It could have been a lot worse for G. Paul Howes.
The former federal prosecutor who targeted violent drug dealers and gang bangers in Washington, D.C. was disbarred in 2012 from the practice of law in the nation's capital for improperly dispersing $42,000 in witness vouchers during his time at the U.S. Attorney's office from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, and Howes could have faced a similar fate in California where he was admitted to practice in 1997 and worked as a plaintiff's lawyer at what was then Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach in San Diego.
However, the California state bar has taken pity upon Howes, and citing his good works "finds no basis for recommending that [Howes] be disbarred in this state as a result of his misconduct two decades ago in the District of Columbia," although it does recommend a three-year suspension "to make clear to all the impropriety of that conduct and to protect the public's faith in the criminal justice system, both here and throughout the country" according to a press release.
When the District of Columbia's highest court disbarred Howes it was the "first time in at least a decade that judges anywhere in the United States have disbarred a federal prosecutor for misconduct in a criminal case" as then reported by Brad Heath for USA Today:
The vouchers are supposed to be used to reimburse witnesses for costs associated with testifying in court, but Howes authorized payments to relatives and girlfriends of informants, an internal Justice Department investigation found.As a result of those violations, the court said, the Justice Department agreed to reduce prison sentences for nine convicted felons, including seven murderers.
Howes resigned from the plaintiff's firm following his D.C. disbarment, and these days apparently investigates asbestos cases for a Texas firm.
Further reading that may be of interest: