Lawyer accused of stealing from wards gives up law license (OH)

A Columbus lawyer charged with pilfering funds from his wards while serving as a court-appointed guardian is giving up his law license.

Paul S. Kormanik submitted his application to retire or resign to the Ohio Supreme Court on Dec. 17, but it was not unsealed until yesterday.

Disciplinary Counsel Scott Drexel submitted his investigative report of Kormanik to the court under seal yesterday.

Kormanik has pleaded not guilty to 11 felony charges involving engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft from an elderly person and tampering with records for illegally controlling his wards’ bank accounts and stealing their funds.

The Columbus Bar Association last month brought 15 charges of professional misconduct against Kormanik involving misrepresentation of clients, misusing their money and making false statements.

The bar association said in one count that Kormanik’s actions were detailed in a Dispatch series, “Unguarded,” that found flaws in a guardianship system that leave thousands vulnerable to physical, mental and financial abuse.

Franklin County Probate Court rules allow a guardian to control a ward’s finances if the court has appointed that person to take charge of the ward’s estate. Kormanik once boasted he had 400 wards – the most in the nation.

Kormanik, 65, also is accused of stealing from taxpayers by making his wards appear to be indigent and then collecting court-paid fees that, when he was caught, he repaid with money from his wards’ bank accounts.

Kormanik resigned as guardian for all his wards in August after a voluntary psychiatric evaluation found that his “memory impairment and increased symptoms of anxiety/depression” made him unable to care for them.

His attorneys are asking Judge Michael J. Holbrook to postpone his trial, which is scheduled to begin on June 22 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, and to grant a 90-day continuance.


Lawyer accused of stealing from wards gives up law license
Randy Ludlow
May 7, 2015
The Columbus Dispatch