Bloomberg Law
June 16, 2020, 7:59 PM

Indiana Disbars Lawyer Who Spent Assistant’s Payroll Withholding

Melissa Heelan Stanzione
Melissa Heelan Stanzione

An Indiana attorney who spent money withheld for his assistant’s social security contribution and neglected a client’s case has been disbarred by the state’s highest court.

Steven T. Fulk never “properly appeared or responded” to the resulting disciplinary complaint and “refused to meaningfully participate” in the disciplinary proceedings, the Indiana Supreme Court said on Monday.

In early 2018, Fulk failed to tell a client about a hearing relating to his divorce, and the client was found in contempt of court, the high court said. The client alleged he later tried to contact Fulk but couldn’t, and asked the court to vacate its contempt order. The matrimonial court refused to do so.

The Indianapolis attorney also failed to “substantively respond” to the disciplinary commission’s investigation into that matter, the high court noted.

The second instance of misconduct recounted by the high court related to Fulk’s assistant, who worked for him from 2005 to 2018. While withholding money from her earnings for social security, the attorney never turned it over to the federal government and instead used it for himself, the court said.

When the assistant discovered this in 2017, Fulk said he’d fix the problem but never did and didn’t respond to the disciplinary commission’s probe into the matter either.

The state Supreme Court agreed that Fulk failed to keep his client reasonably informed about his case; knowingly failed to respond to the disciplinary commission; committed a criminal act, and acted dishonestly.

He’s “shown absolutely no remorse for, or insight into, his misconduct,” it said, and disbarred him immediately.

The case is In re Fulk, 2020 BL 220588, Ind., No. 19S-DI-277, 6/15/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan Stanzione in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; Andrew Harris at