Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded More Than $279,000

By
Bret Crow

Dateline
Updated Tue, Sep 10, 2013 4:11 pm

Three Lucas County victims of attorney theft will receive $141,035, more than half the total amount that the Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio voted to reimburse at its quarterly meeting on Friday.

In total, 36 victims of attorney theft were awarded $279,392. The reimbursements involve 19 former or suspended Ohio attorneys who were found to have misappropriated client funds. Four 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 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.

Access more information about the disciplinary cases against some of these attorneys via the Supreme Court’s online docket.

The Lucas County theft victims were former clients of deceased attorney James W. Van Deilen who failed to account for or disburse client settlement funds before his death on May 21, 2011.

Here are the other awards determined by the board.

The board approved reimbursing former clients of two Adams County attorneys.

  • One client of disbarred attorney Michelle Wickerham was reimbursed $1,500 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, 2012.
  • Two former clients of former attorney Gregory A. Carroll were reimbursed a total of $680 as a result of Carroll’s failure to provide the services requested. Carroll resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on May 18, 2012.

The board determined that a former client of suspended Columbiana County attorney Richard A. Luther was eligible for reimbursement of $3,099 paid to Luther for services that he failed to provide. Luther’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on September 19, 2012.

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

  • A husband and wife and another client of suspended attorney Gary R. Axner were reimbursed a total of $2,397 as a result of Axner’s failure to provide the services requested. Axner’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on February 14.
  • A former client of disbarred attorney William M. Crosby was reimbursed $14,167 as a result of Crosby’s failure to disburse or account for settlement proceeds received on behalf of his clients. Crosby was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on June 28, 2012.
  • A former client of disbarred attorney Kevin T. Toohig was reimbursed $60,000 as a result of Toohig’s failure to disburse or account for settlement proceeds received on behalf of his client. Toohig was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on November 15, 2012.
  • A former client of suspended attorney James W. Westfall Jr. was reimbursed $920 as a result of Westfall’s failure to provide the services requested. Westfall resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on August 30.

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

  • A former client of former attorney Kenneth R. Boggs was reimbursed $1,000 as a result of Boggs’ failure to provide the services requested. Boggs resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on September 6, 2012.
  • A former client of suspended attorney Eva C. Gildee was reimbursed $11,291 as a result of Gildee’s failure to disburse or account for funds belonging to her client. Gildee’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on December 5, 2012.
  • A former client of suspended attorney Regina L. Hilburn was reimbursed $1,100 as a result of Hilburn’s failure to provide the services requested. Hilburn’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on December 3, 2012.
  • A former client of suspended attorney Ray J. King was reimbursed $1,000 as a result of King’s failure to provide the services requested. King’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on March 6, 2012.
  • A former client of suspended attorney John J. Peden was reimbursed $175 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, 2012.
  • A former client of former attorney Eric J. Strawser was reimbursed $7,000 as a result of Strawser’s failure to provide the services requested. Strawser resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on October 21, 2011.

Nine former clients of deceased Greene County attorney Paul W. Barrett were reimbursed a total of $8,845 as a result of Barrett’s failure to refund unearned fees before his death on April 21, 2012.

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

  • A former client of disbarred attorney Vlad Sigalov was reimbursed $10,000 as a result of Sigalov’s failure to disburse or account for settlement proceeds received on behalf of his client. Sigalov was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on August 28, 2012.
  • A former client of deceased attorney William P. Whalen Jr. was reimbursed $1,200 as a result of Whalen’s failure to refund unearned fees before his death on October 3, 2012.

A former client of suspended Huron County attorney George C. Ford III was reimbursed $3,500 as a result of Ford’s failure to provide the services requested. Ford’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on September 5, 2012.

A former client of former Lawrence County attorney Marty J. Stillpass was reimbursed $1,250 as a result of Stillpass’ failure to provide the services requested. Stillpass resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 13, 2012.

Two former clients of suspended Medina County attorney Eric D. Hall were reimbursed a total of $2,200 as a result of Hall’s failure to provide the services requested. Hall’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on March 1, 2012 for a term of two years, with six months stayed.

The board determined that one client of suspended Stark County attorney Agatha Martin Williams was eligible for reimbursement of $2,733 as a result of Williams’ failure to provide the services requested. Williams’ license to practice of law in Ohio was suspended on April 19, 2012, following her felony conviction.

A former client of deceased Summit County attorney Edward C. Weber was reimbursed $3,000 as a result of Weber’s failure to refund unearned fees before his death on May 29, 2012.

A former client of suspended Trumbull County attorney Gary L. Braun was reimbursed $1,300 as a result of Braun’s failure to provide the services requested. Braun’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on November 8, 2012.

 

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