NEW ORLEANS — Longtime Hammond attorney James A. Dukes, who has been convicted of stealing at least $186,000 from a client, has been indefinitely suspended following a Jan. 8 Louisiana Supreme Court order.
In its single-page order, the Supreme Court granted an Office of Disciplinary Counsel petition and placed Dukes on interim suspension. The high court also ordered "that necessary disciplinary proceedings be instituted."
Dukes was admitted to the bar in Louisiana on Oct. 7, 1977, according to his profile at the Louisiana State Bar Association's website. Dukes has been inactive since July 2018, according to his profile.
Scott Perrilloux, district attorney for Tangipahoa, Livingston and St. Helena parishes, announced in December that the 69-year-old James Dukes had been found guilty of theft of $25,000 or more, theft of assets of aged persons over $1,500, and exploitation of the infirmed.
The victim of the alleged theft reported she entered into a living will and power of attorney with Dukes "and he spent the majority of her life savings without her consent," Perrilloux said in a press release.
After the client "began noticing her funds being depleted from her bank accounts," she had a CPA examine her financial statements and "the CPA concluded that approximately $266,000 was missing from her accounts," the press release said.
During a formal interview in September 2017 at the Hammond Police Department, Dukes said "he spent the money on himself and his family," the press release said.
"Dukes advised he was told by the victim that the money was his and he was included in her will; [therefore] he felt like he was spending 'his' money," the press release continued. "Dukes admitted to having intimate knowledge of the accounts and the victim’s finances and that he only opened one account with the victim’s money."
Dukes also admitted during the interview that his client had not known about the accounts, according to the press release.
"Detectives calculated at least $186,000 transferred from the victim’s accounts into the accounts of James Dukes without her consent," the press release said.
Now retired Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Jerome Winsberg presided over the case, according to the press release.