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March 8, 2011
Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded More Than $410,000 by Clients' Security Fund

The Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio (CSF) awarded $410,699.98 to 36 victims of attorney theft at its meeting Friday. Twenty-one former or suspended Ohio attorneys were found to have misappropriated client funds. Three deceased attorneys and two retired attorneys were also involved in the claims presented to the board.

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

Butler County

The board determined that a former client of disbarred attorney Karan M. Horan was eligible for reimbursement of a $5,280 fee paid for services that were not provided. Horan was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Aug. 26, 2009.

Cuyahoga County

The board determined that former clients of 10 attorneys were eligible for reimbursement.

A former client of suspended attorney Dea L. Character was reimbursed $1,180 as a result of Character’s failure to provide the services requested. Character was suspended on Oct. 30, 2009, following her felony conviction.

A former client of deceased attorney David H. Drucker was reimbursed $900 as a result of Drucker’s failure to provide the services requested before his death on June 24, 2008.

A former client of suspended attorney Bryan S. Freeman was reimbursed $150 as a result of Freeman’s failure to provide the services requested. Freeman was suspended from the practice of law in Ohio on Jan. 26 pending further disciplinary action.

A former client of former attorney John A. Frenden was reimbursed $3,300 as a result of Frenden’s failure to provide the services requested. Frenden resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Aug. 25, 2009.

A former client of suspended attorney Blaine L. Gottehrer was reimbursed $2,400 as a result of Gottehrer’s failure to provide the services requested. Gottehrer’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on March 17, 2010.

A former client of suspended attorney Frank X. Gresley was reimbursed $935 as a result of Gresley’s failure to provide the services requested. Gresley was suspended from the practice of law in Ohio on Dec. 22, 2010.

Two former clients of disbarred attorney John P. Hildebrand Jr. were reimbursed a total of $825 as a result of Hildebrand’s failure to provide the services requested. Hildebrand was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Dec. 1, 2010.

Four former clients of disbarred attorney Howard V. Mishler were reimbursed a total of $78,258.46 as a result of Mishler’s failure to provide the services requested and failure to distribute funds held for the benefit of his client. Mishler was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Dec. 14, 2010.

A former client of former attorney Cynthia D. Smith was reimbursed $2,200 as a result of Smith’s failure to provide the services requested. Smith resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Oct. 23, 2007.

A former client of former attorney Dale P. Zucker was reimbursed $11,925 as a result of Zucker’s fraudulent investment scheme. Zucker resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 26, 2007. Zucker was also convicted and is currently incarcerated.

Franklin County

The board awarded reimbursement to former clients of three attorneys.

A former client of former attorney Philip L. Allen was reimbursed $20,000 as a result of Allen’s failure to provide the services requested. Allen resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on March 4, 2010.

A former client of deceased attorney Paige A. Martin was reimbursed $6,000 as a result of Martin’s failure to provide the services requested before her death on July 17, 2009.

Three former clients of former attorney Van A. Gander were reimbursed a total of $2,675 as a result of Gander’s failure to provide the services requested and conversion of client funds. Gander resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Sept. 8, 2010.

Gallia County

The board determined that former clients of two former attorneys were eligible for reimbursement.

Two former clients of former attorney James R. Henry were reimbursed a total of $2,278 as a result of Henry’s failure to provide the services requested. Henry was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Dec. 22, 2010.

A former client of former attorney John R. Lentes was reimbursed the maximum award amount of $75,000 as a result of Lentes’ failure to distribute settlement proceeds received on behalf of his client. Lentes was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Dec. 11, 2008.

Greene County

The board determined that former clients of two suspended attorneys were eligible for reimbursement.

A married couple and former clients of suspended attorney Michael P. McNamee were reimbursed $7,239.76 in legal fees improperly accepted by McNamee. McNamee’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on Aug. 7, 2008.

A former client of suspended attorney Craig W. Saunders was reimbursed $1,500 as a result of Saunders’ failure to provide the services requested. Saunders was suspended on Jan. 25, 2010, following his felony conviction.

Hamilton County

A former client of former attorney Darrell Brown was reimbursed $1,090 as a result of Brown’s failure to provide the services requested. Brown resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 2, 2009.

Mahoning County

Two former clients of former attorney Joseph R. Rafidi were reimbursed a total of $2,650 as a result of Rafidi’s failure to provide the services requested. Rafidi resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 24, 2009.

Preble County

The board reimbursed $18,466.76 to two former clients of deceased attorney Herd L. Bennett. Bennett obtained funds from his former clients allegedly under false pretenses and failed to repay the funds before his death on April 9, 2002.

Richland County

A former client of retired attorney Donald Eugene Smith was reimbursed the maximum award amount of $75,000 as a result of Smith’s failure to account for funds deposited with him as trustee of his client’s trust. Smith retired from the practice of law in Ohio on Jan. 29, 1997.

Stark County

Two former clients of former attorney Edward S. Asper were reimbursed a total of $2,897 as a result of Asper’s failure to provide the services requested. Asper resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Sept. 15, 2008.

Summit County

The board determined that a former client of retired attorney Jean Cooper Garrett was eligible for reimbursement of the maximum award amount of $75,000 as a result of her conversion of client funds. Cooper Garrett retired from the practice of law in Ohio on Jan. 9, 2009.

Trumbull County

A former client of suspended attorney Kenneth N. Shaw was reimbursed $12,250 as a result of Shaw’s failure to repay funds obtained from his client. Shaw’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on Sept. 23, 2010.

Wood County

A former client of suspended attorney Dwight D. Heisler was reimbursed $1,300 as a result of Heisler’s failure to provide the services requested. Heisler’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on Oct. 14, 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 43,000 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.