Next steps taken in collecting balance of disbarred attorney's $1 million restitution
The ball’s back to the York County Clerk of Courts Office as part of the latest volley in a case seeking to collect the rest of a former high-profile lawyer’s $1 million court-ordered restitution.
A judge directed Mark David Frankel and Clerk of Courts Daniel Byrnes to work together on a plan for recouping Frankel’s outstanding balance during a hearing in August. The ruling came out of a cost contempt case brought by Byrnes’ office.
The case alleged Frankel came out of probation from a theft case in December 2020, still owing more than $650,000 of a $1.1 million restitution he was ordered to pay as part of his sentence. The clerk’s office sought a six-month jail term and a $10,000 fine for the alleged contempt.
The 74-year-old Frankel argued he didn’t violate terms from his case, that he’s faithfully made $100 monthly payments as he was ordered to do.
Court data in August showed Frankel paid $323,313 of the original judgment and still owed $655,331. He made another $100 payment Aug. 24, according to records.
At the current pace, he’d settle the restitution debt in about 546 years.
During the Aug. 9 hearing, Common Pleas Judge Matthew Menges didn’t find Frankel in contempt. The decision was based primarily on the facts that Frankel was still making regular payments and the clerk’s office hadn’t reached out to Frankel discuss his financial situation before filing the petition.
Instead, Menges told Byrnes to send Frankel and his attorney a budget packet, and then gave Frankel a month to fill it out and send it back to the clerk’s office.
The information came in last week, a little past the 30-day deadline.
Frankel’s attorney, Jesse Congo, said the documents were sent to Byrnes’ office by certified mail.
“All documents that they requested have been submitted,” Congo said.
He noted they’ve requested an in-person meeting to discuss the matter.
Frankel did not reply to a request for a comment from him.
Byrnes confirmed the office received the materials, pointing out they were late but he won’t pursue legal action on that.
He said the next step is for the office to request a “complete financial picture” from Congo that includes responses to specific questions. Frankel and Congo then get 30 days to submit the reply.
“After we receive that, we will determine a monthly payment amount, lump sum payment amount or a combination of both,” Byrnes said.
If Frankel disagrees with the clerk’s office’s proposed payment amount, he could appeal that and leave it to Judge Menges to determine an amount.
The origins of the contempt case date back nearly 20 years.
Frankel he was disbarred in May 2004 over allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct in his office. Prior to that he was a well-known personal injury attorney known for his billboards and advertising on the back cover of telephone books. "Turn the book over," was his slogan.
A separate criminal case followed, accusing him of misusing about $1.1 million of his clients’ settlement money.
He was convicted in 2006 of 57 counts of theft by failing to make required disposition of funds and one count of misapplication of entrusted property.
A judge sentenced Frankel to two years in jail followed by 10 years of probation and ordered the $1.1 million restitution.
An initial payment of $304,609 was made in August 2007. Another $1,525 was paid through York County Work Release in December 2008.
Frankel then began making the regular $100 payments in February 2009, shortly after he was released from jail. The total adds up to a little more than $15,000 over the past 12½ years.
The monthly amount, he and Congo argued last month, came from a directive made by York County Probation in 2011, which was then modified in 2016.
The clerk’s office took over collections, including Frankel’s case, for the probation department a couple years ago as a way to ease the department’s administrative burden.
— Reach Aimee Ambrose at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.