Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Portage County Attorney Suspended for Illegally Thwarting Client’s Prosecution

The Ohio Supreme Court today indefinitely suspended a Portage County attorney for committing a felony with the intent of thwarting the domestic-violence prosecution of one of his clients, and for several serious ethical violations made while representing other clients.

The Supreme Court unanimously suspended Jared L. Wilson of Ravenna from the practice of law and six justices agreed to place conditions on his reinstatement to the practice of law. Wilson voluntarily placed his law license on inactive status in January 2017. The Court imposed an interim suspension of his license in December 2017 after he pled guilty to a felony telecommunications fraud charge, and he remained suspended since that time.

In a per curiam opinion, a majority of the Court granted Wilson credit for time served under the interim suspension, and the Court ruled it will consider requiring him to serve a period of monitored probation if he is reinstated.

Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French, R. Patrick DeWine, and Michael P. Donnelly agreed to the sanctions. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Patrick F. Fischer and Melody J. Stewart stated they would not grant Wilson credit for time served.

Lawyer Agrees to Coordinate Witness ‘Disappearance’ for a Price
Wilson employed a former client, identified in court documents as K.P., as his secretary. While working for Wilson, K.P. became romantically involved with one of Wilson’s clients, identified as K.R.

Sometime after K.P. stopped working for Wilson, she reported to police that K.R. had assaulted her. Because K.P. was pregnant at the time, police charged K.R. with felony domestic violence.

K.P. contacted Wilson and asked how she could ensure that K.R. did not go to prison. Wilson told her to recant her statement to police and dodge any subpoena by leaving town. He explained that if she did not appear to testify, the charges would likely be reduced or dismissed.

In October 2016, K.P. asked K.R. for money to buy a plane ticket and said she would be forced to testify against him if he did not help her. Wilson then told K.R. he would help coordinate K.P.’s “disappearance” if K.R. paid him to do it.

Meeting Leads to Arrest
Wilson suggested K.R. meet him for lunch and told K.R. to bring cash. K.R. recorded the conversation, and police apparently were monitoring the meeting. Wilson told K.R. he would accept $1,000 that day, but needed $2,000. K.R. gave Wilson $1,000 and while Wilson was leaving the restaurant, police arrested him. Wilson told police he did not know K.R. was bringing money and that the cash was for attorney fees.

Wilson was indicted by a grand jury for bribery, attempted tampering with evidence, obstructing official business, and telecommunications fraud. In March 2017, Wilson pleaded guilty to telecommunications fraud, a fifth-degree felony, and was sentenced to one year of community control.

K.P. was charged with bribery in the case against K.R. The charges against K.P. and K.R. were dismissed in March 2017, and K.R.'s case file was sealed.

Conviction Leads to Ethics Charges
Based on the conviction and mishandling of six other client matters, the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Conduct, charging Wilson with multiple ethical violations. Those charges included committing an act that reflects adversely on his honesty and trustworthiness; failing to deliver clients funds or other property they were entitled to receive; and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

Although he had withheld funds from clients for several years, Wilson repaid or reached settlements with the clients in 2019, except for $200, which he agreed he still owed one client.

When considering a proposed sanction recommend to the Court, the board acknowledged Wilson’s good-faith efforts to rectify the consequences of his misconduct, and evidence of his completion of an intensive outpatient treatment program for substance abuse and participation in mental-health counseling. The board noted that he signed a contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program (OLAP) in February 2017.

The Court adopted the board’s recommendation that Wilson be indefinitely suspended with credit for time served with the condition that he prove within 60 days that he paid $200 in restitution owed to one of his clients. To be reinstated, Wilson must prove he has complied with his OLAP contract and any treatment recommendations made by a qualified mental-health professional.

2019-1720. Disciplinary Counsel v. Wilson, Slip Opinion No. 2020-Ohio-3050.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

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