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Lawyer revoked for mishandling clients’ money

A Woodbridge lawyer accused of commingling and converting client money had his law license revoked in an expedited proceeding last month.

The Virginia State Bar accused Jean Jerome Dandy Ngando Ekwalla of using his office trust account – not to safeguard client money – but to “protect his funds and for his personal benefit.”

The attorney – who practiced as Jerome D. Ngando – used trust account money to buy liquor, theater tickets and hotel and restaurant services, according to the bar charges.

Ngando’s conduct “demonstrates a reckless attitude regarding the protection of client funds and thereby creates substantial risk of financial damage to said clients,” a bar lawyer wrote in September.

The bar said Ngando had overdraft protection on his trust account and used it often. Overdrafts were not reported to the VSB, the bar alleged.

Five clients filed bar complaints against Ngando, the charges showed. One was issued a refund check for advance fee payments, but had to take the check to Ngando’s bank four times before the bank would cash it, according to the bar charges.

The VSB Disciplinary Board revoked Ngando’s license Oct. 22, effective Oct. 29, according to a summary order. The five-member panel agreed the bar had proved eight rules violations.

Ngando received a law degree at American University in 2003, according to his biography posted online. He was admitted to the bar in Virginia in 2006. He worked as in-house counsel before starting his general practice law firm in 2008, the biography said.

Ngando’s biography said he has more than 18 years of combined legal experience working at law firms and multinational companies in the U.S. and abroad.

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