State board reprimands city lawyer.
A Worcester lawyer has been publicly reprimanded by the state Board of Bar Overseers.
Amy E. Valletta agreed to the discipline in connection with her guardianship of a disabled man who was discharged from a state hospital to a group home in December 2004, according to the board. The man received $105,000 in back benefits from the Veterans Administration and $2,400 per month.
She was reprimanded for failure to get a reasonable return on her ward's funds, comply with Veterans Administration regulations, promptly get and restore all of the benefits he was entitled to, file probate accounts, and make disbursements for the ward on a timely basis.
Ms. Valletta's powers were enlarged by the Probate Court in January 2005, although she had no experience or expertise in handling the financial affairs of a disabled veteran and she failed to inform herself adequately of VA requirements, according to the state board. Although she arranged to have his checks sent to her office in his name, she failed to keep the funds in a segregated, interest-bearing account with earned interest paid for her ward's benefit.
Occasionally, Ms. Valletta failed to issue timely payments to her ward's group home or to her ward's wife, who also was disabled and who was receiving some of his benefits, the board said. She also failed to notify the Veterans Administration when she moved her office and the VA suspended payments in April 2006, with her failing to take adequate steps to restore the benefits before September 2007.
Ms. Valletta also had been admonished in 2006 for failure to act diligently in her client's divorce case. Mitigating her behavior was that she had to attend to serious family illness, and she took necessary steps to administer her fiduciary funds.