The N.C. State Bar plans to review two complaints that former City Council candidate and recently appointed Planning Commission member Darius Little misrepresented himself as an attorney.
The bar's Authorized Practice Committee plans to review the information Wednesday and decide what action, if any, to take, said David Johnson, deputy counsel for the bar.
Its action could range from telling Little to stop the practice to referring the complaints to the local district attorney for prosecution, Johnson said.
The Durham County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 Monday to appoint Little to represent Oak Grove/Carr Township on the Planning Commission. He also serves on the Durham Youth Commission.
County Commissioners Chairman Michael Page, Joe Bowser and Brenda Howerton voted in favor of Little's appointment to the Planning Commission. Page said he had not heard of the allegations before the vote.
Vice Chairwoman Ellen Reckhow and Becky Heron voted for Antonio Jones, a laid-off retail worker and a full-time student at N.C. Central University.
According to the complaints, Little misrepresented himself as an attorney and took fees to provide legal services with no results. A third person who didn't file a complaint with the bar said he had a similar experience with Little.
Only licensed attorneys may provide legal services or prepare or help prepare legal documents for another person, according to state law.
Little, 30, said he is close to completing his bachelor's degree at University of Phoenix in Raleigh and wants to be an attorney one day. He said the two complainants sought him out for mediation and consulting work while he was running for City Council last year.
At times wiping tears from his eyes, Little said he never said he was an attorney but may have unknowingly entered "a gray area" working for his mediation and consultant business.
"I promise to be very careful in the future and now that I have your rules and regulations, completely understand what is inside the scope of 'lawyer only' practice and what is open for others," Little wrote in response to the bar.
In an interview, Savanna Berkley Wells said she paid Little to file a restraining order against family members, and divorce, child support, and other legal papers, but never saw evidence of the work.
Little said Wells retained him as a business consultant and that he made it clear he was not an attorney. He said Wells tried to extort money from him when he discovered she wasn't telling the truth about her legal situation.
Little has felony convictions in Wake, Durham and Orange counties for obtaining property or services by false pretenses and obstructing justice. The convictions relate to checks he said he bounced when he fell on hard times while attending UNC.
Little said his criminal history made him vulnerable to such threats.
Wells said she didn't know about his criminal record and never asked him for money.
Richard Carew, 62, said a Durham County librarian recommended Little after Carew asked for help finding an attorney on the Internet. Carew said he paid Little about $750 to file a lawsuit against Duke Hospital because he felt he was improperly detained and given medicine.
Carew, who said he uses a wheelchair, said Little showed him documents that indicated he was negotiating for a $750,000 settlement from Duke. Carew said when he went to find out how to pick up the check, Duke officials said they had never heard of Little.
Little said he drew up those documents at Carew's insistence. Little also provided numerous pages that indicated Carew had sought money from Duke and John Umstead Hospital starting in 2007.
A third person, Wister Coleman, said that Little also misrepresented himself and pretended to negotiate with a Greenville hospital for a settlement in response to some concerns Coleman's family had about the care and death of his mother.
Coleman, a 51-year-old senior parole agent for the Illinois Department of Corrections, said he promised not to file charges if Little paid him back the fees he was paid to negotiate a settlement with Pitt County Memorial Hospital.
Coleman said he got suspicious when Little called him Christmas Eve and demanded $400, in addition to the $1,000 he had already paid, to put documents together for a pending presentation.
Coleman said he ended up paying Little a total of $1,500, and was told that that the hospital was making offers to settle for up to $650,000. Little told Coleman he was sending Coleman papers to sign to get the money, Coleman said. When the papers never arrived, Coleman said he called the hospital and officials said they had never heard of Little.
The hospital declined to comment. Little said Coleman misunderstood the situation and spoke to the wrong person at the hospital. But Little said he did return the $1,500 and pulled out of the case when he realized he was "over his head."