[ My apologies: when this was first posted, I had inadvertently pasted in an excerpt from the Justice press release when I thought I had inserted a link to the complaint. The result was gibberish, and I apologize profusely. Thanks to reader Neil Dorr for alerting me. No more posts composed on my netbook while watching the O.J. miniseries, I promise.]
Today the Justice Department announced a criminal complaint charging attorney Jack Vitayanon with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Incredibly, Vitayanon, who is under arrest, is an attorney with the Internal Revenue Service Office of Professional Responsibility in Washington, D.C. That’s the office that monitors IRS lawyers’ ethics. He’s also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where I got my law degree. I’m so proud.
Well, AMC needed a “Breaking Bad’ sequel.
The complaint says that Vitayanon conspired with others in Arizona and on Long Island to distribute methamphetamine for several years.He recently negotiated and competed the sales of distribution quantities of methamphetamine to undercover HSI special agents, and were recorded on internet-based video chats and text messages. Then the professor shipped the methamphetamine from his apartment in Washington D.C. to Long Island via Federal Express.
Vitayanon was also observed in his residence smoking methamphetamine from a glass pipe. A search of the defendant’s Washington D.C. apartment executed pursuant to a warrant led to the seizure of additional quantities of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, packaging materials and drug ledgers.
In other words, they’ve got him dead to rights.
The defendant graduated from Dartmouth, got his law degree at Columbia, and received his Masters in Taxation from NYU. A lawyer cannot be admitted to any bar without a showing of reliable and honest character. The system and the profession could not have failed more miserably.
Vitayanon is the criminal, but the legal profession and the IRS allowed the rot to get into works.
11 thoughts on “Now THIS Is An Unethical Lawyer…In Fact An Unethical ETHICS Lawyer AND A Law Professor! [UPDATED]”
You are correct on all counts, Jack. But I would point out that this sordid scenario does have several redeeming facets: i) it is very teachable; ii) you cannot make this up, and don’t have to!; and, iii) ironically, this is the stuff of good, wry fiction. A good B movie, at least.
The guy may have had a Breaking Bad fixation, as you carefully note. Thanks for this story and your inimitable take on it.
I fear that words are missing in the first paragraph, or at least some punctuation. Great article otherwise!
YIKES! No kidding. I made what I thought was a link and instead pasted in a segment from another account. GIBBERISH! I fixed it. I owe you. Thanks.
Well he could hang with Marion Barry if he was still living.
Surely being a lawyer and a professor (presumably one with tenure) would provide sufficient income that one would not need to sell drugs?. One can only wonder what other ethical conflicts were going on in this man’s life to lead him down this path.
He was just an adjunct, and the IRS wouldn’t allow him to be a full time prof. But you’re still right.
Maybe he had cancer, and he wanted to see that his goldfish would continue enjoying their current standards of luxury.
“The defendant graduated from Dartmouth, got his law degree at Columbia, and received his Masters in Taxation from NYU. A lawyer cannot be admitted to any bar without a showing of reliable and honest character. The system and the profession could not have failed more miserably. Vitayanon is the criminal, but the legal profession and the IRS allowed the rot to get into works.”
From what I see here, Vitayanon may have been an altar boy when he graduated from law school and was admitted to the bar. I can only speculate whether he went bad later. But I also speculate that some of his legal peers failed to investigate/report suspicious behavior. From the context of the story, it seems that someone eventually saw–but not right away–that something was dreadfully wrong.
People just don’t “go bad.” Nothing, and I mean nothing, would make me start selling meth, and I would bet that this is true of every lawyer I know. “But I also speculate that some of his legal peers failed to investigate/report suspicious behavior.” BINGO.
Lawyers? Speed? Never the twain shall meet? Hah.
There was an assiciate at a big firm (for that time) in Phoenix whose nickname was “Dial-a-Memo.” A partner could ask him for a memorandum on some topic at 5 p.m. one day and the next morning the memo would be on the partner’s desk. A lawyer at the big firm (for that time) I worked for in Phoenix was reported to me by reliable sources to be using uppers called “white crosses” to allow him to perform amazing feats of billing prowess. And then there were the coke heads, identified as such to me by the white cross user. All were or later became partners.
How do you tell the difference between the speed freak and the guy who can bill 3600 hours a year?
Goes to show, drug dealing, using isn’t only about the poorer parts of our communities..It’s equal opportunity at its “finest”