For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Todd Dvorak
(208) 334-4112

Date: April 29, 2015

Judge Orders Jail Against White Hat Group Owner For Violating Settlement With Attorney General

(Boise) – A judge has ordered a Boise man accused of providing unlawful legal services to spend 21 days in jail for violating a settlement agreement with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

Fourth District Judge Jason D. Scott on Wednesday found Mark Wicklund, 61, in contempt on seven counts, including providing legal services to at least two clients when he was prohibited from doing so by a consent judgment reached with Wasden in 2013.

Wasden filed a motion alleging 13 separate contempt counts in February after receiving complaints from three consumers who had paid Wicklund, and his company, The White Hat Group, Inc., for legal advice and services.

“I’m pleased that the court has decided to hold Mr. Wicklund accountable for his misleading actions and ignoring the terms of our agreement,” Wasden said. “I also hope this will serve as another reminder for consumers to be smart and savvy when searching for legal advice and representation.”

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division began its initial investigation when consumers complained White Hat Group failed to perform legal services after receiving payments. Wasden then accused Wicklund of misrepresenting himself to consumers as a qualified attorney.

In the 2013 settlement, Wicklund agreed to pay $8,000 in restitution to former clients and abstain from engaging in any kind of legal services in Idaho. The agreement also included a $50,000 fine that was suspended.

Within months of signing that agreement, Wicklund resumed providing legal counsel to clients, Wasden said.

In one case, Wicklund began advising a client in February 2014 on a custody dispute and a contested real estate contract in Texas.

In the second case, Wicklund advised a client, starting in late 2012 through April 2014, involved in a medical and legal malpractice cases. Documents filed by Wasden accuse Wicklund of representing himself as an attorney with expertise in the federal court system.

Judge Scott also banned Wicklund from owning and operating his own legal services or any commercial enterprise in Idaho. Judge Scott ordered that the White Hat Group be dissolved and asked Wasden to notify the Idaho Secretary of State of the decision.

“My office takes enforcement of settlement agreements seriously,” Wasden said. “While it’s not often necessary to take these steps, this makes it clear that we intend to pursue contempt actions to enforce these agreements.”

The six remaining contempt counts were dismissed by the judge. Wicklund must still pay the restitution and financial penalties spelled out in the 2013 settlement agreement.

The Attorney General recommends that consumers speak with a licensed attorney if they have questions about their legal rights or options. Consumers may contact the appropriate state licensing agency to ensure an attorney is licensed in the state where they need assistance. In Idaho, that agency is the Idaho State Bar, which is available at: www.isb.idaho.gov or at (208) 334-4500.

Details of the 2013 consent judgment are available here.

 

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