Cincinnati Attorney Who Falsified Documents Indefinitely Suspended
A Cincinnati attorney who was sentenced by a federal court to five years probation for creating and submitting fraudulent documents to the Internal Revenue Service and who fabricated an e-mail during litigation against her and her firm has been suspended indefinitely from the practice of law today by the Ohio Supreme Court.
In a 6-1 decision, the court ruled that Suzanne Prieur Land engaged in conduct that reflects adversely on her trustworthiness and engaged in deceitful, dishonest, or fraudulent conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice and adversely reflects on her fitness to practice law.
While working in a large law firm in 2010, Land created and submitted fraudulent documents to the IRS on two separate occasions. She was trying to cover up mistakes she made during the drafting of estate-planning documents that cost her clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax benefits.
Also in early 2010, Land fabricated an e-mail in order to boost her credibility in a malpractice lawsuit where she was facing accusations that she did not properly advise her client. During a disciplinary hearing, Land testified that she felt overwhelmed by the pressure from her firm and challenges to her professional skills, and that the scrutiny led her to greater alcohol consumption and self-medication with anti-anxiety drugs she purchased over the Internet.
Land pled guilty to corruptly attempting to obstruct and impede the due administration of the IRS in 2012. She was sentenced to five years probation, including three years of home detention, and ordered to pay penalties of $75,000, abstain from alcohol use, and continue mental-health treatment as deemed necessary by her probation officer.
The court, in today’s per curiam (not authored by a specific justice) opinion, adopted the findings of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline. The court agreed with the board’s recommendation that Land be suspended indefinitely from practicing law and that she cannot petition for reinstatement until she completes her federal probation. Also, upon her petition for reinstatement, Land must present proof that she has satisfactorily completed, or is in compliance with, her Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program contract, and that she continues to receive treatment from a therapist until the therapist decides it is no longer needed.
The majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French, and William M. O’Neill.
Justice Terrence O’Donnell dissented, stating that he would start the suspension after the federal probation has been served.
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