Thursday, August 25, 2011

Attorney "Misappropriates" Football Tickets

The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports:

The law license of [a] Toledo attorney...has been suspended for two years, with the second year of that term stayed on conditions, for multiple acts of professional misconduct during his representation of a defendant in an aggravated murder case, failure to notify another client that he was not covered by professional malpractice insurance, and improper use of his law office trust account.

In a 7-0 per curiam decision announced today, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that after obtaining the murder case client’s ATM card and PIN number and a power of attorney over the client’s affairs, [The attorney] made multiple withdrawals from the client’s bank account without accounting to the client or placing the funds in his law office trust account, transferred more than $24,000 from the client’s 401(k) retirement account into [his] business account before having earned such an amount as fees, and induced his secretary to falsely notarize the client’s signatures signing over the titles of two cars to [him] when the secretary had not actually witnessed those signatures.

The Court also found that, when his client filed a grievance with the Toledo Bar Association, [the attorney] fabricated hourly bills that he claimed to have presented to the client during the representation, including 22 hours that he claimed to have spent conferring with the client in jail that were not consistent with the jail’s visitor registration log.

The Court rejected the stipulated sanction of a one-year suspension with six months stayed, and instead imposed a two-year suspension with the second year stayed on the conditions that [his] practice be monitored by an attorney selected by the Toledo Bar Association, and in addition to his standard continuing legal education requirements, he must complete additional continuing education course work in law office management prior to being reinstated.

From the opinion:

Respondent also used the POA to gain access to [the client's] home, where he took possession of some of [the client's] personal property, including a pair of Cleveland Browns football tickets.  Respondent claimed that he had intended to use the tickets as evidence in [the] trial.
However, respondent used the tickets to attend the game with a friend.

During the representation, respondent also obtained possession of [the client's] 1983 Porsche 928 and a 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood by causing [the client] to sign the backs of the titles to both vehicles as  transferor. Respondent then filled in his own name as transferee on both vehicles without any written authorization from [the client]. Respondent then had a secretary notarize [the client's]
signature on the titles, even though she had not seen [the client] sign them. Respondent stipulated that he had failed to keep records of, or account to [the client] for, the personal property he received.

The court's opinion is linked here.

Toledoblade.com reports that the client pleaded guilty on the second day of trial. He will not be using those Browns tickets for quite awhile. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2011/08/the-web-page-of-the-ohio-supreme-court-reports-the-law-license-of-a-toledo-attorneyhas-been-suspended-for-two-years.html

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