Democratic South Carolina House member has law license suspended after forgery complaint

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A legislator in South Carolina has had his law license suspended after a former client accused him of forging his signature to reach a settlement in a lawsuit without his permission.

Democratic Rep. Marvin Pendarvis cannot practice law until the state Supreme Court lifts the suspension, justices said Friday in a written order.

The order didn't detail why the Office of Disciplinary Counsel recommended the suspension. Pendarvis has not responded publicly to the lawsuit against him by former client Adrian Lewis. A call to his law office number went unanswered Friday.

Lewis has hired a different lawyer who held a news conference detailing the malpractice allegations against Pendarvis after filing a lawsuit last month.

Lewis sued the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office over his arrest in 2021. Pendarvis told him his case was worth up to $325,000 but then settled it for $10,000 without Lewis knowing, the new lawyer said.

According to the lawsuit, Pendarvis ignored Lewis' questions for weeks. Then once Lewis learned of the settlement, Pendarvis offered him $75,000 cash out of his trust fund for clients when Lewis threatened to sue.

Pendarvis then sent Lewis several text messages asking him not to sue.

“Let’s handle this (expletive). No need to try and hurt me man. I can help you," Pendarvis wrote Lewis in text messages filed with the lawsuit.

Pendarvis is running for a fifth term in the House from his North Charleston district. He has no competition either in June's Democratic primary or the November general election.