Four Columbus-area lawyers are facing upcoming hearings on professional misconduct before Board of Professional Conduct panels, the Ohio Supreme Court announced last week.
Most of the allegations against the attorneys have to do with the improper handling of client funds.
Gahanna attorney Bradley Keating, in a complaint filed by the Columbus Bar Association, is accused of mishandling funds in three client matters by failing to create and maintain accurate records of funds held in an Interest on Lawyers Trust Account, failing to properly identify and distribute funds to a third party, failing to respond to requests for information and by providing misleading information to another attorney.
Other allegations against Keating include failures to inform his clients of a lack of liability insurance and engaging in conduct adversely reflecting upon his fitness to practice law.
Columbus lawyer Timothy Dougherty faces disciplinary charges for allegedly accepting thousands of dollars in legal fees and an autographed copy of The Who’s “Quadrophenia” album in exchange for minimal work on a client’s case.
Dougherty also faces charges from the Board of Professional Conduct accusing him of allowing a suspended lawyer to provide legal advice to his client.
John Patterson, executive director of the Accountancy Board of Ohio, is also accused of improperly handling funds.
Though he hasn’t been engaged in the practice of law since 2000, the Disciplinary Counsel is accusing Patterson of lying to investors about a trust account and improperly placing personal funds into that account.
Columbus lawyer Trent Turner also faces charges related to mishandling client funds. He is the only one of the four accused of engaging in sexual relations with a client, which is forbidden by the Rules of Professional Conduct.
According to the complaint filed by the Disciplinary Counsel, Turner failed to respond to a female client’s requests for information regarding a motion for judicial release to be filed on behalf of a third party.
The complaint states that Turner collected a $1,000 flat fee for the work, which he failed to deposit into his client trust account.
The counsel alleges that, following a hearing, Turner and client exchanged a kiss and later that night, the lawyer invited the client to his home, where they engaged in sexual intercourse.
Between May 2015 and May 2016, Turner allegedly sent more than 100 personal and sexually explicit text messages to his client and asked her to “go away with him” during a phone call.
After the relationship deteriorated, a serious of argumentative text messages indicated that the client demanded her money back and expressed her discontent that Turner had done little to nothing in the matter for which she hired him, along with a civil case.
According to the counsel’s complaint, Turner never refunded the client’s money.
The four attorneys, along with a Westerville lawyer, are among 17 cases throughout Ohio filed in December and January slated for formal disciplinary proceedings this year.
Attorneys are given an opportunity to file an answer to the allegations against them before their cases are assigned to a three-member panel of the Board of Professional Conduct.
If they fail to provide an answer, the Ohio Supreme Court may suspend their law license.
As of publication, none of the Columbus-area cases have been scheduled for hearings.