Note from The Home Press: We hope our viewers take into consideration why we chose to run this piece. There have been several inquiries made by persons of the public regarding this matter. Most recently, St. Louis Record released an article regarding the topic in which we are about to report on highlighting that Winkie was found in violation sixteen times of misconduct, but the article lacked any statement from Mr. Winkie. We believed in coming out with all the information that we have, including asking and ultimately receiving a statement from Mr. Winkie. For its entirety, we encourage our viewers to visit the legal documents linked at the end of this article.

“The purpose of a disciplinary proceeding is not to punish the attorney, but to protect the public and maintain the integrity of the legal profession (re. Staab, 719 S.W.2d 780, 784 (Mo. banc 1986) Those twin purposes may be achieved both directly, by removing a person from the practice of law, and indirectly, by imposing a sanction which serves to deter other members of the Bar from engaging in similar conduct. (re Kazanas, 96 S.W.3d 803, 807-08 (Mo. banc 2003)” - Chief Disciplinary Counsel {Informant’s Brief}

(MACON, MISSOURI) Richard Winkie of Winkie Law Firm in Macon, has been disbarred as a practicing attorney in the State of Missouri after being found guilty of professional misconduct - pertaining to financial issues. “It is ordered by this Court that Respondent Richard L. Winkie is hereby disbarred, that his right and license to practice law in the State of Missouri is canceled and that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys in this State,” stated a court order dated November 20th, 2018 from the Missouri Supreme Court.

The decision by Missouri’s highest court comes after several former clients of Mr. Winkie, formally issued a complaint to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel that investigates conduct of Missouri’s Lawyers. After a completed investigation, finding numerous violations of misconduct, the Disciplinary Counsel formally offered a informant’s brief in writing and testified in person to the Missouri Supreme Court recommending the disbandment of Richard Winkie. Several findings of the investigation stated in the brief, included theft of funds from clients, the usage of client funds for personal expenditures, and deceiving his clients (defined as Financial Embezzlement and Financial Fraud). ”This Court does find that Respondent, Richard L. Winkie, violated Rules 4-1.3, 4-1.4(a), 4-1.15(a), 4-1.15(a)(4), 4-1.15(c), 4-1.15(d), 4-1.15(f), and 4-8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct,” stated the Missouri Supreme Court Order.

In January of 2015, two couples who were selling a jointly-owned piece of land hired Winkie to assist them in finishing of the process in selling the piece of land. The land for sale, would be sold for $14,406.75 in which Winkie would deposit the funds into the client trust account that he had with both parties. Starting in March of 2015, a series of transactions took place for the next several months in which the entire amount of $14,406.75 would be transferred to a personal operating account by Winkie. Winkie’s operating account reflected payments between March and July including payments to Walmart, the IRS, Credit Card Companies, payroll checks, restaurants, and supermarkets. After Winkie’s clients contacted him inquiring about their money, Winkie repeatedly deceived and lied to his clients by telling them that their funds were held up by the title company. Supreme Court Rule 4-1.4 states that a lawyer should promptly and timely, respond to reasonable requests made by their clients and provide information to the client. In April of 2015, Winkie withdrew over $12,000 dollars of his clients’ money and took the funds to China; knowing those funds were not his. In June of 2015, Winkie’s clients once again, made efforts in contacting Winkie about their funds; email correspondence shows that Winkie told his clients that he had a leg injury, was swamped with work, and that he would make every effort in getting them into his office to finish closing everything out. In October of 2015, again, Winkie’s clients not having received their money, attempted to contact Winkie but received no response. One month later, Winkie told his clients that he would have the money in the mail, but failed to send the funds. In December of 2015, Winkie’s Clients set up a meeting with Winkie, but were informed two hours before the scheduled meeting by Winkie, that he had re-injured his leg and wouldn’t be able to make it. A week after the originally scheduled meeting, his clients waited 2.5 hours in Winkie’s office before meeting with him in which Winkie finally informed his clients that he no longer had their money. Five months after December of 2015, Winkie’s Clients once again, attempted to make contact about their funds, but did not receive a response. On July 8th, 2016 Winkie’s Clients formally complained to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (OCDC). Winkie responded to the OCDC by telling them that he would start formal written correspondence with his clients, in which he would not. In September of 2016, the clients initiated formal proceedings and hearings with the The Missouri Bar’s Fee Dispute Resolution Committee in an attempt to recover their money. Finally, in December of 2016, Winkie repaid the proper funds to his clients.

