TRADE SECRETS THEFT SAGA Two attorneys connected to Compass Marketing litigation may be eligible for being disbarred in Maryland in a similar action to results in the case of Keith Bonner
By Ken Rossignol
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
NEWS AND COMMENTARY
ANNAPOLIS, MD – An examination of the 2022 case of the Attorney Grievance Commission vs. Keith Bonner in which the lawyer who was a name partner in a firm specializing in representing insurance companies reveals that the attorney was disbarred after his partners caught him red-handed stealing from the firm and reported him to the AGC.
Court filings in the federal civil action filed in 2022, dismissed in 2023, and reportedly being soon being appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals alleged that former St. Mary’s Deputy States Attorney Daniel Joseph White used credit cards of Compass Marketing Inc. to take former St. Mary’s Assistant States Attorney Julie White and her family on vacations to Florida.
Other documents associated with the filings in federal court on Feb. 14, 2022, show that Daniel White also opened secret bank accounts, along with his brother Maryland Judge Michael White, in the name of Compass Marketing, with the address for the funds used that of the home of Michael White instead of the firm’s business address.
The secret bank accounts were discovered when unauthorized life insurance policies on the life of Compass Marketing owner John White were revealed in renewal notices sent by an insurance company.
Former St. Mary’s Assistant States Attorney Julie White, now an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of West Virginia, allegedly falsely represented herself as an employee of Compass Marketing in the process of renewing insurance for Daniel White.
Other documents show that American Express credit cards were used for the personal use of Daniel White.
In the case of Keith Bonner, who was disbarred in Maryland and the District of Columbia, Bonner was one of four lawyers who formed a firm in 2001 that later grew to include a staff of 86 attorneys. Court records in Maryland show that Keith Bonner was the lead name partner in his firm due to the notoriety of his father, Walter Bonner, who represented Maurice Stans, one of two Cabinet members named in the infamous Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.
In the case of Bonner, the Bar Counsel of the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission investigation documented that Bonner used a firm American Express credit card to rack up over $3,000 in travel expenses for a family vacation to Bermuda in 2012. The court records revealed that Bonner falsely reported that the trip was associated with a conference with a firm’s client in Bermuda. More such false reports of client conferences were related to other expenses of Bonner on family trips to Maine and a trip to New York City in 2016 to take in a Broadway performance of Hamilton.
Bonner was reported in the documents to have become disgruntled with how compensation and bonuses were being paid to members of the firm despite him being a significant rainmaker bringing in business. The ire over being slighted led Bonner to work to even out the financial score. The discovery of his tactics led to his firm shoving him out of the association and reporting him to the bar association.
In its ruling disbarring Bonner, the Maryland Supreme Court stated: “We conclude that Mr. Bonner’s intentional dishonest conduct involving misappropriation of funds is of the variety in which we have imposed a sanction of disbarment.”
Other actions Daniel White took included payment to the former Chief of Staff of Governor Robert Ehrlich, James C. “Chip” DiPaula, a former employee of the Compass Marketing firm, of $65,000, which owner John White did not authorize. Before obtaining the funds from a secret Compass Marketing bank account, DiPaula ended his association with Compass and began his marketing firm, Flywheel Digital, which he later sold to Ascential Plc for over $400 million.
Daniel White was requested to comment on his use of Compass Marketing credit cards, and his response will be added to an update to this article when the answer is received.