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Sept. 21, 2011
Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded More Than $440,000 by Clients' Security Fund

The Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio (CSF) awarded $443,481 to 46 victims of attorney theft at its meeting Friday. Twenty former or suspended attorneys were found to have misappropriated client funds. The cases of two deceased attorneys were also involved in the claims presented to the board.

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 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.

Click here to access more information about the disciplinary cases against some of these attorneys via the Supreme Court’s online docket.

The board determined that five former clients of suspended Columbiana County attorney Richard V. Hoppel were eligible for reimbursement of a total of $4,710. Hoppel failed to refund unearned fees belonging to his clients, and his license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on June 8.

The board determined that former clients of three Cuyahoga County attorneys were eligible for reimbursement.

Three former clients of former attorney Dea Character were reimbursed a total of $60,890 as a result of Character’s conversion of client funds. Character was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on June 23.

Three former clients of former attorney Bryan S. Freeman were reimbursed a total of $17,395 as a result of Freeman’s failure to provide the services requested. Freeman was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on April 5.

A former client of suspended attorney Blaine L. Gottehrer was reimbursed $1,299 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.

The board awarded reimbursement to former clients of four Franklin County attorneys. 

A former client of suspended attorney Kenneth R. Boggs was reimbursed $9,700 as a result of Boggs’ failure to refund unearned fees. Boggs’ license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on June 7.

A former client of suspended attorney Madry L. Ellis was reimbursed $1,750 as a result of Ellis’s failure to provide the services requested. Ellis’ license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on Oct. 16, 2008.

A former client of former attorney Christopher G. Gueli was reimbursed $1,415 as a result of Gueli’s failure to provide the services requested. Gueli was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Sept. 25, 2008.

A former client of deceased attorney Paige A. Martin was reimbursed $6,542 because Martin was unable to complete the services requested before her death on July 17, 2009.

The board determined that a former client of disbarred Gallia County attorney James R. Henry was eligible for reimbursement of $1,100. Henry failed to refund unearned fees belonging to his client. Henry was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on Dec. 22, 2010.

The board determined that former clients of three Hamilton County attorneys were eligible for reimbursement.

A married couple and former clients of former attorney Robert K. Larson Jr. were reimbursed a total of $2,450 as a result of Larson’s failure to provide the services requested. Larson resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Aug. 20, 2010.

Three former clients of suspended attorney Kenneth L. Lawson were eligible for reimbursement of legal fees paid to Lawson for services that he failed to provide. The board reimbursed a total of $3,450 to Lawson’s former clients. Lawson’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on July 9, 2008.

A former client of suspended attorney Robert L. Schwartz was reimbursed the maximum award amount of $75,000 as a result of Schwartz’s conversion of funds belonging to his client. On May 7, 2009, Schwartz pleaded guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and filing a false income tax return in connection with his handling of his client’s affairs. As a result of his conviction, Schwartz’s license to practice law was suspended on Aug. 5, 2010.

The board reimbursed a total of $117,280 to two former clients of former Highland County attorney John W. Slagle. Slagle failed to account for settlement funds belonging to his clients. Slagle resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Feb. 25, 2009.

Two former clients of deceased Huron County attorney Gregory A. Shell were reimbursed a total of $5,050 because Shell was unable to complete the services requested before he died on Aug. 16, 2008.

A former client of former Lucas County attorney William A. Garrett was reimbursed $7,195 as a result of his conversion of client funds. Garrett resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Nov. 24, 2010.

A former client of suspended Mahoning County attorney Warren G. Pritchard was reimbursed $1,300 as a result of Pritchard’s failure to refund unearned fees. Pritchard was suspended from the practice of law in Ohio on Nov. 10, 2009.

A former client of suspended Montgomery County attorney Craig W. Saunders was reimbursed $1,225 as a result of Saunders’ failure to refund unearned fees. Saunders’ license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on July 22 following his felony conviction.

Two former clients of former Ross County attorney Rebecca E. Bobb were reimbursed a total of $76,800 as a result of Bobb’s conversion of client funds. Bobb resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Sept. 24, 2010.

Three former clients of former Sandusky County attorney Andrew C. Lockshin were reimbursed a total of $4,800 as a result of Lockshin’s failure to refund unearned fees. Lockshin resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on Nov. 24, 2010.

A former client of suspended Stark County attorney Glenn M. Schiller was reimbursed $1,199 as a result of his failure to refund unearned fees. Schiller’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on Sept. 23, 2009.

A former client of suspended Summit County attorney Michelle A. Smithern was reimbursed $3,500 as a result of Smithern’s failure to refund unearned fees. Smithern’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on March 3, 2010.

Ten former clients of former Tuscarawas County attorney Willard K. Hanner Jr. were reimbursed a total of $39,431 as a result of Hanner’s failure to refund unearned fees. Hanner resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 16.

Contact: Janet Green Marbley, 614.387.9390, or Bret Crow, 614.387.9250.