Archive for the ‘attorney faces discipline’ Category

Ohio attorney faces discipline in billing probe

September 14, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A private southwest Ohio attorney who was appointed by various courts to handle the cases of people who couldn’t afford a lawyer is being disciplined after an audit found he had submitted bills for working 29 hours in a single day and more than 20 hours per day in other occasions.

The Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/19MfgEl ) reported Thursday that a disciplinary action against Dayton attorney Ben Swift has been filed with the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners. The state’s highest court will determine Swift’s sanction.

Courts are allowed to hire private attorneys when public defenders aren’t available and the state and county pay their bills. Swift at some point had handled nearly 850 cases.

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Ohio attorney faces discipline in billing probe

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Attorney who admitted theft still has law license

August 27, 2013

Since November, attorney Randy Wynn has been telling pretty much everybody he was a thief.

He has fessed up to the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office, the state Office of Lawyer Regulation, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge and the Journal Sentinel, which in January reported that Wynn acknowledged pocketing client funds. In an interview last week, the 60-year-old lawyer said the amount he took in the past few years is “estimated to be under $1 million, over $500,000 but spread over hundreds of clients.”

“I’m expecting to be charged, and I’ll probably be in prison,” Wynn testified last month in a bankruptcy hearing for one of his former clients. “What I did was wrong. I deserve whatever punishment I get.”

A partial accounting that Wynn gave to regulators in May “showed that Wynn had taken $784,734 from numerous clients,” Keith Sellen, director of the Office of Lawyer Regulation, wrote in a report filed with the state Supreme Court last month. “Wynn estimated his … partial accounting was ‘90% complete.'”

Still, Wynn remains a licensed lawyer — he participated in a courtroom conference call just a month ago — and is in the center of a testy bankruptcy fight in which his testimony has gotten a former client in hot water. During the bankruptcy hearing, Jonathan Goodman, the bankruptcy attorney for Wynn’s former client, referred to Wynn as a “lying snake” and a “lying weasel.”

Wynn’s case provides insight into the glacial speed of Wisconsin’s secretive attorney regulatory process, a system in which the time between the receipt of a complaint about a lawyer and court action on that complaint can take years.

Wynn is not the only attorney who has kept his law license after admitting to committing felonies involving clients. Grafton lawyer Richard Kranitz remains a member of the state bar, even though three months ago he agreed in federal court to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Kranitz was arrested in December 2011; this month he was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

Like Wynn, Kranitz is listed as being in good standing on the state bar’s lawyer search website as well as the one operated by the Office of Lawyer Regulation, the policing arm of the state Supreme Court.

On June 19 — about seven months after Wynn says he first told regulators and prosecutors of his thievery — the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed Wynn’s petition for voluntary revocation of his law license.

The petition is pending before the state Supreme Court.

William Weigel, the OLR’s litigation counsel, defended the pace of the agency’s investigations.
“The lawyer regulation process is rules-based, accurate and thorough,” Weigel wrote in an email. “… If OLR is perceived sometimes as not publicly jumping on a case from the get-go, well, we place a premium on getting it done right rather than rushing to get it done quickly.”

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Attorney who admitted theft still has law license

‘Bad mothering’ attorney faces state discipline

August 13, 2013

Court ruled Barrington lawyer bilked client of $500,000

An attorney who once helped his adult children sue their mother for emotional damages because of a poorly chosen birthday card and a subpar homecoming dress now faces disciplinary action for writing the same two children into an elderly client’s will and allegedly stealing nearly $500,000 from the client’s estate.

Steven Miner, a Barrington attorney who filed a “bad mothering” lawsuit against his ex-wife on behalf of his son and daughter in 2009, is accused by Illinois’ attorney disciplinary body of violating attorney rules by drafting a will for a client that benefited Miner’s own family as well as stealing money from the client.

His attorney, George Collins, said Miner denies the disciplinary charges and plans to contest them.
“He didn’t steal any money,” Collins said. “He didn’t do anything wrong.”

The disciplinary matter arose from Miner’s relationship with client Glenn Burren that dated to the 1970s. Miner dated Burren’s daughter for a time, and later Burren dated Miner’s mother, according to an appeals court ruling. Miner remained close with Burren, calling him “Pops,” the court said.

In 2004, Burren signed a typewritten will handed to him by Miner after attending a birthday party for Miner’s son, according to the ruling. Under the will, 40 percent of Burren’s estate went to Miner’s two children and the rest to Burren’s three children, the court said.

Later, Burren signed papers giving Miner power of attorney and handed over to the lawyer checks totaling nearly $500,000.

After Burren’s death in 2007, his children contested the will filed by Miner and later took the attorney to court to recover the $500,000 that had vanished from their father’s estate.

Miner told a Cook County judge that he cashed the checks at his bank and then returned the cash to Burren, but Judge Susan Coleman didn’t buy it, saying Miner had presented “no independent credible evidence” that he returned the money.

The judge ordered Miner to repay the estate nearly $500,000 plus more than $200,000 in interest. An appeals court recently upheld that ruling.

Miner was previously disciplined by the state in 1998 after forging the names of the children of a client on a property deed and instructing his wife to notarize it.

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‘Bad mothering’ attorney faces state discipline