A Janesville attorney was publicly reprimanded Tuesday for his representation and role in a business that represented Social Security disability claimants.
Carl Creedy, who worked in Orfordville at the time, went into business with Joseph Murphy of American Disability Entitlements LLC after Murphy inquired on whether they could work together to represent claimants in front of the Social Security Administration. Murphy, who is not an attorney but was Creedy’s client at the time, asked Creedy to join him because attorneys automatically get paid fees for any award, even though an advocate does not need to be an attorney to represent a claimant.
According to the state Supreme Court’s per curiam decision, when the pair were working together, Murphy received advance fees from clients, which is illegal. Creedy claimed he did not know that was a violation and did not find out until another attorney alerted him in March 2010. When he found out, he refunded the money to the client.
Meanwhile, law enforcement in Green County started to investigate Murphy, and Creedy met with them to provide information, according to the complaint. Murphy was convicted in Shebyogan and Dane counties of six counts of theft by false representation and bail jumping. He was given jail time, but the state Department of Corrections’ website lists him as on community supervision. He was also convicted of theft in Iowa.
Initially, the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed an eight-county complaint against Creedy and sought a four-month suspension. But three counts were dismissed, and a referee found that there was not enough evidence to support two other counts. Creedy agreed to plead no contest to three counts of misconduct, and the OLR and Creedy subsequently recommended a public reprimand; the referee did not object.
“The referee observed that there was no evidence that any member of the public, other than perhaps Murphy, was harmed by Attorney Creedy’s conduct, and characterized any harm to Murphy as de minimus and the proven ethical violations as technical,” according to the decision.
In addition to the public reprimand, the court ordered Creedy to pay $8,900.82 — half the costs of the proceeding.
Creedy graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1980. He has no disciplinary history.
Reached Tuesday, Creedy pointed to the Supreme Court’s decision that made mention of his violations being technical, and that no clients were harmed.
“If you compare it to other cases, mine is fairly low on the totem pole in harm,” Creedy said.
American Disability Entitlements was dissolved in 2012 after the owner was convicted of theft, according to state records.