Ohio Supreme Court slaps Youngstown attorney with sixth suspensi - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Ohio Supreme Court slaps Youngstown attorney with sixth suspension

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

The Ohio Supreme Court has slapped another suspension against a Boardman attorney who is already under indefinite suspension

The court announced on Wednesday that Dennis DiMartino has been suspended for an interim period after failing to respond to a complaint filed against him by a client.

According to court records, the client paid DiMartino a $10,000 retainer to represent him in a case involving five charges of gross sexual imposition.

Investigators say DiMartino failed to inform the client that he was already the subject of prior disciplinary proceedings.

The client eventually hired another attorney to represent him but filed a complaint against DiMartino with the Mahoning County Bar Association.

This is the sixth suspension for DiMartino, who was last suspended in September and declared ineligible to petition for reinstatement for at least two years.

The Mahoning County Bar Association charged him with violating the rules governing the behavior of Ohio lawyers while the Supreme Court was still considering his fourth report of professional misconduct.

DiMartino was first sanctioned with a six-month stayed suspension in 1994 for violating several rules, including failing to respond to client inquiries, and failing to forward a client’s portion of settlement proceeds. In 2007, he was given a one-year stayed suspension for neglecting a client matter.

In 2010, the Court found he engaged in dishonest conduct by falsely representing on an out-of-state marriage application that he had never been married although his Ohio divorce was pending at the time.

Because that misconduct occurred while his 2007 stayed suspension was in effect, the Court made its 2007 sanction an actual one-year suspension from practicing and added a six-month suspension that ran concurrently.

In 2016, the Court found he committed several acts of misconduct in two client matters and imposed an indefinite suspension with conditions that if met would allow him to apply for reinstatement.

While the fourth misconduct case was pending, the Mahoning County Bar Association charged him with neglecting a client matter and failing to cooperate in the ensuing disciplinary investigation.

In 2014, George M. Joseph paid DiMartino $1,800 to help him secure personal property he believed was wrongfully withheld by a former girlfriend.

DiMartino promised to file the necessary court pleadings but failed to take any action to help his client. He also did not respond to Joseph’s repeated phone calls and office visits, and when Joseph phoned to ask him to refund his fee, DiMartino did not comply.

Joseph filed a grievance with the bar association, and DiMartino initially failed to respond to the bar association’s letters. He later agreed to refund Joseph’s money.

During the bar association’s investigation, DiMartino revealed he did not deposit Joseph’s money into a required client trust account but instead placed the money into his general business account even though he did not complete any work on the case.

The Board of Professional Conduct, the bar association, and DiMartino stipulated that he violated several rules, including failing to act with reasonable diligence in representing a client and keeping a client reasonably informed about the status of the matter.

He also did not follow the requirement of holding a client’s fund in an interest-bearing account separate from the lawyer’s own accounts, and not cooperating with a disciplinary investigation.

When considering a recommended sanction, the board noted DiMartino had been disciplined before and initially failed to cooperate, but that after the bar association filed its complaint, DiMartino cooperated and admitted to most of the allegations.

The board also considered that DiMartino lacked a selfish or dishonest motive, made restitution to Joseph, and submitted numerous letters from local judges and attorneys who indicated he was an excellent attorney.

It also found he had submitted sufficient evidence that he had been receiving treatment for depression-related mental disorders, and a treating psychologist suggested the grievances against him were directly related to his mental disorders.

The board suggested that the type of misconduct DiMartino committed in his representation of Joseph would typically warrant a suspension, and perhaps a stayed suspension.

However, in the context of having been disciplined on four prior occasions, the board recommended an indefinite suspension with additional conditions that ensure he continues his mental health treatment.

The Court agreed with the proposal, conditioning any future reinstatement on DiMartino’s compliance with the prior conditions imposed on him in his fourth disciplinary case, his submission of proof that he continued treatment with a qualified health-care professional, complied with his contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, and proved he completed continuing legal education in law office management, specifically in the area of client trust accounts.

The Certification of Default issued in connection with DiMartino's latest suspension may be read here

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