N.C. Bar places injunction on Conover attorney

The N.C. State Bar placed an injunction on a Newton attorney and requested more of his financial records.

A Wake County Superior Court judge ordered Friday that a preliminary injunction be placed on Lewis E. Waddell, a licensed Bar attorney who operates a Newton office and lives in Conover, after it appears he mishandled funds in a local client’s estate bank account.

The Bar also requested Waddell turn over current and closed client files for further investigation.

Waddell says he has consented to the order and has turned over all of his financial records.

“I think this matter will be resolved,” Waddell said. “I have full confidence in my financial records. There’s not a single thing wrong in my financial records. The only discrepancy is those two withdrawals that I made when I thought I had authority, and I didn’t.”

According to a preliminary Bar investigation, Waddell made two unauthorized $10,000 withdrawals from the Curt Vaught Estate bank account without the knowledge or consent of the Vaught estate executrix, which was the sole signatory on the estate account.

The Bar’s investigation also showed that no disbursements should have been made on behalf of the estate at the time Waddell made the withdrawals.

The Bar's injunction enjoins Waddell from serving as an attorney-in-fact, trustee, executor, personal representative or in any other fiduciary capacity. Waddell is prohibited from accepting any further funds from clients or third parties in a fiduciary capacity, from withdrawing any funds from and/or writing checks against any account in which client or fiduciary funds have been deposited, and from directing any employee or agent to withdraw funds from and/or write a check against any account in which client or fiduciary funds have been deposited, according to the injunction.

Waddell, who lives in Conover, has been a licensed attorney since 1966, according to his office’s website. His website says he specializes in the areas of civil, family, traffic, criminal, real estate and personal injury law, as well as wills, estate administration, guardianships and corporate issues.

Waddell has also served as Catawba County attorney, and attorney for the towns of Maiden and Catawba.

Waddell lost a November 2011 race for Conover City Council.

Waddell said he took the money out of the account to resolve final matters in the estate. He said the two withdrawals of $10,000 are being paid back.

The Bar is now reviewing Waddell’s other financial records, and the Consent Order of Preliminary Injunction will remain in effect until further notice from the court, according to the hearing.

“They wanted the records, and my office submitted every single record,” Waddell said. “I’m just waiting to hear back from them.”