Legal

The law firm of Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir, in Upland, is dissolving after roughly 20 years of representing area police officers and sheriff’s deputies in litigation matters.

By Joe Nelson, San Bernardino Sun
Posted: 09/20/13, 8:43 PM PDT |

An Upland law firm that grew in the past 16 years to be one of the biggest in Southern California representing police unions is dissolving amid allegations of fraudulent billing practices, officials said.

In a letter dated Sept. 10, Ron Cottingham, president of the Sacramento-based law enforcement political lobbying group Police Officers Research Association (PORAC), informed members of its legal defense fund that the firm Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir had been removed from its panel of approved providers in the wake of the misconduct allegations.

“Recently the Legal Defense Board of Trustees found that the former panel law firm Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir has committed serious acts of misconduct regarding their billing practices,” Cottingham said in his letter. “As a result, (Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir) has been removed from the (Legal Defense Fund) panel of approved providers.”

Founded in 1997 by retired Riverside County sheriff’s deputy Michael Lackie and reserve San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy Dieter Dammeier, the firm Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir represented dozens of police unions in San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties. Their clients include the San Bernardino, Rialto and Ontario police officer associations, the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association, and the Torrance and Riverside police officers associations, to name a few. The slogan “Former Cops Defending Current Ones” is emblazoned across the top of the firm’s website.

Auditors for the PORAC Legal Defense Fund singled out three of the firm’s 13 attorneys: Saku Ethir, a partner at the firm for the last two years, Peter Horton, and Kasey Sirody. The three were accused of overbilling the Legal Defense Fund and submitting invoices for trips that were never taken, according to Cottingham’s letter.

Cottingham’s letter went into specifics regarding some of the allegations, including:

•Ethir submitted in 2012 invoices claiming to have billed 4,275 hours, more than twice the average of annual billable hours for a full-time legal defense fund panel attorney.

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