Thursday, July 3, 2008
The Ohio Supreme Court permanently disbarred a court of common pleas judge for misconduct both as a judge and in private practice. The misconduct is described on the court's web page as follows:
In today’s decision, the Court unanimously affirmed the disciplinary board’s findings that Hoskins violated multiple provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct while serving on the bench, including deliberately concealing his personal ownership interest in a building in which a court-related office contracted to lease space. The Court also found that Hoskins committed multiple rule violations by entering into discussions with a convicted felon, David Bliss, in which Hoskins suggested that Bliss’ purchase of the above-mentioned building at a greatly inflated price would be a legal way for Bliss to utilize money he claimed to have obtained years earlier through criminal activity and to have concealed from authorities while in prison. The Court noted that, because Bliss was secretly cooperating with a law enforcement “sting” operation at the time, the case record included tape recordings of conversations in which Hoskins gave Bliss detailed instructions on how to “launder” the alleged concealed funds from his earlier crimes through a stock transfer in which he would acquire ownership of Hoskins’ building.
With regard to the offenses alleged during his years in private practice, the Court adopted the board’s findings that Hoskins engaged in a pattern of misconduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation and committed other ethical offenses by repeatedly making improper and unauthorized withdrawals of money for his own use from the estates of several relatives over whose assets he exercised fiduciary control as executor or administrator. The board also found that Hoskins failed to timely disburse estate assets to the rightful beneficiaries, failed to keep required records accounting for his withdrawals and disbursements from the estates, charged excessive legal fees, and filed incomplete, inaccurate and misleading reports with the probate court that concealed his improper diversion of funds from the estates to his own use.
In rejecting Hoskins’ claim that permanent disbarment was disproportionate to his offenses, particularly in light of the fact that he was acquitted of all criminal charges brought against him, the Court noted that he had engaged in a pattern of misconduct stretching over a period of almost 10 years and that his actions involved multiple rule violations, reflected dishonest and selfish motives, and had caused serious financial harm to his private clients and “incalculable harm to the public perception of the judiciary and attorneys.”