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Ohio Indefinitely Suspends Lawyer Convicted of Stealing Opioids

March 18, 2021, 8:54 PM

More than four years after a jury convicted lawyer and former Cleveland Clinic pharmacist James L. Lindon of multiple felonies—including theft, drug possession, and tampering with evidence—the Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspended him Thursday from practicing law in the state.

The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct initially recommended a two-year suspension, with one year stayed on certain conditions, but it modified that decision after learning that Lindon failed to disclose that he had already been disbarred in Michigan as a result of his criminal convictions, the court said.

Lindon’s conduct “began with misconduct in his role as a pharmacist,” but he “continued to violate that duty of honesty and integrity by giving false and misleading testimony in his deposition and in the disciplinary hearing conducted by an arm of this court,” the per curiam opinion said.

Lindon was charged and convicted in Ohio after he was caught on camera stealing various opioid pills while employed by the Cleveland Clinic in 2015.

After representing himself at trial, he was found guilty on all counts, sentenced to two years of “community control,” and fined $750. He was also required to undergo regular drug screening, inpatient drug treatment, and counseling.

Not long after he was convicted, the Lorain County Bar Association alleged that Lindon’s criminal conduct violated the rules of professional conduct, and his license was temporarily suspended. The disciplinary proceedings were paused for nearly two years pending his criminal appeal, the court said.

Lindon will receive no credit for time served under his interim felony suspension, “given the additional delay that was occasioned by his own dishonesty regarding his Michigan disbarment,” the court said.

Although Lindon may eventually petition for reinstatement, he will have to satisfy requirements beyond those specified in Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio to win back his license.

Additional reinstatement conditions imposed by the court require Lindon to enter into a two-year drug-related contract with the Ohio Lawyer Assistance Program, participate in counseling with “a qualified chemical-dependency professional,” and remain drug and alcohol-free.

He must also “waive the doctor-patient privilege with respect to any prescribing physician for the duration of suspension.”

On petitioning for reinstatement, Lindon would need to prove successful completion of a “substance-abuse-treatment program,” and provide a “prognosis” from a qualified professional stating that " he is capable to return to the competent, ethical, and professional practice of law.”

Finally, Lindon would have to pay the costs of his disciplinary proceedings and commit to engaging in “no further misconduct,” the court said.

The case is Lorain Cnty. Bar Ass’n v. Lindon, Ohio, No. 2016-038, 3/18/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Holly Barker in Washington at hbarker@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com