In another case, with an entirely different clientele than that of above, one client hired Winkie in a breach of contract action. Winkie’s client was in the process of building a cabin when the builder abandoned the project resulting in $30,000 worth of damage. After the opposing party (builder) failed to appear in court, Winkie’s client received a default judgement in the amount of $23,850.00 with 9% interest. Winkie’s client had a loan on his property in which he had plans on using his judgment money to repay his loan. Winkie and his client agreed to depositing all funds received from the judgement to the client’s newly opened personally bank account. Winkie applied for a 180 day garnishment where he would fail to promptly deposit money to his client’s bank account. His client repeatedly attempted to make contact with Winkie regarding his funds, in which Winkie never responded. Winkie then applied for another 180 day garnishment after the first one expired, again, failing to promptly deposit his client’s funds, to their bank account. Sometimes withholding checks for over three months. In February of 2015, Winkie failed to apply for another 180 day garnishment, keeping his client from collecting his funds from the judgment for over eight months. Winkie’s client learned that Winkie had withheld over $1,000 from him and had yet to be deposited. Winkie’s client then took out a loan to cover for his property loan which he had plans on repaying with his funds from his judgement, but could not after Winkie failed to deposit funds into the client’s bank account. Winkie’s client would hire another attorney to help him successfully received his judgment funds. After complaining to the OCDC about the incident, Winkie acknowledged that his client was indue of refund but failed to promptly do so. Winkie’s former client contacted him several times, but did not receive a response from Winkie. In January of 2017, Winkie’s former client filed a smalls claim case against Winkie in which the case would ultimately be settled after Winkie paying his former client.

Besides those two incidents outlined above, stated in the Informant’s Brief, the OCDC through an investigation, discovered numerous instances where Winkie mismanaged his client trust account, including receiving and transferring money to his wife, paying for personal items at Walmart and Sam’s Club, babysitters, office purchases, mortgage payments, on numerous occasions overdrawing his client trust account and holding client funds in his operating account. In May 2015, Winkie received $2,000 into his client trust account from his wife and from September 2015 until January 2016, Winkie wrote over $2,400 in checks to his wife from his client trust account. Winkie also revealed to the OCDC four other cases of mismanaging his trust account while handling money entrusted to him by his clients. Winkie stated, “my trust account records are a disgrace. I don’t know the first thing about how to do any of that.” Between 2010-2011, the OCDC offered Winkie to attend a seminar on trust account maintenance, but Winkie declined. Winkie and his mismanagement of client funds and his client trust account, made him violative of Supreme Court Rule 4-1.5 which deals with the “Safekeeping of Property.”

After the OCDC referred all evidence to the Missouri Supreme Court with a formal recommendation of disciplinary actions such as being disbarred, Richard Winkie issued a brief refuting the formal recommendation asking for probation instead, while acknowledging and admitting to all the violations laid out in the OCDC brief. Winkie backed up his request with several letters from individuals vouching for his character and that Winkie up to this moment, has never been disciplined. In the brief, Winkie also said that with the lack of knowledge he had on trust account maintenance, that he was unaware of his violations. Winkie also stated that he did not cause harm to his clients and ultimately paid back the funds of his clients’ that he temporarily borrowed. The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel issued a brief, pushing back at Winkie’s recommendation of probation, stating that Winkie should be disbarred because he fails to recognize the severity of his misconduct which makes him a “threat to the public and the integrity of the legal profession.” The OCDC backed up their position by saying that Winkie was fully aware that he took his clients’ money and used it for personal expenditures and that within Winkie’s brief, he provides no confidence that he will not resume his actions if and when, he were to ever get off of probation. The OCDC also stated that Winkie’s actions caused his clients additional legal fees and more time trying to retrieve their money that Winkie had taken. The OCDC pointed to the Florida Supreme Court in which that court stated, “‘misuse of clients’ funds is one of the most serious offenses a lawyer can commit’ and…in the future, we would not be reluctant to disbar attorneys guilty of misappropriation even if no harm to the client results.”

The Missouri Supreme Court sided with the recommendation by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel in a Court Order issued November 20th, 2018, being the disbarment of Attorney Richard Winkie.

We reached out to Mr. Winkie and asked him to answer several questions, those questions and answers being:

Statement as to what he makes of the entire situation:

“I strongly disagree with the outcome. The major issues complained of were resolved some time ago by everyone involved, and changes were made to correct for problems identified with regard to proper trust account maintenance. Between law school and time practicing in Kansas City, I have dedicated fourteen years of my life to this career path and find it to be astonishing that is being brought to a close like this,” stated Winkie.

2. Messages to former clients:

“I appreciate that my clientele has trusted me to handle their delicate legal matters for these past many years. It was an honor to help my clients out of their various predicaments and I found the challenges that arose in so doing to be exciting and normally shared with my clients the emotions of the results. Thank you for your patronage over these past years. Current clients will be hearing from me in the coming days to discuss their situations,” stated Winkie.

3. What are your plans now?

“My family and I are still processing all this and we ask that everyone respect our privacy at this time. This is a personal tragedy, and does not deserve salacious public discourse. I am looking for other employment, with the intention of tying together my various degrees and employment history,” stated Winkie.


For the St. Louis Record legal publication, visit: https://stlrecord.com/stories/511641855-macon-attorney-disbarred-after-mishandling-trust-account-and-other-allegations

For the Supreme Court Order, visit: https://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=133520&fbclid=IwAR2_l-OTqDQ6Q1wdi5MxXoT0fEAJhrmB2ej6dyOJKsY06_goQ1VdzN4b99M

For the Chief Disciplinary Counsel Informant’s Brief, visit: https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=130637

For Richard Winkie’s Brief, visit: https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=131453

For the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Reply Brief, visit: https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=131953