VA Bar revokes provisional approval for RRHA general counsel - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

VA Bar revokes provisional approval for RRHA general counsel

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

There's more trouble for the top attorney at the agency that manages Richmond's public housing. Just three days ago, NBC12 told you Michelle Waller wasn't even licensed to practice law in Virginia. Now, we've learned the Virginia State Bar revoked the temporary permission it had given her to practice at the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

A letter sent to Michelle Waller withdraws the bar's provisional approval to act as corporate counsel for RRHA. It is dated Friday, which is the same day we aired our original investigation into whether or not Michelle Waller is breaking the rules.

The note states Waller is not eligible to practice law under the corporate counsel rule because an attorney cannot be employed by a government agency, which of course, RRHA is.

Waller didn't apply to the bar until two weeks ago, even though she has been general counsel there since September of 2012. The application came after NBC12 began asking questions about her Virginia law license.

Waller's Ohio law license also came into question. We've been digging into her background and found for five months before she came to Richmond, her law license was suspended. She had failed to file her registration paperwork on time.

Waller got in trouble again and actually faced monetary sanctions in 2008 for failing to do the required continuing legal education.

Another record in Ohio shows a court case in which Waller, who now works for a subsidized housing agency, fell behind on her mortgage payments. The bank foreclosed on her home.

We brought our investigation to NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin to find out exactly what this could mean for taxpayers.

"Whenever you have an individual who seems to be unable to attend to their own details that raises a difficult question of whether they're competent to provide legal advice and pay attention to details and deadlines for other people," he explained.

Benjamin says there are broader implications for an agency dealing with vulnerable citizens.

"These requirements exist in order to protect the public from those who might practice law or give legal advice without sufficient education, knowledge and experience," Benjamin added. "So it's no small matter."

Late Monday, RRHA issued a statement questioning why this information is a story. CEO Adrienne Goolsby goes on to say: "The authority continues to view Ms. Waller as a valued employee and has no further comment." 

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