Friday, October 6, 2017

Estate Thefts Draw Interim Suspension

The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended a recently convicted attorney

The Court, being duly advised and upon consideration of all materials submitted, now finds that Respondent has been found guilty of the following felony offenses under Indiana law: theft (8 counts), check deception (5 counts), and corrupt business influence (2 counts).

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Respondent is suspended from the practice of law in this State, effective immediately. Respondent is already under suspension as ordered in Case No. 48S00-1504-DI-175. Respondent is ordered to fulfill the continuing duties of a suspended attorney under Admission and Discipline Rule 23(26). The interim suspension shall continue until further order of this Court or final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action, provided no other suspension is in effect...

The covered his guilty plea

 Embattled local attorney Stephen Schuyler pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges in Madison Circuit Court Division 3 on Thursday.

His trial on charges of theft and deception was to begin on Tuesday.

Judge Thomas Newman Jr. scheduled sentencing in his court for 9 a.m. June 22.

 Schuyler pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts of theft, check deception and corrupt business influence for alleged misappropriation of funds from six estates totaling more than $700,000.

His legal troubles emerged in January 2015 when a check he wrote to East Lynn Christian Church in the amount of $78,387.13 bounced. The church was named as a beneficiary in the estate of Sara Wilding.

Later that year, criminal Magistrate Judge Stephen Clase removed Schuyler from more than 130 cases in which he had a fiduciary interest in estates and guardianships. Those cases were assigned to other lawyers.

The Indiana Supreme Court accepted a recommendation from the Indiana Attorney Disciplinary Commission to indefinitely suspend Schuyler's law license because he didn't cooperate in the investigation of complaints filed against him.

Schuyler was forced to sell property he owned in Adams Township and Syracuse.

At sentencing, Newman will determine whether Schuyler will serve time in prison and whether he will be required to pay restitution.

What typically happens in cases like this is that a person will borrow money from an account and promise to pay it back with future earnings.

 "It becomes easy and then you're in over your head, and there's no way to pay it back," said Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings.

"If he's got a $600,000 home in southern Madison County, and a lake home in northern Indiana, it's pretty hard not to consider that greed," Cummings added. "That's a fairly lavish lifestyle in my view."

Newman will decide whether Schuyler will serve any time in prison at sentencing later this month. The maximum number of years he could serve is eight years under the most serious Class C felony charge.

"A lot of people that he ripped off want to see him get the maximum sentence," Maxine Pitkin said Thursday in a phone call to The Herald Bulletin.

Schuyler handled the estate of an uncle, who bequeathed $150,000 to Pitkin's mother, and $60,000 to Pitkin and her brother. Checks Schuyler wrote all bounced, said Pitkin, who lives in California.

"We want justice, and that's the only justice we can get," Pitkin said.

US News reported that he was sentenced to an eight-year term of imprisonment. (Mike Frisch)

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