Monday, April 15, 2024

‘Glad this chapter is finally closed’: Julia Olson-Boseman cleared of criminal charges

Julia Olson-Boseman will not be prosecuted with criminal charges from the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. (Port City Daliy/File)

WILMINGTON — After being disbarred by the state last month, a former chair of the New Hanover County commissioners will not be prosecuted criminally following a two-year investigation.

READ MORE: Former NHC chair Julia Olson-Boseman disbarred

On Monday, chief financial crimes prosecutor for the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, Jordan Ford, sent a report to New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David that state criminal charges will not move forward on Julia Olson-Boseman. Ford maintained, while Olson-Boseman acted in violation of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct as a lawyer, she did not infringe upon criminal behavior when it came to allegations that Olson-Boseman took $20,000 from a former client with false pretense.

Olson-Boseman told Port City Daily via text Tuesday she is happy to see the investigation conclude. 

“A lot has changed for me in three years,” she wrote. “I escaped an abusive relationship, gained full custody of my teenage son and now enjoy being a full-time mom. I’m glad this chapter is finally closed and hopefully my family can finally have some peace. I have worked for many years helping people in our local recovery community and will continue that important work.”

Olson-Boseman, who has fought a public battle with addiction, said she volunteers currently. She was licensed to practice law in 1993 and oversaw The Boseman Law Group until shuttering in January 2021.

An investigation into her started when the Wilmington Police Department fielded a complaint from Gary Holyfield, who claimed Olson-Boseman took his money without services rendered. The county DA and WPD Chief Donny Williams turned over the matter to the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys in July 2021, due to conflict of interest, and requested it prosecute the matter if found viable.

In the meantime, the North Carolina State Bar was also investigating Olson-Boseman — who was serving as chair of the NHC commissioners at the time; she also was state senator from 2005 through 2011. The bar was looking into her for mismanagement of $9,000 in client funds. According to former court documents, Olson-Boseman told the state she closed her business in January 2021 but her accounts stayed open through November the same year.

Olson-Boseman has since been disbarred and turned over her license to practice in November 2023.

“While I can appreciate that some citizens of our district may be confused by this decision following the NC State Bar’s determination to revoke Ms. Olson-Boseman’s law license for the same conduct that was alleged in the criminal complaint, I would remind them that the criminal courts bear a much higher burden of proof than the Bar,” District Attorney Ben David wrote to Port City Daily Tuesday.

Holyfield hired Olson-Boseman in February 2020 on a $20,000 retainer. He lost his 16-year-old daughter in a car crash on I-140 and sought Olson-Boseman’s help with the insurance claim. However, Holyfield said he pursued suing the state for wrongful death at Olson-Boseman’s behest.

According to previous PCD reporting, Holyfield said Olson-Boseman would not return his phone calls and never informed him she retired from practicing law a year after he retained her. Holyfield eventually learned a wrongful death lawsuit had never been filed.

Ford’s notes in the report show the contract between Holyfield and Olson-Boseman noted that money exchanged for the retainer was not tied to a guarantee of refund: 

“When Attorney’s representation ends, client will not be entitled to a refund of any portion of the minimum fee, even if the representation ends before Lawyer has provided legal services equivalent in value to the minimum fee, unless it can be demonstrated that the minimum fee is clearly an excessive fee under the circumstances.”

The contract also indicated that the money would be deposited into the attorney’s account, not a trust account for the client. Therefore, the terms of the agreement were clear. 

Ford explained in the official analysis that there was not enough evidence to show Olson-Boseman did not fulfill the contract or had any intent to defraud the client. He said there would need to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt to prosecute and ably convince another of Olson-Boseman’s guilt. 

He looked at five areas to determine if such could be done:

  • The defendant made a representation to another
  • This representation was false
  • This representation was calculated and intended to deceive
  • The victim was in fact deceived by this representation
  • The defendant thereby obtained or attempted to obtain property from

Ford said the first three points are considered wholly, when assessed with the facts in the Olson-Boseman case. While the state, he said, could prove a representation was made between the defendant and victim, it could not demonstrate it was calculated, false, or based in deception.

Since Holyfield signed a contract that executed the terms of the retainer fee — not guaranteeing a refund or declaring money would be deposited into a client fund — deceit would be hard-pressed to be convincing. 

“At best, the evidence in this matter indicates the nonfulfillment of a contractual obligation between Olson-Boseman and Holyfield. Thus, the central point of the dispute remains contractual in nature, not criminal,” Ford wrote.

It also counters the defendant’s claim that Olson-Boseman “obtained property from the victim.” Or at the very least, Ford writes, there is not enough evidence presented to sufficiently establish “fraudulent intent.”

“I have not received or reviewed any additional evidence that indicates Olson-Boseman obtained or attempted to obtain any property from Holyfield by false pretenses,” according to Ford’s report.

Ford goes on to say he spoke with many officials associated with the case and reviewed the file multiple times, while also seeking input from fellow prosecutors within the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys Office.

“The totality of the evidence I have reviewed in this case is legally insufficient to proceed with criminal charges,” he concluded and did not suggest prosecuting the matter.

Catch up on previous reporting on this story over the last few years:

State Bar probes misconduct allegations against NHC Commission chair; criminal investigation possible

New Hanover County Commissioner Julia Olson-Boseman held in contempt of court

Olson-Boseman a no-show per courts, requests State Bar lift arrest order

Julia Olson-Boseman’s wife says county chairwoman drained accounts, maxed out cards, cut off communication

New allegations say commissioner took $118,000 from joint account with wife days after a judge found her in contempt of court

State bar agrees to lift arrest order for Julia Olson-Boseman, gives her 21 days to provide financial documents

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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