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March 10, 2009
Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded More Than $118,000 by Clients' Security Fund

The Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio (CSF) awarded $118,062.50 to 30 victims of attorney theft at its meeting Friday. Ten former or suspended Ohio attorneys were found to have misappropriated client funds. Two deceased Ohio attorneys also were involved in the claims presented to the board.

More information about the disciplinary cases against some of these attorneys is available on the Court’s online docket at: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/Clerk/ecms/searchbypartyname.asp.

Cuyahoga County

The board determined that former clients of four Cuyahoga County attorneys were eligible for reimbursement.  A former client of suspended attorney Aziza D. Jimerson was reimbursed $100 as a result of Ms. Jimerson’s failure to provide the services requested.  Ms. Jimerson’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on May 30, 2007.

Sixteen former clients of former attorney James L. Major Jr. were reimbursed a total of $34,162 as a result of Mr. Major’s failure to provide the services requested.  Mr. Major resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Sept. 28, 2007.

A former client of former attorney Cynthia Smith was reimbursed $5,125 as a result of Ms. Smith’s failure to provide the services requested.  Ms. Smith resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Oct. 23, 2007.

Two former clients of suspended attorney Rene’ D. Smith were reimbursed a total of $1,450 as a result of Ms. Smith’s failure to provide the services requested.  Ms. Smith’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on Dec. 3, 2008.

Franklin County

The board determined that former clients of two Franklin County attorneys were eligible for reimbursement.  A former client of former Franklin County attorney Christopher G. Gueli was reimbursed $3,275.50 as a result of Mr. Gueli’s failure to provide the services requested.  Mr. Gueli was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Sept. 25, 2008.

A former client of former attorney Andrew R. Haney was reimbursed $2,250 as a result of Mr. Haney’s failure to provide the services requested.  Mr. Haney resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Aug. 30, 2007.

Hamilton County

The board determined that three former clients of suspended Hamilton County attorney Kenneth L. Lawson were eligible for reimbursement of legal fees paid to Mr. Lawson for services that he failed to provide.  The board reimbursed a total of $15,750 to Mr. Lawson’s former clients.  Mr. Lawson’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on July 9, 2008.

A former client of deceased attorney Sharon Baird was reimbursed $3,600 for fees paid to Ms. Baird prior to her death.  The board found that the services were not completed and the fee was not refunded.  Ms. Baird passed away on June 2, 2008.

Lake County

The board determined that a former client of Lake County attorney Bartley J. Troy was eligible for reimbursement of $500 paid to Mr. Troy for legal services that he failed to provide.  Mr. Troy was suspended from the practice of law in Ohio on Feb. 12, 2009.

Lucas County

A former client of suspended attorney Darrell V. Van Horn Jr. was reimbursed $850.  The board determined that Mr. Van Horn failed to provide the services requested.  Mr. Van Horn’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on March 21, 2007.

Mahoning County

The board determined that a former estate client of disbarred attorney Richard D. Goldberg was eligible for reimbursement of $50,000.  The board’s decision was based upon a finding that Mr. Goldberg failed to distribute or otherwise account for funds belonging to the estate.  Mr. Goldberg was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Feb. 27, 2002.

Stark County

A former client of deceased Stark County attorney John H. Frieg was reimbursed $1,000 as a result of Mr. Frieg’s failure to complete the services requested prior to his death on May 23, 2007. 

The CSF was created in 1985 by the Supreme Court of Ohio to reimburse victims of attorney theft, embezzlement or misappropriation. The CSF is not taxpayer funded, but funded entirely by registration fees paid by every Ohio attorney. Ohio has more than 35,000 attorneys engaged in the active practice of law. Less than one tenth of 1 percent of those attorneys is involved in CSF claims.

Law clients who believe they have sustained financial losses resulting from attorney theft, embezzlement or misappropriation should contact the CSF at 614.387.9390 or toll-free in Ohio at 1.800.231.1680.

Contact: Janet Green Marbley, 614.387.9390, or Chris Davey, 614.387.9250.