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March 9, 2010
Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded More Than $93,000 by Clients' Security Fund

The Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio (CSF) awarded $93,494 to 34 victims of attorney theft at its meeting Friday. Twenty former or suspended Ohio attorneys were found to have misappropriated client funds.

To access more information about the disciplinary cases against some of these attorneys, please visit the Supreme Court of Ohio’s online docket.

Clermont County

The board of commissioners reimbursed $3,000 to a former client of deceased attorney Sharon C. Baird. Before her death, Bard failed to complete the services requested and failed to refund the fee. Ms. Baird died on June 2, 2008.

Cuyahoga County

Five former clients of deceased attorney David H. Drucker were reimbursed a total of $6,600 as a result of Mr. Drucker’s failure to complete the services requested. Mr. Drucker died on June 24, 2008.

A former client of former attorney James L. Major Jr. was reimbursed $1,900 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.

Two former clients of suspended attorney Howard V. Mishler were reimbursed a total of $7,499 as a result of Mr. Mishler’s failure to provide the services requested. Mr. Mishler was suspended from the practice of law in Ohio on April 23, 2008.

A former client of suspended attorney Dennis J. Polke was reimbursed $1,000 as a result of Mr. Polke’s failure to provide the services requested. Mr. Polke was suspended from the practice of law in Ohio on Jan. 22, 2009.

A former client of former attorney Cynthia D. Smith was reimbursed $240 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.

A married couple, formerly clients of Attorney Justin Smith, was awarded $7,378.46. Mr. Smith was publicly reprimanded by the Supreme Court on Nov. 19, 2009.

Fairfield County

Two former clients of former attorney Steven E. Zigan were reimbursed a total of $9,500 as a result of Mr. Zigan’s failure to perform the work requested. Mr. Zigan was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on May 1, 2008.

Franklin County

Two former clients of suspended Franklin County attorney Thomas J. Broschak were reimbursed $3,500 as a result of Mr. Broschak’s failure to provide the services requested. Mr. Broschak was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Ohio on May 15, 2008. 

A former client of suspended Franklin County attorney Madry L. Ellis was reimbursed $750 as a result of Mr. Ellis’ failure to provide the services requested. Mr. Ellis’ license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on Oct. 16, 2008.

A former client of former attorney William Gardner was reimbursed $300 as a result of Mr. Gardner’s failure to complete the services requested. Mr. Gardner resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 18, 2009.

A former client of Christopher G. Gueli was reimbursed $2,804 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.

Hamilton County

The board determined that four former clients of suspended Hamilton County attorney Kenneth L. Lawson were eligible for reimbursement from the CSF. The board reimbursed a total of $20,600 to Mr. Lawson’s former clients. Mr. Lawson’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on July 9, 2008.

Henry County

A former client of former attorney Mark D. Schnitkey was reimbursed $1,228 as a result of Mr. Schnitkey’s failure to provide the services requested. Mr. Schnitkey resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Aug. 30, 2007.

Mahoning County

A former client of former attorney Mark S. Colucci was reimbursed $2,500 as a result of Mr. Colucci’s failure to provide the services requested. Mr. Colucci resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Dec. 2, 2004.

Montgomery County

Three former clients of former attorney Charles E. Bursey II were reimbursed a total of $7,029 as a result of Mr. Bursey’s failure to provide the services requested. Mr. Bursey was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Dec. 2, 2009.

Preble County

A former client of suspended attorney Keith J. Brown was reimbursed $1,873 as a result of Mr. Brown’s failure to provide the services requested.

Stark County

The board reimbursed former clients of two Stark County attorneys.

A former client of former Stark County attorney Michael S. Russell was reimbursed $768 as a result of Mr. Russell’s failure to provide the services requested. Mr. Russell resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Oct. 3, 2008.

A former client of former Stark County attorney Edward S. Asper was reimbursed $525 as a result of Mr. Asper’s failure to provide the services requested. Mr. Asper resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Sept. 15, 2008.

Summit County

The board reimbursed a total of $14,500 to three former clients of deceased Stark County attorney Lawrence R. Smith. The board found that Mr. Smith failed to complete the services for which he had been paid. Mr. Smith died on June 17, 2008.

The CSF was created in 1985 by the Supreme Court 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 42,000 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.