Thursday, January 17, 2008
The Ohio Supreme Court imposed an indefinite suspension in a case where the attorney had obtained his mother-in-law's power of attorney for his wife after having asserted in other proceedings that the mother-in-law was incompetent. The father-in-law also gave the wife power of attorney. Thereafter, the lawyer deposited the in-laws' pension and retirement checks into his trust account and wrote hundreds of trust checks to cash. While he claimed to have used the cash for the in-laws' benefit, in fact their nursing home expenses went unpaid. Indicted on felony theft charges, the lawyer entered a guilty plea (without admitting guilt) to three misdemeanor counts of defrauding creditors.
The Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline found "[the attorney] and his wife used his client trust account to launder money from the [in-laws'] retirement funds." The court rejected the claim that the lawyer had been sanctioned for invoking his Fifth Amendment rights and that an amendment of the charges violated his due process rights. (Mike Frisch)