Solomons attorney facing possible disbarment

Solomons, MD - A dispute among partners in a business venture could result in the group’s attorney losing his license to practice law in Maryland, documents on file in the Court of Appeals of Maryland stated. The lawyer at the center of the tempest, V. Charles Donnelly (pictured, right), told he is optimistic he will retain his status and not be disbarred.

In 2006 and 2010, Donnelly, whose residence and law office are on Solomons Island, ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner.

According to the court documents, a petition seeking disciplinary action against Donnelly was submitted to the Attorney Grievance Commission (AGC) of Maryland in March 2016. A 13-day trial was conducted by the commission between mid-February and early April of this year in Prince George’s County Circuit Court. The documents state that Donnelly was one of five parties that formed an entity known as Solomons One LLC in June 2005. A few weeks after its formation the group purchased commercial property in Solomons with funds borrowed from BB&T Bank. Members, including Donnelly, stopped making contribution payments to the bank during the summer of 2012 and in March 2013 BB&T filed for “confession of judgement” against Solomons One and each of its members. Then in August of that year the group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Other members of Solomons One identified in court papers are Deborah Steffen, Dr. Alfred Greenberg and Helena Greenberg, Catherine Erickson-File, and Christine McNelis.

In the summary of findings presented the Maryland Court of Appeals, Judge Nicholas E. Rattal found that Donnelly’s “activities with regard to Solomons One [S1] and its members during 2012 and 2013 and his subsequent communications with the AGC’s attorneys (the three-member Bar Counsel) “violated multiple Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct.” The documents stated that Rattal “found clear and convincing evidence that [Donnelly] knowingly made false statements to the Circuit Court of Calvert County in litigation involving S1.” The litigation involved “pier rights” that the commercial property owners possessed. Rattal found that Donnelly’s appearance at a court hearing June 17, 2013—just a month after being terminated as legal counsel by the three of the other S1 parties and not disclosing that fact, “was in and of itself a false representation that he was still authorized to speak for S1.”

Additionally, the Court of Appeals summary states that Rattal found Donnelly’s conduct regarding the drafting and execution of an “assignment of contract rights transferring his client’s contract/pier rights to himself as trustee was dishonest as to S1 and four of its individual members ‘in that he used it to divest the client of an asset and establish a trust enabling him to pursue the pier rights litigation without acting as the attorney for S1.”

In the summary of the AGC’s findings, it was noted Donnelly purchased property in Solomons Island in 1993 that was adjacent to the riverfront property Solomons One purchased a decade later. At the time of Donnelly’s purchase “the seller gave him documentation indicating that there had been an agreement with the state and county with regard to building s commercial pier in the water adjacent to the land. Between 2008 and the beginning of 2012, [Donnelly] had sporadic conversations with other S1 members regarding the potential pier rights.”

“This is just a partnership dispute,” Donnelly told, adding that in over 30 years as a practicing attorney he has never had a complaint filed against him.
“It’s not completed,” said Donnelly, who explained a final decision on his status as an attorney won’t be rendered until this fall. “I’m optimistic and enthusiastic,” he said.

Contact Marty Madden at

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