Vancouver lawyer John Briner has bought Palkowski & Co., the legal practice of Robert Palkowski, who ran afoul of the Law Society of British Columbia last year and agreed to resign rather than face a hearing for serious allegations of professional misconduct.
Briner says he acquired the firm on Dec. 31 and notified the LSBC of the takeover. Since then, he says, his firm has been in regular contact with the LSBC going over files. “There have been no issues to date.”
Briner, though, is under investigation by the LSBC after being cited in September 2009 by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations he participated in manipulating the penny stock of Golden Apple & Gas Inc. in what is called a pump-and-dump scheme that began in 2005 and culminated in September 2009. On Sept. 1, 2009, the SEC filed a civil complaint in the Southern District of New York against Briner for the promotion.
Without admitting or denying information in the complaint, Briner agreed in late November to a five-year ban in appearing before the SEC as a lawyer and participating in the offering of penny stocks. A final SEC condition in the four-page SEC administrative ruling stated that he “pay [US]$52,488.32 in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains from his sale of stock, and $14,880.08 in prejudgment interest and $25,000 civil money penalty.”
The LSBC verified that Briner notified it by phone that he had acquired the Palkowski’s practice. There is no requirement that LSBC consent to a lawyer acquiring the firm of a lawyer who has ceased practicing.
Palkowski resigned the practice of law in December in the face of serious allegations related to professional misconduct. There are 11 allegations logged against him, centring around a B.C. Supreme Court judge, who in 2007, accused him of orchestrating a sham security scheme to bail out his client, Fred Gilliland, who had been arrested on fraud charges and was facing extradition to the United States.
Law society spokesperson Lesley Pritchard says the LSBC has started an investigation into Briner because of the SEC ruling. “We are working hard to conclude that investigation,” she states in an e-mail.