Heirs allege attorney stole their money (IN)

ANDERSON – Indiana State Police are investigating a criminal complaint of theft against Anderson attorney Stephen Schuyler and a disciplinary commission wants his license suspended for not responding to allegations of professional misconduct.

The allegation of theft was made by the heirs of an estate for which Schuyler was the executor.

Ruth Siverling, 84, who lives in the San Francisco area, and two of her children filed a police report through their attorney, Bryce Owens of Pendleton. They allege Schuyler stole their money while acting as executor of the Russell Scott estate.

“I’m still waiting on my money and I shouldn’t have to,” said Ruth Siverling in a telephone conversation. “That money does not belong to Mr. Schuyler – that’s for damn sure.”

Scott, Siverling’s twin brother, died March 7, 2013.

Schuyler had acted as the executor to the Scott estate until February when Magistrate Steve Clase removed him from any cases where he had fiduciary responsibility. Clase’s order removed Schuyler from more than 135 cases.

The Madison County Prosecutor’s Office is also investigating Schuyler for any criminal wrongdoing related to his fiduciary roles.

According to the Indiana State Police, the allegation of theft by Siverling and her family was filed at 8:48 a.m. Monday.

For almost a year, Siverling said, Schuyler refused to return her phone calls about the estate. Siverling said all communication with Schuyler stopped after she wrote several letters to the Madison County courthouse asking for a judicial review of her brother’s estate.

She said Schuyler also refused to send her any of the financial records from her brother’s estate and she was forced to hire Owens to collect her inheritance money from Schuyler. In February, Schuyler wrote checks to Siverling and her children to settle the estate, but only after Owens demanded payment from Schuyler in person.

The checks were returned for insufficient funds, Siverling said.

Owens said he filed the complaint with the state police after the checks bounced.

“I hoped the checks would be made good and not gotten to this point,” he said. “I have exchanged messages with him. The checks have not been made good as of right now.”

Owens said it is “well past” when the heirs should have been paid according to a court order.

On April 14, the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed a petition ordering Schuyler to show cause why he should not immediately be suspended from practice after failing to submit a written response to allegations of professional misconduct.

According to documents filed by the commission, a letter was sent to Schuyler on Feb. 3 that gave him 20 days to respond to the allegations of misconduct. On Feb. 26, Schuyler requested an additional 30 days to respond to the commission, which was granted. A second request on March 5 extended the deadline to March 27.

“As of the date and time of filing of this petition, the Respondent has failed to respond to the demand for a written response,” the petition filed by the commission states.

Sharon Baker, who cared for Scott before he died, said what Schuyler has done to her family regarding the Scott estate is wrong.

“It’s sad what he has put everyone through,” said Baker, who lives in Pendleton. “I don’t want to see my family living out in California to go through all of this. Can you imagine what that is like for her? It’s been very upsetting for the entire family.

“I feel like there has been a lot of fraud and dishonesty.”

Attempts to contact Schuyler for comment were unsuccessful.


In 2008, Stephen Schuyler received a public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission for a violation of the Indiana Professional Conduct Rule. The censure dated back to 2001, when Schuyler represented the estate of Esther Chapman.

According to court documents, Schuyler’s paralegal was accused of writing nine unauthorized checks totaling $34,000 on the estate’s account. In 2002, Schuyler made no effort to ensure a final accounting accurately reflected transactions in the account.

Anderson police investigated, and the paralegal, who resigned in 2003, pleaded guilty to theft. The funds were repaid to the Esther Chapman estate by Schuyler.

The public reprimand was agreed to by all of the justices on the commission with the exception of J. Dickson, who believed “the sanction is inadequate.”

In 2012, Schuyler was again upbraided by the commission after he failed to submit a written response to allegations of professional misconduct. The courts sought to have Schuyler immediately suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for failing to cooperate with its investigation.

Details regarding the allegations are confidential, but on Feb. 4, 2013, the commission filed a motion to dismiss the proceeding “as moot” after Schuyler provided the information that had been requested. He was required to pay $517.49 to reimburse the commission for expenses.


Heirs allege attorney stole their money
Traci Moyer/Ken de la Bastide
April 20, 2015
The Herald Bulletin