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SPECIAL REPORT: Accusations of betrayal

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Kevin Dycus says attorney Andy Allman betrayed him by keeping $108,000 for himself rather than put the money into a trust for Dycus’ son. SUBMITTED
Brenda and Roger Sevigney filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Responsibility against Andy Allman in June 2016 alleging the attorney did little work for the $4,500 retainer they paid him.
Andy Allman
Baylor Bramble, (center) who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2015, recently attended his high school graduation with his mother Christy (left) and aunt Cathy Brown of Hendersonville. Brown has pressed criminal charges against attorney Andy Allman, alleging he stole money earmarked for Baylor's care. SUBMITTED

Following the release earlier this month of 54 more complaints against Hendersonville attorney Andy Allman, the Board of Professional Responsibility will ask that Allman be disbarred, according to Sandy Garrett, the board's chief disciplinary counsel.

The recent complaints, outlined in a fourth petition for discipline, bring the total number of verified complaints of unethical conduct and, in some cases the misappropriation of funds, to 74. Allman, 49, was temporarily suspended by the Board Sept. 9.

The attorney also faces several civil lawsuits, a criminal charge of theft in Davidson County and remains under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau Investigation for possible criminal charges in Sumner County.

However, many of Allman's alleged victims say they believe not enough has been done to hold accountable the attorney they say has wreaked havoc on hundreds of lives over a period of several years.

'A smooth talker'

A high school classmate of Allman's, Cathy Brown knew the boyish looking attorney for years before reaching out to him in late 2015. The two even attended the same Sunday School class together. When Brown's father passed away in December of that year, she messaged Allman on Facebook asking if he could probate her dad's will. She paid him $1,500 and found him to be responsive - at first.

"I had never had anybody pass away before, so I didn't know what the normal procedures were," said Brown.

In June of 2016, on the morning of her probate appointment she received a call from Allman's secretary who told her he had been called out of town unexpectedly. She saw on Facebook that Allman was on a cruise in Alaska. "That's not unplanned," said Brown.

It took six more weeks to get back on the court docket and when they did, Allman didn't have the proper paperwork.

In the meantime, Brown's sister was trying to get her son Baylor into a brain injury rehab center. Baylor suffered a traumatic brain injury in October 2015 while playing football at Siegel High School.

"Their insurance wouldn't pay and we wanted to sell our father's house so he could go to that hospital," said Brown.

Their father's East Nashville home sold the same day it was listed. Brown says Allman told her to sign over the check - roughly $230,000 - to him and he would put it in a trust account until probate was finished.

Brown says she learned of Allman's suspension in early September from a news report. When she went to his office, she learned he was at a boat show in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

After a month of being told he would pay her, Allman finally gave her a check that bounced.

"He's such a smooth talker I believed him. I really did," she said.

Brown then contacted the Davidson County district attorney's office and filed a criminal complaint against him. That case is pending in Davidson County Criminal Court. Allman has pleaded not guilty. Attempts to reach Allman have been unsuccessful.

High-profile Nashville attorney David Raybin confirmed he's representing Allman in the criminal case in Davidson County.

"I've entered a not-guilty plea and we are engaging in reciprocal discovery exchanging documents as the law requires," said Raybin, adding he's not representing Allman in any other matters.

BPR rules prohibit Allman from making any public statements about the complaints, Raybin noted.

Brown filed a complaint against Allman with the Board of Professional Responsibility in November.

"It's just been a nightmare, the whole thing. He knew this money was for Baylor," she said. "He just acted like he cared - and then took his money. I thought Andy was a nice guy."

Brown started looking at the other complaints that had been filed in support of Allman's suspension and found that 18 complaints had been filed before she hired Allman in December 2015. The earliest complaint dated back to Dec. 23, 2014.

"The board should have stopped him," she says. "Once you have five or six complaints, and you see a pattern then they should have done something."

A seemingly straightforward procedure

Like Brown, Hendersonville resident Kevin Dycus graduated from high school with Allman.

When his ex-wife committed suicide, Dycus wanted the insurance money earmarked for their son to go into a trust for the boy until he turned 18.

Dycus says he endorsed the insurance check for $108,000 over to Allman in 2015 and has yet to see that money.

"It seemed like a straightforward procedure," said Dycus. "The check was written, I just needed a court order stating that [my son] couldn't touch [the money] until he turned 25."

Yet there were delays.

Dycus says he finally had an Edward Jones representative call Allman. When the representative googled Allman's address, they found out he had been temporarily suspended from practicing law - something Dycus says he was never notified of.

He says he has since filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Responsibility and notified law enforcement authorities.

"It's been a long struggle to get this resolved," he said. "This is basically the only thing [my ex-wife] would've left for my son."

Dycus said he had no reason not to trust Allman, who appeared to be a successful attorney.

"I thought there's no way he would touch this money," he said. "I had no reason to believe he needed it.

"It's just been shocking."

Sumner County District Attorney General Ray Whitley confirmed Tuesday that both the TBI and his office have spoken with Dycus.

"He's one of many people we've talked to," said Whitley who declined to comment further on the investigation.

Former client: More oversight is needed

Hendersonville resident Brenda Sevigny hired Allman to represent her in a dispute with her employer in October 2014. Her husband Roger says the couple borrowed the $4,500 retainer fee required by Allman who promptly deposited the money into his operating account rather than a trust account.

Allman filed suit in U.S. District Court in December, 2014 on Brenda Sevigny's behalf but opposing counsel had difficulty reaching Allman who also failed to communicate with the couple, they say.

Sevigny says the couple spent a year-and-a-half trying to get information about the case from Allman who even at one point lost part of their file. They fired him in May 2016 and demanded their retainer fee. Allman never responded.

Sevigny filed a complaint with the BPR on June 2, 2016 alleging unethical conduct by Allman. He says he doesn't understand why it took so long for Allman to lose his law license - and even then it's only temporary.

"I was disgusted and still am that a professional can do that much damage with the Board of Professional Responsibility taking so long to do anything," said Sevigny. "It's inexcusable. There's oversight that needs to be done in that profession. They know you're vulnerable and they know you don't understand the law."

When asked why it took the Board so long to temporarily suspend Allman, Garrett said the attorney was at first responsive to the initial complaints filed against him - the majority of which appeared to be fee disputes.

"Initially we didn't think we had grounds," she said.

The board can only discipline an attorney for not responding, or for misappropriating funds or if the board thinks they pose substantial harm, Garrett added.

"The board found the complaints are appropriate to charge with misconduct but a hearing panel will determine the merits of the complaints," Garrett said, adding Allman will be tried in front of a hearing panel of three attorneys appointed by the Supreme Court.

A hearing date hasn't been set.

Citing confidentiality, Garrett couldn't say if the board is looking into other complaints.

She said the number of complaints against Allman are not typical.

"We will be asking that he is disbarred - that coupled with restitution," Garrett added.

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