The United States Law Week

Lawyer Suspended for Plotting to Help Woman Avoid Testifying

May 28, 2020, 6:28 PM

An Ohio lawyer found to have taken cash as part of a plan to help a woman leave town so she wouldn’t have to testify against one of his clients was indefinitely suspended by the state’s highest court.

Jared Lee Wilson “committed a felony with the intent to thwart or hamper the prosecution of a felony domestic-violence case and committed a series of ethical violations involving six other clients—some of which predated his criminal conduct,” the Ohio Supreme Court said.

Wilson pleaded guilty to telecommunications fraud in 2017 and was sentenced to a year of community control, according to the court. The case was related to an incident involving a client who’d been arrested for assaulting his pregnant girlfriend, who had worked for Wilson.

The woman at one point asked Wilson how she could ensure that her boyfriend didn’t go to prison. “Wilson told her to recant her police statement and dodge any subpoena by leaving town,” the court said.

The client called Wilson on a recorded line and asked him about the cost for Wilson’s help in making that happen, the court said. After his arrest for accepting payment, Wilson told police the cash was for attorney fees, the court said.

The court’s professional conduct board found that Wilson’s actions violated an ethics rule prohibiting committing illegal acts, dishonesty, and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, the court said.

The board also found Wilson violated rules on communicating with clients, trust accounts, and diligence in six other client matters.

Aggravating factors include that Wilson had been suspended due to attorney-registration issues and he’d engaged in a pattern of misconduct that harmed vulnerable clients, the court said.

But he “made a timely, good-faith effort to make restitution and to rectify the consequences of his misconduct, demonstrated a cooperative attitude toward the disciplinary process, and submitted several letters attesting to his good character and reputation,” the court said.

And he’s undergone rehabilitation, including completion of an intensive outpatient treatment program for substance abuse, and he’s undergone mental-health counseling, it said.

The court decided that an indefinite suspension was warranted in light of all the factors. Wilson will have to submit proof that he’s complied with his contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program when he applies for reinstatement, it said.

The case is Disciplinary Counsel v. Wilson, 2020 BL 195478, Ohio, No. 2019-1720, 5/27/20

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com

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