Leavenworth woman pays divorce attorney in full then doesn’t hear from him for months

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- Veolett Mays has kept only a few reminders of her wedding day seven years ago. They're locked in a curio cabinet in her home.

“A lot of memories in here both good and bad,” Mays said as she took out to champagne glasses etched with the words "bride" and "groom."

Mays said she hasn’t seen her husband in five years. He left home to look for a job and never came back.

“He took my car with him,” said Mays, who works in housekeeping for nearby Fort Leavenworth.

She contacted police, but she’s never seen her husband since. But she believes he’s alive.

After five years of waiting, she’s grown tired of splitting her tax refund with a man who abandoned her. That’s why last year she hired a divorce attorney.

That’s where this problem starts.

Veolett Mays

“I told him I wanted to be divorced by December,” said Mays who negotiated a price of $1,500 for a no-fault divorce.

She signed a contract, filled out a questionnaire and made her first payment Aug. 8. By Oct. 1, she had paid her attorney in full.

But no paperwork had been filed with the courts, and her attorney wasn’t returning her phone calls.

"I called him six to 10 times," she said. "Nothing."

On Dec. 5, she left sent him an email: "I’m having problems getting a hold of you."

Again, no response.

"I’ve been had," she told FOX4 Problem Solvers. First by her husband and then by the attorney she hired to divorce him. She wanted a full refund, but couldn’t find him to demand it.

Problem Solvers paid a visit to her attorney’s Olathe law office. But a woman in the office, which houses multiple law firms, told us he hadn’t worked there since November.

So we did a little digging online, including the Kansas Judiciary’s website, which lists every attorney licensed in Kansas, including Mays’ attorney Mark Brinkworth.

Another website, the U.S. District Court, showed Brinkworth has a new job, and you won’t believe where. He’s now an assistant district attorney with Wyandotte County. According to public records, he started the job Nov. 15, but never told Mays.

That’s a problem.

Attorneys can’t ghost clients, particularly clients that have paid in full.

At our suggestion, Mays called the DA’s office and asked to speak with Brinkworth. A secretary told Mays that Brinkworth would get back with her. That was a promise Mays had difficulty believing.

However, a couple of days later, Brinkworth emailed Mays apologizing for not contacting her, saying he thought he had. He said the last couple of months had been a flurry of activity as he wrapped up cases in preparation for his new job.

To Brinkworth’s credit, he then recommended a new attorney to Mays who he said had agreed to handle the case at "a same or similar price point."

He said he would transfer her $1,500 to that attorney. If, however, she wanted a refund, he would send her the money.

Brinkworth had now done everything an attorney should do once he/she is unable to represent a client. If only he’d done this before his client had been
forced to call a television station for help.

“I just want my money back because I don’t trust him anymore,” said Mays, who received a $1,500 check from Brinkworth two days later.

FOX4 Problem Solvers tried to get Brinkworth’s side of this mess. But he didn’t respond to our phone call or email either. We even paid a visit to the DA’s office, hoping to speak to him in person. But had the same luck as Mays.

Silence.

Problem Solvers notified the Wyandotte County DA’s Office regarding Mays' problem, but got the same lack of response from them as we got from Brinkworth.

If you have a problem with an attorney in Kansas or Missouri, you can file a complaint with your state judicial disciplinary office. For Missouri, visit this site. For Kansas, visit this site.

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