Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded More Than $270,000 by Clients’ Security Fund

The Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio awarded $272,644 to 48 victims of attorney theft, including more than $200,000 to 18 clients of one former attorney at its meeting Friday. Twelve former or suspended Ohio attorneys were found to have misappropriated client funds. One retired attorney and two deceased attorneys were also involved in the claims presented to the board.

Created in 1985 by the Ohio Supreme Court to reimburse victims of attorney theft, embezzlement, or misappropriation, the fund is supported entirely by attorney registration fees. Ohio has 44,483 attorneys engaged in the active practice of law. Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of those attorneys is involved in CSF claims.

Clients who believe they have sustained financial losses resulting from attorney misconduct should contact the fund at 614.387.9390 or toll-free in Ohio at 1.800.231.1680.

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

The board determined that five clients of former Adams County attorney Michelle Wickerham were eligible for reimbursement of a total of $6,149 as a result of her failure to provide the services requested and theft by deception. Wickerham was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on June 14.

The board determined that three former clients of deceased Allen County attorney Robert B. Blackwell were eligible for reimbursement of a total of $1,799 paid to Blackwell for services that he failed to provide before his death on April 27, 2011.

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

  • A former client of former attorney Leonette F. Circirella was reimbursed $250 as a result of Circirella’s failure to provide the services requested. Circirella was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on September 25.
  • A former client of former attorney Bryan S. Freeman was reimbursed $1,360 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.
  • Three former clients of disbarred attorney Shondra Longino were reimbursed a total of $6,170 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.
  • A former client of former attorney Donald S. Nance was reimbursed $740 as a result of Nance’s failure to provide the services requested. Nance’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on November 19, 2009.
  • A former client of former attorney Henry Novak was reimbursed $2,000 as a result of Novak’s failure to provide the services requested. Novak resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on October 20, 2010.
  • Two former clients of former attorney Kevin T. Toohig were reimbursed a total of $26,732 as a result of Toohig’s failure to account for client funds. Toohig was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on November 15.
  • A former client of deceased attorney James M. Wilsman was reimbursed $5,000 as a result of Wilsman’s failure to provide the services requested before his death on April 15, 2011.

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

  • A former client of retired attorney James Ddumba was reimbursed $5,000 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.
  • Eighteen former clients of former attorney Eric J. Strawser were reimbursed a total of $205,856 as a result of Strawser’s failure to provide the services requested and conversion of client funds. Strawser resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on October 21, 2011.

Six former clients of suspended Hamilton County attorney Curtis D. Britt were reimbursed a total of $5,333 as a result of Britt’s failure to provide the services requested. Britt’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on October 3.

A former client of suspended Huron County attorney Charles P. Derby was reimbursed $355 as a result of Derby’s failure to provide the services requested. Derby’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on January 17.

A former client of suspended Lucas County attorney Asad S. Farah was reimbursed $750 as a result of Farah’s failure to provide the services requested. Farah’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on May 20, 2010. However, Farah’s suspension was stayed on the condition that Farah commits no further misconduct.

Three former clients of suspended Medina County attorney Eric D. Hall were reimbursed a total of $5,150 to due to his failure to provide the services requested. Hall’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on March 1 for a term of 24 months with 6 months stayed.

MOST SHARED