November 15, 2012
No Mitigation For Alcoholism
The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports:
The Supreme Court of Ohio has permanently revoked the law license of Cleveland attorney Kevin T. Toohig for multiple violations of state attorney discipline rules, including conduct that resulted in his conviction in federal court on a felony count of tax evasion. Toohig’s license has been under an interim suspension since the court was notified of his felony conviction in January 2011.
In a 7-0 per curiam opinion, the court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline that in addition to the criminal conduct that resulted in his conviction for evading more than $184,000 in federal taxes, Toohig also engaged in a pattern of misconduct in which he misappropriated and failed to make timely payment to clients of funds that were on deposit in his law office trust account, failed to maintain required records accounting for deposits to and disbursements from that account, and improperly transferred funds from the trust account to an account in the name of a corporation that he owned for the purpose of sheltering funds from creditors and to pay personal and law office expenses.
In a separate incident, the court found that Toohig allowed a client who was a fugitive evading arrest for a multi-million dollar theft from the State of Colorado to wire more than $710,000 to Toohig’s client trust account, from which Toohig immediately transferred $50,000 to his own business account despite state rules that allow an attorney to withdraw legal fees from a client trust account only after they have been earned.
In imposing disbarment as the appropriate sanction for these and other rule violations, the court rejected Toohig’s claim that alcoholism was a significant contributing factor in his misconduct. The court pointed out that the conduct leading to Toohig’s tax evasion conviction took place eight years before his diagnosis of chemical dependency in 2009, and also noted that much of the mishandling of client funds and improper use of his trust account for which Toohig was cited took place in late 2009 and during 2010, after he had achieved sobriety.
The court concluded that Toohig’s pattern of misconduct involving multiple offenses and clients over an extended time period, including a felony conviction and multiple incidents of conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation, and conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, supported the disciplinary board’s recommendation that he be permanently disbarred.
The opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)
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