Harrisburg-area attorney disbarred
A Harrisburg-area lawyer accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from the law firm where she worked has been disbarred, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania said Tuesday.
The lawyer, Nichole Collins, 35, was charged earlier this year with forgery, access device fraud, burglary, theft by unlawful taking and other related charges after she allegedly stole money from Shaffer & Engle Law Firm in Lower Paxton Township.
Collins was arrested Jan. 23 for allegedly breaking into the firm after she was fired in August, according to Dauphin County Court records.
Collins worked as an associate at Shaffer & Engle from June 2014 to September 2017, according to documents filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court.
Between June 2017 and August 2017, Collins allegedly wrote several checks from a firm account to obtain cash for her personal use. In total, Collins is accused by Shaffer & Engle of taking more than $9,906.68 from the account over a one-and-one-half-month period, the documents said.
Further, from June 2015 to July 2017, Collins allegedly overstated amounts received on her commission sheets and double-billed for client services. Her alleged overstatements and over-billing cost Shaffer & Engle approximately $97,000, according to the documents.
Additionally, the firm reported to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel that at various points throughout her employment, Collins made "side-deals" with the firm’s clients which resulted in a $90,000 loss to the firm in accounts receivable, according to the documents.
In November, the Attorney General’s office assumed jurisdiction over the investigation due to a conflict of interest, according to the Office of Attorney General. Collins is married to Dauphin County Deputy District Attorney Joel Hogentogler.
On Jan. 25, Collins was placed on temporary suspension by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
In her February resignation filing, filed with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Collins indicated that the accusations set forth by Shaffer & Engle are true.
As of November 2017, Collins had remitted almost $12,000 to Shafer & Engle, according to court documents. Representatives from Shaffer & Engle were not immediately available for comment.
Collins was admitted to the bar in 2010. She is represented by Hershey-based attorney Bryan S. Walk.
"It’s still way early in the process, and I don't want to comment until we see what’s going on,” he said, declining to comment further.