Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded More Than $250,000 by Clients’ Security Fund

One Wood County victim of attorney theft will receive a maximum $75,000 award and 11 clients of a former Franklin County attorney will receive $138,850, after a meeting Friday of the Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio.

In total, 31 victims of attorney theft were awarded more than $250,000. The reimbursements involve 10 former or suspended Ohio attorneys that were found to have misappropriated client funds and four deceased attorneys who 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 more than 44,000 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 $75,000 award concerns deceased attorney William C. Caughey, who did not account for client funds before he died on December 10.

Former attorney Eric J. Strawser’s failure to provide the services requested and conversion of client funds resulted in the $138,850 in reimbursements. Strawser resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on October 21, 2011.

Here are the other awards determined by the board.

Two clients of former Adams County attorney Michelle Wickerham were deemed eligible for reimbursement of $2,927 as a result of her failure to provide the services requested. Wickerham was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on June 14.

The board determined that a former client of deceased Allen County attorney Robert B. Blackwell was eligible for reimbursement of $500 paid to Blackwell for services that he did not provide before his death on April 27, 2011.

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

  • A former client of suspended attorney Shawn J. Brown was reimbursed $3,702.84 as a result of Brown’s failure to provide the services requested. Brown’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on October 13, 2011.
  • A former client of disbarred attorney Shondra Longino was reimbursed $600 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 deceased attorney Eric R. Waite was reimbursed $3,000 because Waite did not provide the services requested before his death on February 13, 2011.
  • Three former clients of suspended attorney James W. Westfall Jr. were reimbursed $1,598 as a result of Westfall’s failure to provide the services requested. Westfall’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on November 21.

A former client of suspended Delaware County attorney Peggy Maguire was reimbursed $600 as a result of Maguire’s failure to provide the services requested. Maguire’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on March 29.

A former client of former Erie County attorney Richard D. Koch was reimbursed $1,481.68 as a result of Koch’s failure to account for client funds. Koch resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on September 28, 2011.

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

  • Three former clients of suspended attorney John J. Peden were reimbursed $5,354.25 as a result of Peden’s failure to provide the services requested. Peden’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on December 7.
  • Three former clients of disbarred attorney SaKeya M. Stubbs were reimbursed $1,385 as a result of Stubbs’ failure to provide the services requested. Stubbs was permanently disbarred from the practice law in Ohio on November 29.

A former client of deceased Scioto County attorney Roger L. Clark was reimbursed $14,493.98 because Clark did not account for client funds before his death on December 17, 2010.

A former client of former Summit County attorney Thomas F. Bean was reimbursed $1,500 as a result of Bean’s failure to provide the services requested. Bean resigned from the practice law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on March 13.

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