The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has overturned the reinstatement of a law license for a Saco lawyer convicted of laundering drug money and accused of pressuring one of his clients into sex.
On Thursday, the court found that Gary Prolman failed to provide evidence that he complied with conditions of his 2019 suspension, including counseling. A previous decision to reinstate his law license from a lower court was also found by the court to have not determined he could avoid inappropriate conduct in the future.
Prolman, who was admitted to Maine’s bar in 1991, was indefinitely suspended from practicing law in Maine in June 2014 after being convicted of laundering nearly $200,000 in proceeds from marijuana sales primarily sold by one of his clients.
However, in February 2016, former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Donald G. Alexander ended the suspension, reinstating Prolman’s license to practice law.
But Alexander suspended him again for six months in May 2017 after the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar alleged improper conduct with a female client. That sentence was later vacated after the Supreme Court found that the sanctions for the allegations were “simply insufficient.”
In that circumstance, Prolman had arranged for a client leaving an abusive relationship to live with him in his apartment, misleading the client’s diversion officer about where the client would be living, according to Overseers of the Bar documents.
He had told the client’s diversion officer his client would be housed in a vacant apartment above his law office. That wasn’t exactly true. The accommodations included many shared spaces with Prolman, including use of a bathroom located next to his bedroom.
In addition, Prolman allegedly sought out sexual acts from his client that she called “gross” and said she did not consent to. She eventually moved out and terminated their attorney-client relationship, according to documents.
Prolman denied having a sexual relationship with the client during his 2017 suspension hearing.
In July 2019, he was served with a new suspension of two years for that client relationship and was ordered to receive counseling regarding boundaries and take ethics training with an emphasis on attorney-client relationships.
Two years later, Prolman got his law license back. Maine District Court Judge E. Mary Kelly reinstated the license with conditions, including monitoring of his practice and restrictions on his relationships with current and former clients, in July 2021.
That decision received vehement opposition from the board, who accused Prolman of misrepresenting himself to the court by submitting a letter of support from a former client.
In the most recent decision by the Maine Supreme Court, it was found that while Kelly confirmed Prolman had undergone boundary counseling before his 2019 suspension, she had not confirmed the counseling required after the 2019 suspension.
In addition, while Kelly had determined that Prolman recognized that his past actions were wrong, as was required by the board rules for reinstatement, she had not determined he was “capable of identifying similar conduct as wrongful in the future” if he was to practice law, the Maine Supreme Court ruling said.
That standard for reinstatement had been determined by the court in a 2014 case in which former O.J. Simpson attorney F. Lee Bailey was denied a law license by the board after misconduct.
Bailey’s denial was upheld by the Maine Supreme Court, who ruled that the lawyer didn’t recognize the wrongfulness or seriousness of past misconduct, including refusing to give the federal government stocks and money given to him by a client who acquired them by illegally selling marijuana.
The court remanded Prolman’s case back to Kelly, who will now determine if there is “good and sufficient reason” to reinstate his law license despite him not complying with suspension conditions. She also must determine if the Saco attorney is capable of identifying misconduct similar to his past actions in the future.