Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Steubenville Attorney Suspended After Federal Fraud Conviction

The Ohio Supreme Court today indefinitely suspended a Steubenville attorney convicted of a federal felony for his role in fraudulently obtaining $140 million in federal contracts targeted to businesses owned by disabled veterans and the economically disadvantaged.

In a unanimous per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court stated that Michael J. Marshall pleaded guilty in August 2017 to one federal felony count of attempt and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The Court suspended his license to practice law on an interim basis after the plea. In today’s ruling, the Court determined that Marshall will receive no credit for time served under the interim suspension, which means that he will have to wait at least two years before he can petition the court for reinstatement to the practice of law.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Conduct charging that Marshall committed two ethical violations for his role in the scheme that defrauded the federal government.

Attorney Part of Business that Misled Government
In 2015, Marshall was indicted along with Brandt Stover, Stephen M. Powell, and Nichole Northcraft for crimes related to falsifying information that allowed four businesses to qualify for programs intended to assist veterans and the disadvantaged. The crimes were alleged to have taken place from 2003 to 2014.

Marshall’s role in the scheme included joining Stover as employees in a business named Braun Enterprises, which participated in a Small Business Administration (SBA) program for minority business owners. The program required the company’s president, Dave Patterson, to maintain at least a 51 percent ownership and be the primary manager. Federal investigators found Patterson knew little about the company and that Stover ran it.

Marshall and Stover started another company a year later called Rainbow Tech, named after Terrence Rainbow, who was a cousin to Powell and Northcraft. Rainbow had no control over the company, which participated in the SBA program, and investigators determined it was owned and operated by Marshall, Stover, Powell, and Northcraft.

Veterans Used in Scheme
Marshall and Stover later formed Braun Technology Solutions, which listed disabled veteran Robert Sizemore as its owner. Because Sizemore’s disability prevented him from running the company, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) required a legally designated caregiver run the company. But the former company janitor appointed to run the company on Sizemore’s behalf was not designated as his caregiver as required by the VA.

Investigators determined the companies committed wire fraud by certifying and recertifying the companies annually through a web-based system.

Marshall was sentenced to three years of probation and assessed $250,000. He has paid the full amount to the federal government.

Board Finds Violations
The professional conduct board found Marshall participated in the conspiracy to submit false information to the SBA and VA to obtain funding that neither he nor the three other partners were qualified to receive.

The board found that he violated the rule prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in an illegal act and that he engaged in activities that involved dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. The board recommended the Court indefinitely suspend Marshall and give credit for time served under the interim suspension.

The Court found that Marshall acted with a dishonest and selfish motive and that his actions spanned for more than 11 years. Because he “arguably diverted more than $140 million in federal contracts away from other small businesses that actually qualified for the SBA and VA programs,” he does not deserve any credit for the time served, the Court concluded.

2018-0809. Disciplinary Counsel v. Marshall, Slip Opinion No. 2018-Ohio-4147.

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