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Lawyer convicted of providing drugs to inmate

A jury has found an attorney from Grand Rapids, Michigan, guilty of drug charges for delivering drugs to an inmate in the Antrim County Jail.

Now, the man, 43, faces a prison sentence and the possible loss of the right to practice law in Michigan.

After a trial that lasted two-and-a-half days, the jury convicted the man of one count of delivering a controlled substance and another count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

The county assistant prosecutor who worked on the case said the attorney gave his client, a woman jailed on drug charges, Suboxone at a meeting in May 2011. That drug treats opiate addiction. Additionally, the jury heard testimony that the lawyer delivered heroin to her while she was incarcerated in a different county jail.

The assistant prosecutor said no one should express surprise that jail guards did not find the Suboxone when the attorney entered the jail. As officers of the court, attorneys are not subject to as thorough a search as are non-professional visitors, he said.

That likely will change, however. The Antrim County undersheriff said after attorneys undergo a mild search, they are free to meet privately with the inmates they represent. The undersheriff said jail officials are working on updating that policy that governs the search while still maintaining attorney-client privileges.

While the court has not yet set the attorney's sentencing date, he could spend as long as seven years in prison. The Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission has received notification of his conviction. That agency is in charge with reviewing such cases and recommending the ones they find to have merit to the body that issues discipline.

By smuggling a drug into prison, the attorney broke the law he was hired to uphold. However, the attorney perhaps thought he was doing the right thing in an attempt to ease his client off of her drug habit.

Source: Traverse City Record-Eagle, "Attorney convicted of sneaking drugs to inmate," Art Bukowski, Sept. 18. 2012

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