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Indiana Lawyer Disbarred for Misuse of Client Funds

May 7, 2020, 4:01 PM

An Indiana lawyer who neglected clients and converted their funds was disbarred by the state high court.

“The nature of Respondent’s misconduct, coupled with his multiple instances of noncooperation and his failure to participate in these proceedings, persuade us that disbarment is the appropriate sanction here as well,” the Indiana Supreme Court said Wednesday.

In 2019, Scott J. Lennox pleaded guilty to the felonies of theft and fraud on a financial institution as a result of his misuse of client funds, the court said.

The Warsaw, Ind., lawyer never responded to a November 2019 complaint filed by the state disciplinary commission regarding his actions, the court said.

The commission said that he failed to maintain appropriate records for two trust accounts and made several unauthorized withdrawals of client funds, converting those funds for his personal use, according to the court.

Lennox also made several unauthorized withdrawals and converted client funds from a third trust account, the court said.

The Indiana high court agreed with the commission that Lennox violated numerous ethics rules, including those on safeguarding client property, communicating with clients, and committing criminal acts.

It noted that he was under separate orders of suspension for noncooperation and for continuing legal education noncompliance.

“Misappropriation of client funds is a grave transgression,” the court noted in citing a 1995 opinion of the court.

“It demonstrates a conscious desire to accomplish an unlawful act, denotes a lack of virtually all personal characteristics we deem important to law practice, threatens to bring significant misfortune on the unsuspecting client and severely impugns the integrity of the profession,” it added, and ordered Lennox disbarred.

The case is In re Lennox, 2020 BL 168857, Ind., No. 9S-DI-628, 5/6/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan Stanzione in Washington at mstanzione@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com