The Law Society of B.C. has ordered Vernon lawyer William Jacob Mastop be disbarred.
Mastop pleaded guilty in December 2012, in B.C. Supreme Court, to participating in or contributing to the activity of a group police called The Greeks, a known criminal organization, for the purpose of enhancing the ability of the organization to facilitate or commit an indictable offence.
Independent of the criminal proceedings, the law society conducted its own assessment of Mastop’s conduct and ultimately the society’s board of governors (Benchers) relied on Law Society Rule 4-40 to conclude the matter using a summary process. Rule 4-40 is only used in exceptional circumstances.
It forgoes the need for a citation and citation hearing, allowing the Benchers to summarily suspend or disbar a lawyer who has been convicted of an offence that was proceeded with by way of indictment.
In its decision, the panel noted: “We think it is important to apply a sanction that will be effective in deterring other lawyers who will need to resist requests from clients for illegal assistance. In order to maintain public confidence in the legal profession, there should be no possibility of doubt that the law society takes such conduct with the utmost seriousness, and the profession needs to know that as well.”
Mastop was originally sentenced to one year in prison but that was extended to two-and-a-half years in November, after the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge erred by focusing on the lack of evidence of direct consequences stemming from Mastop’s actions, rather than focusing on his intention and the “egregious nature of his actions.”
After being charged with the offence in 2009, Mastop was released on bail with one of the conditions being that he not practice law, which he has not done since.