Tulsa Lawyer Accused Of Stealing Client's Settlement Money
TULSA, Oklahoma - Documents show one of Tulsa’s top lawyers is suspended from practicing law in Oklahoma.
Attorney Robert Nichols has taught ethics at University of Tulsa law school, but one of his former clients is accusing him of stealing almost $200,000.
Ralph Mackey said he trusted Nichols for years in an eminent domain case but when it came time to get a settlement check, Mackey said Nichols kept it all to himself.
Mackey said he never signed a check for $198,332, but his name is on it along with the real estate fraud attorney’s signature.
"Obviously didn't look like my signature at all. My heart just sunk. My stomach turned," Mackey said.
He and Nichols were in a five-year eminent domain fight with the City of Tulsa over plans to expand the Gilcrease Expressway - the expansion cut 20 acres out of Mackey's 40 acre property near 41st West Avenue and 31st Street.
Their negotiations were wrapping up this time last year and Nichols was set to accept the almost $200,000 settlement check on behalf of his client.
"Was looking forward to finally having everything ended, finally receiving my money," Mackey said.
But he never saw the check.
Mackey said he emailed Nichols for months -- "Hey Robert, do you have my money? How long have you had my money? Please answer all of my emails that you have not replied to."
He said Nichols' responses were just excuse after excuse until Attorney Edward Lindsey got involved and filed a lawsuit against his law firm.
"When you settle a case, the first person who should get their money is the client. And he was hiding that he had gotten the money and used the money for other purposes, and he had to be sued to come clean on that,” Lindsey said.
In the lawsuit, Lindsey and Mackey are asking Nichols for $250,000. Lindsey said Nichols has paid $7,000 of it, and Mackey needs the rest of it, ironically, to pay attorneys' fees.
"You're sitting around and you're waiting, and you're waiting, and waiting, and you haven't been paid and it affects everything," he said.
We called Nichols for comment but have not heard back. His law firm partner Brian Curthoys, who is named in the suit, has not had his license suspended.