When a detective on October 20th spotted a man who looked like a serial bank robber being pursued by police, they quickly deduced that they had the right man from prepared notes for bank tellers and a ball-peen hammer in his waistband. They also learned that the suspect, Aaron Patrick Honaker, 41, is a lawyer who previously represented parties in business and creditor cases.
Honaker is accused of using the same tactics in the attempted robbery or robbery of six banks. He would allegedly pass a hand-written note to the teller with instructions like“[d]on’t touch the alarm or call the police,” “empty all of your $50s and $100s and put it in an envelope,” and “[k]eep calm, and give me all the money in the drawer, I have a gun.”
What is striking is that he does not appear to have made much from the robberies.
Honaker has been a Florida bar member since January 2008. He lists his law school degree as coming from Duke University School of Law in 2006, but a Duke spokesman told WPLG-TV there is no record of such a degree. Instead, he appears to have graduated from Wake Forest University in December 2005. It is a curious lie since Wake Forest is a respected national law school in its own right. Moreover, Honaker’s colleagues spoke highly of him as an intelligent and even brilliant lawyer.
According to WFOR-TV, he has previous arrests for petty larceny, forgery and battery.
Yet, Martindale.com described Honaker as a business litigator and trial lawyer: “In addition to prevailing in major cases through dispositive motions, Aaron has tried several cases to favorable verdicts. Most recently, Aaron was lead counsel in the successful efforts to investigate and recover the fraudulent transfer of millions of dollars overseas, including Switzerland, Hong Kong and the Isle of Man.”
According to Heavy, it lists the following cases where he was counsel:
• Represented Florida Gaming Centers, Inc. and Casino Miami Jai-Alai in sale of substantially all assets for $155 million through Bankruptcy Court approved auction process
• Represented trustee and successor agent to FDIC of 5th largest bank holding company failure in U.S. history and implemented plan of reorganization through a $1.6 billion equity infusion transaction with Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. (now Bank of America, N.A.);
• Represented Bell Canada (as U.S. counsel) in the acquisition of all Canadian assets of Circuit City Stores, Inc., including over 750 retail operation stores throughout Canada;
• Represented Chapter 7 trustee of a foreign exchange trading company in avoiding and recovering over $9 million of fraudulent transfers for the benefit of the estate, including successful trial on the merits of a Section 548 avoidance action;
• Successfully defended Time Warner, Inc. and TMZ.com with respect to legal actions brought by Trustee for Lorraine Brooke Associates, Inc. estate (a Florida corporation established and operated by O.J. Simpson and family) in connection with the alleged publication of manuscript of O.J. Simpson book “If I Did It?”
He is being prosecuted in the federal system and is looking at a considerable amount of jail time, if convicted. Under Section 2113, each count can bring 20 years. The problem for defense counsel is that, as an officer of the court, he can expect little mercy from the court. His position as an attorney works against him on every level — with a jury, with the court, and with the public. He is accused of crossing sides from upholding the law to breaking it and that does not play well in the court of law.
I expect that the case will reveal a troubled life before his arrest. We have often seen such criminal conduct by lawyers tied to drug abuse or psychological problems. His best defense could be a proven drug or psychological problem (if available) combined with a plea.
Much like the lawyers arrested recently throwing Molotov cocktails at police, it is hard to watch the fall of people who worked so hard to earn their law degrees and practice law. In the New York cases, the attorneys were clearly motivated by extremist ideology. Here the motivation could prove more complex. He was not making much in these robberies. He was unsuccessful in some attempts and in another walked away with only $1050.
The only thing that is clear is that this is unlikely to end well for Honaker.