Jackson lawyer surrenders license after admission of embezzlement

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Joe T. Buerkle, a Jackson lawyer, surrendered his law license earlier this month before the Missouri Supreme Court, the result of disciplinary action the court took after he was found to have embezzled $325,000 from a client's trust fund.

Buerkle had been practicing law in Missouri since 1968. He voluntarily surrendered his license Aug. 6, according to the Missouri Supreme Court, following a recommendation by the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel.

The counsel is an arm of the Supreme Court that investigates allegations of misconduct by lawyers and prosecutes if the misconduct rises to the level of a threat to public harm or to the integrity of the legal profession.

According to the recommendation the counsel's office filed with the court, Buerkle was serving as attorney and trustee of a deceased client's trust and deposited several checks into his own personal bank account.

He signed all of the checks as a trustee and without permission of any of the benefactors of the client's trust.

Buerkle reported his own actions to the office of the chief disciplinary counsel, according to court documents.

Beginning in February 2006 and ending in August 2007, Buerkle withdrew about $325,000 from his client's account and deposited the money into his own account. Because of his financial condition, he was unable to pay back the amount taken from his client's account.

In surrendering his license to practice law in Missouri, Buerkle admitted his misconduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct that members of the Missouri Bar are sworn to uphold.



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