When a promised donation of $500,000 to the Arkansas Arts Center ostensibly from a Dubai businessman was a no-show, the lawyer who'd promised the gift made himself scarce as well.
Now, Elgin Clemons, a former member of the Arts Center board and former attorney in the Wright, Lindsey and Jennings firm, has surrendered his Arkansas law license and suggests he himself may have been duped by persons representing Mohammed bin Ali Al Abbar.
Clemons surrendered his license to avoid a disciplinary hearing by the state Supreme Court's Committee on Professional Conduct, which had information that could have constituted "serious misconduct," including representing both buyer and seller in several business deals involving a group formed by Clemons, Al Abbar Group LLC. The Supreme Court granted the petition Feb. 24.
Clemons, a former governor of Boys State and a graduate of Princeton University and New York University Law School, said in his petition that "... somewhere on this journey I made some unfortunate choices as to those with whom I associated in legal and business matters and the problems described below arose."
Among other rules violations that could have been found, the petition states, was that Clemons, in repeatedly promising the Arts Center, between November 2008 and January 2010, that a pledge by Al Abbar, to defray the costs of the exhibit "World of the Pharaohs," was forthcoming, had engaged in conduct that "involved dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." The petition says Clemons' former firm investigated to verify that Clemons represented the real Mohammed Ali Al Abbar; the results of that investigation are under seal.
The Arts Center lost money on the exhibit and then-director Nan Plummer resigned shortly after the Arts Center wrote off the $500,000.
Clemons will also surrender his law license in New York, the petition says.