Attorneys for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers this week asked a Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) justice to temporarily suspend Edward “Pete” Vincent’s license to practice law.
The temporary suspension is not the board’s final decision on sanctions against Mr. Vincent, but it would prevent him from practicing law while investigators complete their inquiry. The board could impose sanctions ranging from no action, to disbarment.
The lawyers filed the petition with Mr. Vincent’s agreement, according to court documents. SJC Associate Justice Francis X. Spina was assigned to rule on the petition.
Mr. Vincent, a prominent Edgartown attorney and town official, is currently facing criminal charges of fiduciary embezzlement and larceny, following his arrest in April. The charges stem from two real estate transactions where Mr. Vincent served as an attorney. The clients alleged they entrusted more than $600,000 to him, but he failed to distribute the money as required by law. That money is still unaccounted for. Mr. Vincent settled two civil lawsuits by making restitution for the missing funds, with proceeds from a mortgage taken on land owned by his wife.
The petition to suspend a law license is unusual, even in cases where lawyers are accused of serious wrongdoing. A judge can impose the suspension if “the lawyer poses a threat of substantial harm to present or future clients,” according to the rules of the SJC.
The Board of Bar Overseers investigation could remain open for several months.
According to a lawyer for the board, the outcome of the criminal case against Mr. Vincent will weigh on the board’s decision. He is scheduled for trial in Edgartown District Court in September.