Thursday, August 10, 2017

Plot Against Client Gets Proposed Sanctions In Ohio

The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct has filed recommendations with the state Supreme Court  in two related matters that led to criminal convictions.

WFMJ. com reported

Two Youngstown attorneys will not see any prison time for violating federal law, but one of them is under house arrest.

A judge sitting in U.S. District Court in Cleveland sentenced attorneys Neal Atway of Youngstown and Scott Cochran of Austintown on Tuesday.

Forty-five-year old Cochran was fined $2,500 and placed on probation for two years after being convicted on a charge of misbehaving in court by failing to provide truthful testimony in a trial.

Atway, 49, was fined $2,000 and placed on probation for three years, with the first four months to be served on electronically monitored home confinement.

Atway was found guilty of conspiring against the rights of a client who had hired him to represent him in a federal criminal case.

Lawyers representing Cochran and Atway filed memorandums in federal court suggesting sentences for their clients.

In Atway’s sentencing memorandum, attorney Roger Synenberg suggested probation for his client, writing, “Mr. Atway is deeply remorseful, ashamed, and embarrassed by his conduct.”

Synenberg says Atway has been punished by having been found guilty of a felony and the trauma it has caused his family.

Lawyer Lynn Maro suggested that a fine be levied against attorney Cochran, saying he has already suffered significant punishment.

“While many of his clients were willing to stay with him, and many in the local legal community expressed continued support for him, the stress and his commitment to fighting the original charges against him devastated his (law) practice,” wrote Maro in the sentencing memorandum.

Atway and Cochran pleaded guilty to the less serious violations following a mistrial that was declared last March as a jury was considering evidence presented from an original six count indictment handed up against the two in February 2014.

Both attorneys and convenience store owner Mohd Rawhneh of Boardman were originally accused of taking part in a plot to extort money from another local convenience store operator.

The original charges against the attorneys included extortion, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and making false statements to investigators.


Atway had been hired by store owner Charles Muth who faced sentencing in federal court for his involvement in a drive-by shooting incident where a bullet was fired into the Boardman home occupied by the wife of Rawhneh, a rival convenience store owner.

Instead of representing Muth’s best interests, prosecutors say Attorney Atway conspired with Rawhneh to leverage money and property from Muth by leading him to believe that if he didn’t pay up, Rawhneh would appear at Muth’s sentencing hearing to urge that he receive more prison time.

Rawhneh operates the Tiger's Den Drive Thru in Howland, the Hanoverton One Stop in Hanoverton, the 7 & 30 Superette and Ohio Food Mart in East Liverpool, as well as two other stores in Ravenna and Kent.

At one point, Muth allegedly gave Rawhneh part ownership in one of his stores, and gave attorney Atway $18,000 dollars with the understanding that the cash would be given to Rawhneh, according to court documents.

Atway and Cochran pleaded guilty to the lesser charges after federal prosecutors said they would retry the case following the mistrial.

Attorney Cochran was charged with misbehavior in the presence of the court because during his March trial, Cochran testified under oath that he didn’t know before Muth’s sentencing that Rawhneh had told Atway that he would remain silent during sentencing if Rawhneh could come to an agreement with Muth.

However the U.S. Attorney says Cochran was party to a phone conversation prior to the sentencing where Atway told Muth that Rawhneh would agree to keep his mouth shut during Muth’s sentencing.

Rawhneh has already pleaded guilty to charges of aiding and abetting, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to tamper with a witness, victim or an informant. He has yet to be sentenced.

The board proposes a two-year suspension for Atway  and a stayed one -year suspension for Cochran. (Mike Frisch)

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