Monique Pressley was an extremely memorable figure in Bill Cosby’s defense team. She was stylish, intelligent, quick-witted and silver-tongued. She was known for going head to head with reporters who even questioned Cosby’s innocence.
But in August of 2016, Pressley stepped down from the case—or was fired. The reports differ and Pressley, one of Cosby’s loudest and strongest defenders, never released a statement about her departure.
Since then, we haven’t heard much of Pressley’s name. There were reports that she was going to join R. Kelly’s legal team. But that never came to pass.
Now, she’s back in the news. And instead of being associated with another high profile client, this time it’s Pressley’s conduct that is being called into question.
According to the Daily Mail, Pressley has been suspended from the bar indefinitely for allegedly misusing her clients’ money.
Pressley’s former clients claim she would demand payments upfront before any legal work had been completed. And instead of depositing funds into an escrow account, like she told them she would, Pressley applied the money to her personal accounts or her husband’s business accounts.
The suspension was enacted in August 2019, after an investigation from a disciplinary council found “clear and convicting evidence” of her misuse of funds. The council recommended that she be disbarred.
Pressley’s former clients accused her of taking the retainers they gave her and using them for her personal affairs—without executing substantial legal work.
One complaint came from Edwin and Paula Amaker, a couple Pressley and her husband knew from church. (Pressley is also an ordained minister.) Paula hired Pressley in a claim against a former business partner. Paula paid Pressley $5,000 and her hourly rate of $425. The attorney told her client, she would deposit the money in an escrow account and withdraw the money as she earned it. But legal documents prove that Pressley didn’t have an escrow account at that time. Instead, she cashed the check a day after receiving it.
After working on the case for two months, Pressley told Paula that the case would likely go to trial. She told her she could pay a flat fee of $3,000 to complete it, instead of paying the hourly rate. Paula agreed, paid the money, and again, Pressley cashed the check.
After a year, Paula said she was “more and more upset and desperate because she was not seeing any results or evidence of working being done.” When Paula’s husband spoke to Pressley’s husband, Carlton, he assured him that he would handle the matter even though he wasn’t a lawyer.
From October 2014 to September 2016, Pressley didn’t communicate with Paula. Once Carlton took over the matter, he continued to allow Paula to believe her case was progressing.
When the two couples met to speak about the case in October 2016, the Pressleys told the Amakers they would need to pay several more thousand dollars for additional expenses.
That’s when Paula filed a complaint against Pressley, demanding a refund. As of April 2019, she has yet to receive it, according to legal documents.
She did the same thing with Billy Greer, a man she had been hired to represent in a gender and age discrimination lawsuit.
This time, Pressley personally took Greer to the bank in order for him to withdraw $2,400 in cash to pay her. Pressley deposited the money into her husband’s overdrawn business account restoring the balance to $2,054.74.
Two weeks later, her husband’s business account dropped down to $121 after the money was spent on gas, food, cash withdrawals, and other day-to-day expenses. At this point, Pressley had done no work on the case other than meeting with Greer and attending a five-minute status conference.
Two months later, Pressley asked Greer for $7,500 to complete the case or she would be done representing him. Greer paid the fee and again, the money went into her husband’s business account.
In August, Greer learned that his case had been dismissed because Pressley had not been following up.
In March 2017, Pressley was hired by Randal and Lara Landers to investigate the circumstances of their son’s suspicious death and relay their concerns to the U.S. Navy. They wired $15,000 in advanced fees to Pressley’s escrow account along with her hourly rate of $625.
The account had previously been overdrawn. Their wire transfer brought the balance to $14,588.01.
Less than a week later, the money had been depleted. Two weeks later, the balance was -$549.99.
In June, three months later, Pressley asked to discuss Randal’s budget. Randal was concerned about the lack of work that had been done and asked Pressley for an invoice of the hours she’d worked. When she didn’t provide the invoice, he asked that the $15,000 retainer be returned “given how little she’d accomplished on the case” and she only acknowledged “10 hours of work for the entire month of June.”
He has yet to receive a refund.