That allegation was not initially investigated because Sand was already disbarred when the complaint was received.
The court found Wednesday that Sand voluntarily agreed to repay and has made monthly payments to the client. He is also working with a lawyer to enter into a contractual repayment schedule, the court found.
Associate Justice Gordon Moore dissented, despite “recognizing laudable progress.”
“I do not agree that Sand has met his heavy burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence a ‘present ability to adhere to the strict code of professional morality,’” Moore wrote, quoting the court’s 1979 In re Peterson ruling. “I also disagree that sufficient time has elapsed to justify reinstatement.”
The majority agreed with Moore that the three-member LPBR panel relied only on Sand’s testimony to determine whether his conduct has changed, but decided that was no reason to deny reinstatement. “We have never held that a petitioner must present corroborating testimony to secure reinstatement,” Wednesday’s order says.
In any event, the court noted, the LPBR director’s investigation did involve corroborating testimony. Sand has met his burden, the majority ruled.
Like the Supreme Court, the Lawyer’s Professional Responsibility Board panel that looked into the matter had one dissenting member.
Sand, first admitted to practice law in Minnesota in 1979, has been working as a paralegal at Sand Law LLC, a personal injury practice owned by his two sons.
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