Saturday, September 03, 2016

Another Long-Time Lawyer Ends Career In Disgrace; Resigns From State Bar In 2015 For Stealing Clients' Money From Lawsuit Settlements, Now Belted With 41 Felony Charges; State Court's Client Protection Fund Coughs Up $189K In Partial Reimbursements To Victims

In Cleveland, Ohio, cleveland.com reports:
  • A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted a former Cleveland attorney [] for stealing money from his clients.

    Paul Kaufman, 67, is charged with 41 felony counts including theft and forgery. He resigned from his law practice in 2015 after numerous clients filed complaints with the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection.(1) Victims were awarded $189,000 out of the fund.(2)

    Kaufman, of Shaker Heights, now faces prison time if convicted of stealing from 15 clients. The attorney won the clients more than $215,000 in a class action settlement with drug maker Merck in 2009, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor says, but failed to distribute the funds to the plaintiffs in the settlement.

    "Attorneys like Paul Kaufman are why so many people look down on the legal profession," Assistant County Prosecutor James A. Gutierrez wrote in a news release. "He chose to ignore his responsibilities as a lawyer and to cheat his clients, and now he is going to have answer for those crimes."

    The Ohio Supreme Court suspended Kaufman's law license last year. In its order, the court writes that Kaufman "has engaged in conduct that violates the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct and poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public."
Source: Former Cleveland attorney indicted for stealing money from clients.
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(1) The Ohio Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection is an agency of the Supreme Court of Ohio created to reimburse victims of attorney theft, embezzlement or misappropriation. The fund is not taxpayer funded, but is funded by registration fees paid by every Ohio attorney. The Board of Commissioners of the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection determines which claims are eligible for reimbursement. After the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection staff investigates the claims, they are submitted to the Board for a determination of eligibility.

The maximum award amount is $75,000 per client. Clients who believe they have sustained financial losses resulting from theft, embezzlement or misappropriation by an Ohio attorney should contact the fund at 614.387.9390 or toll free in Ohio at 1.800.231.1680.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that attempt to clean up the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

(2) See Fund for Client Protection Reimburses $189,000 to the Victims of One Attorney (A total $422,220 was paid to 35 victims of attorney theft as well as the clients of four deceased attorneys during the calendar quarter).

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