|Re: 12/10/11 - [SLJB] Windsor Star: Disbarred lawyer blames bookkeeper; Accused denies violence, but confirms affair |
Disbarred lawyer blames bookkeeper Accused denies violence, but confirms affair
BY BRIAN CROSS, THE WINDSOR STAR DECEMBER 10, 2011
Disbarred lawyer Scott Sullivan laid much of the blame for money wrongly taken from his firm's accounts on the bookkeeper who last week testified he forced her to submit to beatings in the nude.
Testifying Friday at his fraud trial - where prosectors are asserting he diverted money for his own use and bilked clients of hundreds of thousands of dollars - the former real estate lawyer said there was no physical violence between he and Kristine Robinson-Limanek.
Robinson-Limanek testified Tuesday that when she messed up at work, Sullivan would take her to her home, force her to strip and assault her with a stick. She said she was paralyzed by her fear of her former boss.
"Did (Robinson-Limanek) ever appear to be paralyzed with fear," Sullivan's lawyer Dan Scott asked.
Sullivan quickly answered "No," before Scott could continue, "while she worked for you?"
"No," Sullivan, 43, repeated. He did confirm they had a sexual relationship that lasted from 2000 to 2007, while both were married. Their trysts happened in the office and at home, he said. "I don't think there was a set pattern."
He said he "terminated" the relationship in 2007, about a year before allegations began surfacing of missing money and the Law Society started investigating in April 2008.
Robinson-Limanek ran the real estate portion of his law practice, said Sullivan. He said he twice loaned her money, loaned her $27,969 to pay for law school and gave her a company credit card. When asked if the end of their affair soured their working relationship, Sullivan said he didn't believe so at the time.
Earlier in the trial, Sullivan's former partner Daniel Bornais testified that Robinson-Limanek did a poor job keeping the law firm's books, with little explanation for some entries and little accounting of frequent cheques Sullivan wrote to himself from general and trust accounts.
Scott went over a number of processed cheques and had Sullivan explain them. Some were issued from an inactive company to employees at the request of the client, Sullivan said. Some were made out to a firm employee in handwriting that's "not mine," according to Sullivan. One $1,150 cheque was written to Robinson-Limanek's husband. Robinson-Limanek had explained to him the money was for parking signs outside the firm's Shepherd Street office, though Sullivan said he had no memory of the husband doing any work there.
There was also a $3,157.44 cheque to help pay Robinson-Limanek's campaign expenses when she ran for the Conservatives in the 2007 provincial election in Windsor-Tecumseh. Sullivan, a former president of the riding association, said he did not donate to her campaign.
Sullivan testified how it was common, when he was going to be away, to sign a number of blank cheques to leave with Robinson-Limanek to cover expenses. "As needed, I would just sign a stack of them," he said.
Robinson-Limanek became Sullivan's assistant starting in 1996 and moved with him when he started his own firm in 1999. When his bookkeeper left, Robinson-Limanek offered to do the job to earn extra money, he said.
"She was under financial distress. Her husband was either not employed or under-employed, it seemed like most of the time."
He said for the first few months he monitored how she was faring with the books. After that, he was "not very supervisory," he said.
"It just wasn't something I did. If you ask me now, was it necessary, well, I guess it was, but it just didn't enter my mind."
Sullivan has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of fraud, forging documents and breach of trust for his alleged mishandling of about $300,000 of clients' money. His testimony continues Monday.
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