A Cuyahoga County lawyer convicted of workers’ compensation fraud and who owes additional than $950,000 in restitution was suspended from the follow of law for two a long time by the Supreme Court docket of Ohio these days.
Robert Fitz of Westlake has been under an interim suspension since 2019, when the Supreme Court received observe of his conviction. In a unanimous for each curiam viewpoint, the Courtroom imposed the two-yr suspension with no credit for time served through the interim suspension. If Fitz applies for reinstatement, he need to present “proof of his substantial, continuing efforts” to fork out restitution to the point out.
Lawyer Owns Various Cleaning Enterprises
Since 1991, Fitz acquired workers’ compensation coverage from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Payment for 12 housecleaning businesses. In 1996, he acquired protection for 1 business, RCF Licensing, but stopped paying out rates for the protection in 2003. Bureau investigators began analyzing Fitz’s deficiency of payment and encouraged him it was unlawful to run a enterprise with no good workers’ compensation protection.
Fitz replied that he was striving to have his coverage reinstated. In 2013, the bureau identified that Fitz experienced many workers’ payment procedures for his providers that experienced lapsed or been cancelled. The bureau consolidated the procedures and presented Fitz with a payment system to capture up premiums he owed. Fitz did not bring the guidelines into compliance.
In 2017, Fitz was charged in Franklin County Typical Pleas Court docket with workers’ compensation fraud and two other related crimes for not spending the premiums. Beneath R.C. 2913.48(A)(7), “[n]o individual, with function to defraud or being aware of that the individual is facilitating a fraud, shall do any of the adhering to: Fail to safe or manage workers’ payment protection as required by Chapter 4123 of the Revised Code with the intent to defraud the bureau of workers’ compensation.”
He pleaded no contest to a person of the misdemeanor costs and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, which was suspended, and requested to pay out the bureau $2,000 in restitution.
Nonpayment Continued Just after Conviction
In 2018, the bureau investigated Fitz all over again and found out he unsuccessful to retain protection for yet another a person of his housecleaning businesses. The bureau calculated he owed $936,344 in rates for his associated enterprise.
In 2019, he was billed in Cuyahoga County Frequent Pleas Court with 3 felony counts of workers’ payment fraud. He pleaded responsible to a person count, and the point out dismissed the other counts. He was sentenced to five years of local community control and requested to pay $965,235 in restitution.
Fitz appealed the judgment. Centered on the conviction, the Workplace of the Disciplinary Counsel submitted a grievance in opposition to Fitz with the Board of Expert Perform in August 2020. But the matter was stayed pending Fitz’s attractiveness. In late 2021, an appeals court docket affirmed his sentence, and disciplinary proceedings resumed.
Fitz afterwards agreed to fork out $250 a thirty day period in restitution. As of February 2022, he even now owed much more than $958,000.
Fitz and the disciplinary counsel stipulated that Fitz violated two specialist perform principles – committing an illegal act that displays adversely on his honesty and trustworthiness, and partaking in perform involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
Supreme Court Viewed as Sanction for Lawyer
Although Fitz admitted to the violations, the functions could not agree on a encouraged sanction. Fitz requested the board to suggest to the Court that he be suspended for two decades with credit score for time served less than the interim suspension. The disciplinary counsel advisable an indefinite suspension with credit for time served.
The board proposed a sanction that fell among the parties’ suggestions. The board noted that the bureau experienced a appreciable decline from Fitz’s steps and that he has paid a reasonably small amount of the restitution owed. The board also noted that Fitz engaged in misconduct for pretty much 13 a long time, and it established a two-12 months suspension with no credit for time served in the course of the interim suspension was the proper sanction.
The Courtroom agreed with the board’s recommendations. The Court also billed Fitz for the cost of the disciplinary proceedings.
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