Crime & Courts

South Carolina State Representative Accused Of Legal Malpractice

Marvin Pendarvis accused of fraud, forgery, attempted bribery …

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South Carolina state representative Marvin Pendarvis is facing allegations of legal malpractice based on claims made against him in a lawsuit filed in Charleston County this week.

Pendarvis, 34, of North Charleston, S.C. is a prominent Lowcountry attorney. He was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 2017 and has represented House District 113 ever since.

The lawsuit against him was filed on Thursday (April 11, 2024) by Lexington, S.C.-based attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter on behalf of Adrian Lewis of Charleston. According to the complaint (.pdf), Pendarvis settled a previous lawsuit filed on Lewis’ behalf for wrongful arrest without the knowledge or consent of his client.

The initial lawsuit (.pdf) was filed on November 10, 2021 by Pendarvis after his client was “unlawfully arrested” on July 3, 2021 by the Dorchester County sheriff’s office. According to the filing, Lewis had taken his daughter and fiancée on vacation to the Isle of Palms. The girl’s mother – jealous of the new relationship – accused Lewis of kidnapping the child. When informed by the sheriff’s office of the allegations, Lewis immediately returned home with his daughter and was arrested by police upon his arrival without any questions regarding the legal custody of the child.

Because there was no court order granting custody of the child to her mother, Lewis’ arrest was unlawful.

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Upon retaining Pendarvis to represent him in his lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, Lewis was told his case was worth “up to $325,000” – an amount greater than the statutory cap of $300,000 per person, per single occurrence under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act.

Following an unsuccessful mediation on April 24, 2023, Pendarvis told his client the case had been scheduled for trial in Dorchester County in November 2023. After that conversation, Lewis claimed he repeatedly called Pendarvis to get updates regarding the case and was effectively “ghosted” by his attorney.

According to the lawsuit, the few times Lewis was able to get Pendarvis on the phone he was provided with “misleading information about the status of his case.”

Purportedly feeling pressured by his client, Pendarvis issued a $5,000 check to Lewis from his firm’s Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA) with a note that it was for a “disbursement.” There was no explanation other than the assurance “that (Lewis) had a lot more money coming,” per the pleading.

(Click to View)

State representative Marvin Pendarvis (Instagram)

Lewis continued to ask when his trial would be scheduled throughout the following months and on March 15, 2024, Pendarvis issued a second check from the IOLTA account for $1,666.67. Once again, he assured his client he had a lot more money coming, according to the complaint.

Frustrated by the lack of communication, Lewis finally contacted the attorney for Dorchester County to inquire about the status of the case but was told no information could be provided so long as he was represented by an attorney. At this point, Lewis fired Pendarvis and contacted the attorney again on March 27, 2024.

Following this exchange, the attorney emailed him a notarized and verified “full and final release” dated January 4, 2024. According to the complaint, this was the first time Lewis became aware his case had settled — without his knowledge or consent — for $10,000.

According to the lawsuit against Pendarvis, the notarized signature of Lewis was forged on the settlement document. Moreover, the amount of money Pendarvis had provided him from the firm’s IOLTA accounts was exactly 66 percent of that settlement per their retainer agreement.

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(S.C. Ninth Judicial Circuit)

Completely shocked at the news that his case had settled, Lewis called and texted his attorney on March 27, 2024 seeking an explanation as to what occurred.

The text exchanges attached in the filing are incredibly revealing – and potentially damning for Pendarvis and his future as a lawyer. After Lewis informed Pendarvis he was planning to sue him, Pendarvis responded, “How much you need the check for?”

“Answer the question man,” Pendarvis added. “How much?”

“Let’s handle this shit,” Pendarvis wrote in another message. “You’re not telling me what you need.”

“I’ve always come (through) for you on anything you need man,” Pendarvis continued. “Let’s handle this shit. No need to try and hurt me man. I can help you. Please brother.”

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(S.C. Ninth Judicial Circuit)

On April 2, 2024 at 8:30 a.m. EDT, Pendarvis allegedly showed up at the home of his client and told him he had $50,000 “in cash” in a black bag he could give him right then and there. He added he could give him another $25,000 and would write him a check to pay his mortgage – all if Lewis would agree not sue Pendarvis, according to the complaint.

Lewis refused.

On April 4, 2024, Pendarvis met Lewis at a pet supply store on Dorchester Road and handed him a $15,000 check post-dated April 9, 2024. According to the lawsuit, the check was ostensibly post-dated to ensure Pendarvis had enough money in his IOLTA account to cover it.

“Adrian Lewis’s case is emblematic of the trust individuals place in their legal representatives and the devastating consequences when that trust is betrayed,” Richter said in a statement. “We are committed to holding accountable those who violate the fundamental principles of legal ethics and professional responsibility.”

“This case underscores the importance of upholding the highest standards of integrity and accountability within the legal profession,” Bland added. “Our firm remains dedicated to ensuring that justice prevails, no matter who is involved.”

Our media outlet has reached out to Pendarvis for comment. In the event we receive a response, we will update this report.

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THE FILING …

(S.C. Ninth Circuit)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Jenn Wood (Provided)

Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at jenn@fitsnews.com.

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5 comments

River Top fan April 11, 2024 at 9:37 pm

Disbar him.

Reply
AC Top fan April 12, 2024 at 7:30 am

Why is SLED not opening an investigation into the forgery he committed?

Reply
Rebecca Shields Top fan April 12, 2024 at 9:19 am

He needs to be disbarred and serve time I am sure this is happening much more than we know

Reply
Andrea Manigault Top fan April 12, 2024 at 9:55 am

Good for him! I knew he was crooked. He serves my district and when my son was brutally murdered I reached out to him and wouldn’t help me. God don’t like ugly and the things you do come back to to you Mr. Pendarvis

Reply
Buford T. Justice Top fan April 12, 2024 at 12:54 pm

Sorry shyster lawyer. Thought you had a license to steal did you? Remember Sheriff Justice says: You can think about it but don’t do it. I hope they throw the book at you!

Reply

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