A Baltimore County attorney who acknowledged having inadvertently disclosed information that led to a client's murder agreed to an indefinite suspension of his law license, records show.
Larry J. Feldman, an attorney for 17 years, will be suspended from practicing law as of Saturday after agreeing that he violated provisions of the Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct when he told Tavon Davis more than four years ago that prosecutors wanted to speak with his client, Isiah Callaway, in a criminal investigation.
Davis had hired Feldman in late 2010 to represent Callaway, 19, a suspect in a check fraud scheme. Documents related to the license suspension say the attorney did not know that Davis also was a suspect in the fraud scheme until after Callaway's murder.
After Feldman told Davis that federal prosecutors wanted to speak to Callaway, Davis hired a hit man to kill Callaway in East Baltimore.
Feldman told The Baltimore Sun in 2011 that, "In a million years, I never thought anything would lead to Isiah's death."
According to documents from the Attorney Grievance Commission, Callaway and Davis referred to each other as brothers and Callaway had insisted that Davis sit in on one meeting with Feldman.
But in federal criminal proceedings, Davis testified that Feldman joked about having Callaway killed, suggesting that Davis could "send him to Costa Rica or get rid of him the Sicilian way."
Callaway's family alleged in a lawsuit that Feldman had been fully informed of the check fraud scheme and that Davis had told him that he wanted to be insulated from criminal liability. The grievance commission documents show Feldman agreed to a "substantial confidential settlement" in that case.
Feldman's agreement with the commission states that he "wrongly and improperly concluded that he was authorized to speak with Davis" about Callaway's case.
Such sanctions against attorneys in Maryland are rare. The grievance commission receives about 1,900 complaints a year, and in fiscal year 2014 sanctioned 87 attorneys. That includes 26 who were disbarred, down from an all-time high of 47 in fiscal year 2012.
Feldman, who also acknowledged having accepted prostitution services from another client, had not been disciplined previously by the commission. He cooperated with federal investigators and was prepared to testify if needed in the Callaway murder case, and the commission noted that he had provided thousands of hours of free legal work.
Court filings show Davis told a friend that he was the "schmuck of the year" for ordering Callaway's death, realizing the penalty for the original check fraud scheme would have been much less than he faced for having someone killed. Davis was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison in the murder case.
Bruce Byrd, who was convicted of carrying out the shooting, received 40 years in prison. Another conspirator, Frank Marfo, received a life term. Federal authorities said there was no evidence to warrant charging Feldman.
Feldman and his attorney did not return calls seeking comment. A recording at his law office phone number says he is not accepting new clients.