Former Pitt Meadows mayor John Becker at his former law office. (News files)

Former Pitt Meadows mayor John Becker at his former law office. (News files)

Former Pitt Meadows mayor suspended from practising law for 14 months

Statement from John Becker says anxiety and depression played role

Former Pitt Meadows mayor John Becker will not be practising law for 14 months, after a discipline hearing with the Law Society of B.C.

The tribunal also ordered Becker to pay costs. A decision with written reasons has not yet been released, said Jason Kuzminski, law society director of communications.

Becker was scheduled to face three hearings on three separate citations, including misappropriation of funds, in November. During the process the citations were joined, and the 14-month suspension was a joint proposal by both sides, to address all three citations, explained Kuzminski.

Becker released a statement on Sunday:

“For several years, I have been dogged by allegations of legal improprieties and media coverage, which have hurt my business and health, as well as people I hold dear. To relieve my family and colleagues from further distress – and to protect myself from further mental health impacts – I agreed to a resolution that has now been accepted by the Law Society’s hearing panel, which is a 14-month suspension to begin on March 1, 2021.

“I take full responsibility for the actions for which I have been cited and acknowledge that I failed to properly fulfill my legal obligations at my previous law firm. My actions fell short of the standards expected of lawyers in B.C. When one lawyer stumbles, it effects the entire profession, something I regret deeply. My actions are not indicative of how the vast majority of BC lawyers conduct themselves. I apologize to all my colleagues in the entire legal community.

“Above all, I would also like to apologize to those clients who were prejudiced by my actions. It was not my intention to hurt you, but that does not excuse the impact I had on you. Please accept my sincerest apology.”

Becker’s statement went on to say he has suffered sometimes severe anxiety and depression, for which he has received “medical supports.”

“As you know, mental health issues can contribute to errors in judgement, which I believe played a part in my mistakes and lack of oversight at my previous law firm. All of this was compounded by the stresses that come with a firm growing too quickly, and the fact that I took time away to serve in public office. Again, no excuses.”

One of the citations was for misappropriation of funds, during a period from 2012-2014. Listed in that citation was failure to deliver a bill before withdrawal of client funds, and using pre-signed trust cheques. There was also an allegation of misappropriation or improper billing, involving 205 separate charges. That citation was issued in September of 2018.

A second and third citation were issued in February of 2019. One involved letters which allegedly contained untruthful or misleading information about Becker & Company’s trademark agent status, from 2015 and 2016. It also said during an investigation of complaints, Becker failed to respond fully to the Law Society, or made false representations.

A third citation was for professional misconduct in 2017 and 2018. It involved 199 clients, and said Becker removed their corporate records from “G Legal” without their knowledge, instructions or consent, and failed to provide the clients with accurate information about the location of their records.

READ ALSO: Dingwall elected mayor in Pitt Meadows as turnout up 10 per cent

Becker was elected mayor of Pitt Meadows in 2014, after having served as a city councillor for nine years. He was beaten by current mayor Bill Dingwall in the 2018 election.

The first citation against him was issued Sept. 25, 2018, and the election was held just weeks later, on Oct.20 that year.


 


ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Pitt Meadows

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.'s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
Province ‘ramping up’ COVID-19 vaccination effort in hard-hit Surrey

‘Door-to-door’ registration program in the works, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

Serena Deol, Jaspreet Deol, Madison Sweeney and Tanveer Pannu (pictured clockwise from top left) are Surrey United soccer players recruited to the University of Fraser Valley. (submitted photos)
Surrey United soccer quartet sign to play for UFV Cascades

Three of the university’s recruits are Panorama Ridge Secondary students

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

White Rock’s Joan Bywater shows the setup she uses when participating in online paint parties hosted by the Seniors Come Share Society. (Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: Virtual gallery showcases inspirations of Semiahmoo Peninsula seniors

‘What is art if not something that motivates more art?’

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read