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Van Buren Attorney Denies Allegations of Wrongdoing for High Fees

2 min read

Van Buren attorney Gentry C. Wahlmeier denied wrongdoing in charging two developmentally disabled Arkansans nearly $200,000 for basic work that should have taken at most a few hours.

As we reported in a June 12 cover story, Wahlmeier and his namesake law firm were accused in a Crawford County Circuit Court lawsuit of charging “unconscionable” fees to siblings Larry Boatright and Loreva Boatright, both of Alma, for his work in creating two supplemental needs trusts for them.

Wahlmeier denied the allegations of wrongdoing and is asking for a jury trial, according to the answer filed July 18.

“Wahlmeier affirmatively states the fee was for various legal tasks performed for the Boatrights and for Brian Steffen,” the filing said. Steffen isn’t a plaintiff in the lawsuit, and is the stepson of the Boatrights’ sister, Barbara Steffen, who funded the trust.

“Wahlmeier affirmatively pleads that no misrepresentation was made to Plaintiffs,” the filing said.

He asked that the case be dismissed. Wahlmeier and his firm are represented by attorneys L. Kyle Heffley and Sarah J. Heffley of Kutak Rock in Rogers. L. Kyle Heffley didn’t return a message for comment.

The Boatrights’ suit also named their trustee, Citizens Bank & Trust Co. of Van Buren, as a defendant. Wahlmeier insisted that Citizens Bank serve as trustee, the lawsuit says, accusing it of allowing nearly $200,000 of a $700,000 trust to be paid to Wahlmeier.

The bank also received an “excessive” administration fee of $26,483 from the trust, the siblings’ attorney, Matthew R. House of James House Swann & Downing of Little Rock, said in the lawsuit. The Citizens Bank & Trust also filed its answer and denied all allegations of wrongdoing. It also said that “it has not breached any legal duty owed to plaintiff,” according to the filing by its attorney, Stephen Lancaster of Wright Lindsey Jennings of Little Rock.

It asked that the case be dismissed.

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