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Victims of Attorney Theft Awarded Over $102,000

The Board of Commissioners of the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection recently reimbursed $102,177.83 to 12 victims of attorney theft.

Three former or suspended Ohio attorneys were determined to have engaged in dishonest conduct resulting in financial losses to their clients. Three deceased attorneys were also involved in claims presented to the board.

Butler County
A former client of Andrew T. Simmons was reimbursed $10,788.47 for Simmons’ failure to account for funds held in escrow. Simmons was a licensed California attorney who was registered with the Supreme Cout of Ohio to practice pro hac vice. The designation authorizes out-of-state lawyers to provide legal services in Ohio on a limited basis. Prior to his death in October, Simmons was suspended from practicing law in Ohio in June 2022.

Cuyahoga County
A prior client of Phyllis Elaine Brooks was reimbursed $1,000 for Brooks not providing services requested. Brooks has been suspended from the practice of law since September.

Delaware County
Four previous clients of Robert Morris Owens were reimbursed a total of $31,500 for him not completing paid legal services. Owens was suspended from the practice of law in March 2022. The Supreme Court revoked his law license permanently months later in September, designating him as resigned with discipline pending.

Erie County
Four former clients of Henry William Kishman were reimbursed a total of $56,289.36. Kishman didn’t account for funds he agreed to invest for his clients or hold them in escrow. He passed away in September 2021.

Franklin County
A past client of Nicole Marie Churchill was reimbursed a total of $1,900 for unfulfilled services prior to her death in July 2022.

Ross County
A prior client of Michael Jerome Feltis was reimbursed $700 because the former attorney didn’t return the unused portion of the client’s retainer. The Supreme Court permanently revoked Feltis’ license to practice law in September 2022.

The Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, formerly known as the Clients’ Security Fund, was created in 1985 by the Supreme Court of Ohio to reimburse victims of attorney theft, embezzlement, or misappropriation. The fund has returned over $25 million to people since its inception.

Ohio has nearly 44,000 attorneys engaged in the active practice of law. Less than 1% are involved in claims reimbursed by the fund.

Law clients who believe they sustained financial losses resulting from attorney theft, embezzlement, or misappropriation, should contact the fund by calling 614.387.9390 or 1.800.231.1680 toll-free in Ohio.