Clients’ Security Fund Awards Maximum $75,000 To Attorney Fraud Victim

By
Court News Ohio


Updated Tue, Dec 10, 2013 2:19 pm

One Geauga County victim of attorney theft will receive the maximum award – $75,000 – after the Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio voted to reimburse the former client at its quarterly meeting on Friday.

In total, 23 victims of attorney theft were awarded $341,779. The reimbursements involve 12 former or suspended Ohio attorneys who were found to have misappropriated client funds. One deceased attorney was 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 nearly 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 Geauga County reimbursement involved former attorney Charles H. Manning and his conversion of funds belonging to his client. Manning resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on August 17, 2011.

Here are the other awards determined by the board:

  • The board determined that three former clients of former Stark County attorney Agatha M. Williams were eligible for reimbursement of a total of $102,876 as a result of Williams’ failure to provide the services requested. Williams was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on September 24.
  • A former client of former Hamilton County attorney Robert N. Trainor was reimbursed $67,750 as a result of Trainor’s failure to disburse or account for settlement proceeds received on behalf of his client. Trainor resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 13, 2012.
  • A former client of former Lawrence County attorney Marty J. Stillpass was reimbursed $51,658 as a result of Stillpass’ conversion of estate assets. Stillpass resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 13, 2012.
  • Two former clients of former Franklin County attorney Eric J. Strawser were reimbursed a total of $13,000 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.
  • Seven former clients of former Cuyahoga County attorney James W. Westfall Jr. were reimbursed a total of $9,954 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.
  • A former client of former Franklin County attorney Van A. Gander was reimbursed $7,055 as a result of Gander’s failure to refund unearned fees. Gander resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on September 8, 2010.
  • A former client of suspended Franklin County attorney Stephen M. Weiss was reimbursed $6,037 as a result of Weiss’ conversion of client funds. Weiss’ license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on October 9, 2012.
  • Two former clients of disbarred Cuyahoga County attorney Kenneth J. Freeman were reimbursed a total of $5,800 as a result of Freeman’s failure to provide the services requested. Freeman was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on March 6.
  • A former client of suspended Greene County attorney Curtis D. Britt was reimbursed $1,299 as a result of Britt’s failure to refund unearned fees. Britt’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on October 3, 2012.
  • A former client of suspended Cuyahoga County attorney Gary R. Axner was reimbursed $850 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 suspended Franklin County attorney John J. Peden was reimbursed $250 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 deceased Hamilton County attorney William P. Whalen Jr. was reimbursed $250 as a result of Whalen’s failure to refund unearned fees before his death on October 3, 2012.
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