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March 6, 2012
Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded More Than $135,000 by Clients' Security Fund

The Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio (CSF) awarded $135,205.24 to 45 victims of attorney theft at its meeting Friday. Twenty former or suspended attorneys were found to have misappropriated client funds. One retired attorney and two deceased attorneys were also involved in 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 37,000 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.

Learn more about the disciplinary cases against some of these attorneys via the Ohio Supreme Court’s online docket.

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

A former client of disbarred attorney Dea L. Character was reimbursed $11,982 as a result of Character’s theft by deception. Character was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on June 23, 2011.

A former client of disbarred attorney Bryan S. Freeman was reimbursed $5,500 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, 2011.

Two former clients of suspended attorney Blaine L. Gottehrer were reimbursed a total of $2,699 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.

Two former clients of disbarred attorney Shondra Longino were reimbursed a total of $999 as a result of Longino’s failure to provide the services requested. Longino was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on April 6, 2011.

Three former clients of former attorney Henry Novak were reimbursed a total of $22,500 as a result of Novak’s failure to provide the services requested and failure to distribute funds held for the benefit of his client. Novak resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on October 20, 2010.

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

A former client of former attorney Philip Lon Allen was reimbursed $7,500 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.

Eight former clients of retired attorney James Ddumba were reimbursed a total of $13,461 as a result of Ddumba’s failure to provide the services requested. Ddumba permanently retired from the practice of law in Ohio on August 11, 2010.

Former clients (a husband and wife) of suspended attorney Charles B. Clovis were reimbursed a total of $4,000 as a result of Clovis’ failure to provide the services requested. Clovis’ license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on May 5, 2010.

A former client of former attorney Van A. Gander was reimbursed $8,084 as a result of Gander’s failure to provide the services requested. Gander resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on September 8, 2010.

Gallia County
A former client of disbarred attorney James R. Henry was reimbursed $1,600 as a result of Henry’s failure to provide the services requested. Henry was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on December 22, 2010.

Geauga County
A former client of former attorney Charles H. Manning was reimbursed $5,700 as a result of Manning’s theft of funds belonging to his client. Manning resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on August 17, 2011.

The board awarded reimbursement to former clients of two former Hamilton County attorneys.

A former client of former attorney Robert K. Larson Jr. was reimbursed $600 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 August 20, 2010.

A former client of former attorney Gregory G. Spitz was reimbursed $560 as a result of Spitz’s failure to provide the services requested. Spitz resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on December 22, 2010.

Highland County
A former client of former attorney John W. Slagle was reimbursed $14,604 as a result of Slagle’s failure to provide the services requested. Slagle resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on February 25, 2009.

The board determined that former clients of two Huron County attorneys were eligible for reimbursement from the CSF.

Four former clients of suspended attorney Charles P. Derby were reimbursed a total of $3,162 as a result of Derby’s failure to provide the services requested. Derby was suspended from the practice of law in Ohio on January 17, 2012.

A former client of deceased attorney Gregory A. Shell was reimbursed $11,300 as a result of Shell’s failure to complete the services before his death on August 16, 2008.

Lake County
A former client of suspended attorney Bartley J. Troy was reimbursed $2,270 as a result of Troy’s failure to provide the services requested. Troy’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on September 29, 2011.

Lucas County
A former client of former attorney William A. Garrett was reimbursed $550 as a result of Garrett’s failure to provide the services requested. Garrett resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on November 24, 2010.

The board awarded reimbursement to former clients of two Mahoning County attorneys.

Eight former clients of suspended attorney Warren G. Pritchard were reimbursed a total of $8,422 as a result of Pritchard’s failure to provide the services requested. Pritchard’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on January 11, 2012.

A former client of former attorney Joseph R. Rafidi was reimbursed $4,000 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.

Pike County
The board reimbursed $2,500 to a former client of suspended attorney Sherry D. Davis due to her failure to provide the services requested. Davis’ license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on November 29, 2011.

Sandusky County
A former client of former attorney Andrew C. Lockshin was reimbursed $1,000 as a result of Lockshin’s failure to provide the services requested. Lockshin resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on November 24, 2010.

Summit County

The board determined that two former clients of deceased attorney Christopher M. Steiner were eligible for reimbursement totaling $2,212.24 as a result of Steiner’s failure to complete the services requested before his death on July 25, 2010.

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