Yalincak Lawyer Gets Wrist Slap For Fee Violations

Jun 4 2007 | 8:39am ET

It seems New York University student turned hedge fund fraudster Hakan Yalincak is something of a victim himself—not just of a possibly intentional drug overdose, but also of his one-time lawyer.

Michael Sherman, a widely-known Connecticut defense attorney who also represented Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel in his murder trial (Skakel, like Yalincak, was convicted), was reprimanded over fees he charged Yalincak by a state bar grievance panel.

Sherman, who had never before received such reproached in his long career, admitted that he failed to put his most recent fee agreement with Yalincak in writing, and that he failed to provide information to an earlier grievance panel in a timely fashion. In exchange, the panel dropped three other charges: that Sherman tried to buy his way out of the grievance, filed by Yalincak, by returning part of the fee, charging unreasonable fees and depositing those fees into the wrong account.

“The bottom line is, I think you get four before they suspend you,” he told the Hartford Courant last week. “If I keep up at this rate, they’re going to suspend me from practicing in 105 years. And the likelihood of running into another Hakan in 105 years is slight.”

Sherman represented Yalincak from June 2004 until Oct. 24, 2005, and charged him $175,000. He later returned $50,000. According to Sherman, he stopped representing the now-convicted fraudster due to “a conflict of interest, which I could only share with the U.S. attorney’s office as well as the court.”

Yalincak pleaded guilty to bank and mail fraud related to his multi-million dollar hedge fund scam last year, and was sentenced last month to 3 ½ years in prison and ordered to pay $4.18 million in restitution. His mother also pleaded guilty, to abetting the scam, and received a two-year stretch.

The now 22-year-old Yalincak said his grievance stems from a federal tax fraud investigation, in which Internal Revenue Service agents interviewed him about his relationship with Sherman. The lawyer brushes off the accusations.

“It’s not worth going there,” Sherman said. “It’s something so irrelevant to Hakan, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not an issue.”

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