Loudoun’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office experienced significant staff turnover since Buta Biberaj took office as the chief prosecutor a year ago. Two weeks ago, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Bruce A. Johnson, Jr. became the latest to leave the office. He is under scrutiny by the DC Bar.
According to an automatic reply from Johnson’s email address, he is “no longer with” the office, as of Jan. 6. The automatic reply was signed by Biberaj, who has yet to respond to comment on Johnson’s departure.
As Johnson leaves his Loudoun post, the DC Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel is conducting an investigation into allegations that he mismanaged his former clients’ money. Those complaints stem from incidents in 2015 and 2017 when Johnson was working at a private law firm practicing in Maryland and DC.
On Friday, the DC Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility Hearing Committee held a fourth day of hearings via a Zoom call. During that hearing, the Counsel heard testimony from a client, Barnedia Drayton, claiming Johnson did not provide her with a written agreement stating the basis for his $10,000 fee, the scope of his representation, nor how he planned to handle the fees she paid him. Drayton also claimed that Johnson asked for another $10,000 to appeal the court’s decision and that Johnson’s office requested $200 to return her files.
Another complaint came from a client who claimed Johnson did not provide her with fee agreements, invoices reflecting the time he spent on her case, records reflecting the time he spent on her case or information on what he did with the more-than $10,000 she paid him in 2015. The client also claimed Johnson requested another $16,000 to represent her company in trial.
A third claim against Johnson came straight from DC Bar Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton P. Fox III, who asserted that Johnson mismanaged his clients’ funds when his client trust account was drained to a balance of less than $10 in November 2018, at a time when the account was supposed to hold advance fees and other funds from Johnson’s clients.
According to the specification of charges, Johnson “engaged in conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice.”
Johnson’s disciplinary hearing with the DC Bar will resume Feb. 2-4.