Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded More Than $286,000 by Clients’ Security Fund

The Board of Commissioners of the Clients’ Security Fund of Ohio awarded a maximum amount of $75,000 to a victim of attorney theft and two other $50,000 awards at its meeting Friday. All told, the board awarded $286,299 to 58 victims of attorney theft as 22 former or suspended Ohio attorneys were found to have misappropriated client funds. One retired attorney and two 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 37,000 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.

A former client of former Lake County attorney Myron D. Wheatley was reimbursed the maximum award amount of $75,000 as a result of Wheatley’s conversion of client funds. Wheatley resigned from the practice law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on June 3, 2011.

The board determined that 25 former clients of former Adams County attorney Michelle Wickerham were eligible for reimbursement of a total of $50,145 as a result of her failure to provide the services requested and theft by deception. Wickerham was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on June 14.

Two former clients of disbarred Franklin County attorney C. Mark Kiesling were reimbursed a total of $50,000 as a result of Kiesling’s failure to refund client funds obtained by deception. Kiesling was permanently disbarred from the practice law in Ohio on April 12, 2010.

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

  • A former client of former attorney Walter P. Bubna was reimbursed $5,200 as a result of Bubna’s failure to provide the services requested. Bubna resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on December 22, 2010.
  • A former client of former attorney William M. Crosby was reimbursed $15,056 as a result of Crosby’s failure to account for client funds. Crosby was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on June 28.
  • A former client of former attorney Bryan S. Freeman was reimbursed $3,000 as a result of Freeman’s failure to provide the services requested. Freeman was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on April 5, 2011.
  • A former client of suspended attorney Frank X. Gresley was reimbursed $830 as a result of Gresley’s failure to provide the services requested. Gresley’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on April 24.
  • A former client of former attorney John P. Hildebrand Jr. was reimbursed $1,800 as a result of Hildebrand’s failure to provide the services requested. Hildebrand was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on December 1, 2010.
  • A former client of suspended attorney Thomas R. Kelly was reimbursed $1,200 as a result of Kelly’s failure to provide the services requested. Kelly’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on June 20.
  • A former client of disbarred attorney Shondra Longino was reimbursed $200 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 disbarred attorney Howard V. Mishler was reimbursed $2,500 as a result of Mishler’s failure to complete the services requested. Mishler was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on December 14, 2010.
  • Three former clients of former attorney Henry Novak were reimbursed a total of $7,600 as a result of Novak’s failure to provide the services requested. Novak resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on October 20, 2010.

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

  • Four former clients of retired attorney James Ddumba were reimbursed a total of $5,965 as a result of Ddumba’s failure to provide the services requested. Ddumba permanently retired from the practice of law in Ohio on August 11, 2010.
  • Two former clients of suspended attorney SaKeya M. Stubbs were reimbursed a total of $13,100 as a result of Stubbs’ failure to provide the services requested. Stubbs’ license to practice of law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on February 15, 2011.

A former client of former Gallia County attorney James R. Henry was reimbursed $600 as a result of Henry’s failure to provide the services requested. Henry was permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio on December 22, 2010.

Three former clients of former Huron County attorney Thomas C. Eschrich were reimbursed a total of $2,820 as a result of Eschrich’s failure to provide the services requested. Eschrich resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on October 20, 2010.

The board awarded reimbursement to former clients of three Lucas County attorneys.

  • A former client of suspended attorney James F. Dettinger was reimbursed $25,000 as a result of Mr. Dettinger’s failure to refund client funds obtained by deception. Dettinger’s license to practice of law in Ohio was suspended on April 2, 2009. However, Dettinger’s suspension was stayed on the condition that Dettinger commits no further misconduct. 
  • A former client of former attorney Karyn McConnell Hancock was reimbursed $3,233 as a result of her conversion of client funds. McConnell Hancock resigned from the practice of law in Ohio, with discipline pending, on April 29, 2008.
  • Former clients (a husband and wife) of suspended attorney Robert A. Woodley were reimbursed $1,250 as a result of Woodley’s failure to provide the services requested. Woodley’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on June 7.

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

  • A former client of suspended attorney Brian P. Kish was reimbursed $1,500 as a result of Kish’s failure to provide the services requested. Kish’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on January 11.
  • A former client of suspended attorney Warren G. Pritchard was reimbursed $15,500 as a result of Pritchard’s failure to refund client funds obtained by deception. Pritchard’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended indefinitely on January 11.

The board reimbursed $2,500 to a former client of suspended Medina County attorney Eric D. Hall due to his failure to provide the services requested. Hall’s license to practice law in Ohio was suspended on March 1 for 24 months with 6 months stayed.

A former client of suspended Montgomery County attorney George T. Dearfield was reimbursed $800 as a result of Dearfield’s failure to provide the services requested. Dearfield’s license to practice of law in Ohio was suspended on October 19, 2011. However, Dearfield’s suspension was stayed on the condition that he commits no further misconduct.

The board determined that a former client of deceased Scioto County attorney Roger L. Clark was eligible for reimbursement of $1,000 as a result of Clark’s failure to complete the services requested before his death on December 17, 2010.

The board determined that former clients (a husband and wife) of deceased Summit County attorney Christopher M. Steiner were eligible for reimbursement of $500 as a result of Steiner’s failure to complete the services requested before his death on July 25, 2010.

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