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Wyoming Supreme Court disbars former lawyer for ethical violations, theft of funds


CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Supreme Court has issued an order of disbarment of a former Buffalo lawyer.

Tonia R. Hanson’s law license has been revoked effective immediately, according to a news release from the Wyoming State Bar. The order of disbarment stemmed from two complaints received by the Wyoming State Bar’s Office of Bar Counsel regarding Hanson.

The Bar Counsel’s investigation of the two complaints revealed a pattern of violations of ethical rules regarding lawyer trust accounts. The investigation also revealed significant breaches of Hanson’s fiduciary duties regarding elderly, vulnerable clients and other ethical violations, including misrepresentations to the tribunal and failure to comply with court orders.

In one case, Hanson converted funds properly belonging to a guardianship/conservatorship to her own benefit, thereby breaching her fiduciary duty to the guardianship/conservatorship.

In a second case in which Hanson served as the lawyer for the estate of an elderly female client from whom Respondent had received hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hanson committed a theft of funds from the estate in violation of a court order for distribution of the estate. In so doing, Hanson defrauded the beneficiary of the estate, Wyoming Community Foundation, of substantial funds which should have been paid to the foundation.

In its order of disbarment, the Supreme Court directed Hanson to pay restitution in the amount of $40,000 to Wyoming Community Foundation and to pay $4,128.99 in costs and administrative fees to the Wyoming State Bar.