Former Attorney files for bankruptcy; clients hope audit will he - WSMV News 4

Former Attorney files for bankruptcy; clients hope audit will help reclaim missing funds

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Attorney Andy Allman (WSMV file photo) Attorney Andy Allman (WSMV file photo)
HENDERSONVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

From Sumner County to Nashville, dozens of people share stories of heartbreak, frustration, anxiety and depression after losing money to former Hendersonville attorney Andy Allman.

For Kevin Dycus, it was $108,000 from his ex-wife's will – money intended for his teenage son to go to college.

Dycus said he's known Allman since the seventh grade.

"That's been part of my issue is that I trusted Andy quite a bit," Dycus said. "I simply needed him to get a court order to put this into a trust to move over to Edward Jones. I was told this process would take about 90 days and it's been a little over, well about two years.”

Dycus said the ordeal has been heartbreaking for his son, who not only has to mourn the loss of his mother, but also the loss of money she left for him.

He's now 18, attending summer classes at Vol State. Dycus said his son had dreams of attending The University of Tennessee, but many of their plans have changed after never receiving the money from the will.

"Supposedly, this money was moved into an Andy Allman trust," Dycus said. "I can't prove that it's gone, but I can't get it. ... I don't know where to turn. It's extremely frustrating."

For Darlene Batey, her parents’ nearly $100,000 will was in Allman's hands. They made him executor. Batey said she had to beg him to pay the funeral home and nursing home after her mother's death.

"I always pay my bills. It was very frustrating for me to have me even associated with bad debt," Batey said.

The rest of the money, including a portion that was assigned to her teenage daughter, is still missing.

Batey said she has known Allman since he was a little boy.

For Cathy Brown, it was her deceased father's $250,000 estate that hung in the balance. She needed the money to help get her nephew into rehab after a debilitating football injury.

"A little later, we found out that $250,000 was gone. In about two weeks he had spent it," Brown said.

It was during Brown's case that Allman was arrested after a raid on his home. Her criminal case is moving forward in Davidson County.

Allman faces eight to 12 years in prison under the Class B felony theft, if convicted.

"This is all I can think about," Brown said. "I would wake up in the middle of the night having panic attacks about it because I feel liable because I chose Andy, because I trusted him and knew him, and he knew about my nephew and acted like he cared. … Some days I have hope, and some days I don't.”

Each of the clients who spoke with Channel 4 on Wednesday are even more frustrated to know Allman has filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

"Are we going to suffer another injustice of the law that he can hide behind bankruptcy?" Batey asked. "Every one of us at some point put our trust in him. It's just not right.”

"I would like to see where the money went," Brown said. "I would like to see the money trail, because in my mind it just doesn't add. I know when I just add these people up, it's almost $2 million. Where did it go? That's what I would like to see.”

Like many others, Angela Wolf hired Allman to fight a workplace discrimination lawsuit. She said she had to borrow $4,500 to retain him. She claims Allman missed deadlines and dropped contact, and ultimately ran out of time to try the case.

"The way I look at it, $4,500 may [as well] have been $45,000. It was just money that I didn't have. As you know, I had to borrow it," Wolf said.

Nearly two years later, she still saves a voice message she says is Allman promising to return her money.

Wolf, like other former Allman clients, has stacks of letters from the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which ultimately suspended Allman's law license. Some have called local district attorneys and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. For now, they wait.

According to court documents, Allman filed bankruptcy without an attorney and without notifying creditors. Some of his former clients are listing themselves as creditors, hoping he will have to pay them back through bankruptcy court.

Attorney Steve Lefkovitz is representing one of the creditors, a former client of Allman's.

He said Allman tried to have the bankruptcy filing dismissed, but Lefkovitz is objecting. He wants to audit Allman's finances through the court process.

"A bankruptcy trustee is going to try to set those transactions aside and recover that money for the benefit of all the victims," Lefkovitz said.

But it could be worse for some people who may have already gotten settlements from Allman. They could be asked to pay that money back.

"In a bankruptcy, these people who had settlements may very well be sued by the bankruptcy trustee to pay up the money," Lefkovitz said, explaining they don't know if the money from previous settlements actually came from other clients Allman owes.

"It would hurt the people who already made deals with Mr. Allman, but they should not have an undue advantage over others who weren't first in line," Lefkovitz said. "We want everybody to be treated equally on a level playing field."

He said if people don't have the money to pay the courts, they will need to raise it and pay it over time and wait to be paid fairly by Allman.

"They'll stand in line just like everybody else," Lefkovitz said.

It could be a long wait as the former clients continue the uphill battle to reclaim money they lost from a man they trusted.

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