Stark County Bar Association files new allegations against Jackson Twp. attorney

  • In US
  • 2022-09-20 16:43:02Z
  • By The Repository

The Stark County Bar Association has filed additional allegations of inappropriate and unprofessional conduct against a Jackson Township attorney.

Edward Lang D'Atri's actions are highlighted in an amended complaint to the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct alleging an additional $100,000 in misappropriated and missing funds, file fees and an accusation of an improper romantic relationship with a client.

In August, D'Atri was accused of stealing more than $250,000 from a family's trusts and purchasing a $600,000 home in Hills and Dales.

More:Jackson Township attorney accused of stealing more than $250,000 from trust funds

The family filed a civil lawsuit against D'Atri in Stark County Common Pleas Court in July. He has denied wrongdoing in his legal response filed in the case. The lawsuit remains open and is ongoing, court records show.

D'Atri faces new allegations of misappropriated funds

On Sept. 14, the Stark County Bar Association amended its complaint with state investigators to allege D'Atri improperly took funds from two additional trust funds.

According to the complaint, D'Atri moved more than $150,000 from the original family's trust funds to replenish other misappropriated funds. D'Atri also moved another $8,000 from a third party's trust fund to replenish other missing funds, according to the complaint.

D'Atri served as a trustee over the original family's trust funds as well as the other two trusts at the time.

In addition to the missing funds, the bar association's complaint alleges D'Atri sent some clients a retirement letter once it was known he was under investigation for the original July civil case.

According to the complaint, one client went to D'Atri's office to retrieve his legal files and was told it would cost $800 for the paperwork.

The client did not owe an outstanding balance, and told D'Atri a check would be sent over. The client later contacted the bar association and reported the requested file fee.

Legal clients are entitled to their files without cost, according to Richard Milligan, bar counsel for the Stark County Bar Association.

Alleged romance with client

The SCBA contends after the initial family trust complaint was filed on Aug. 3, it learned D'Atri was having a romantic relationship with a 72-year-old client was the executrix over her late daughter's $1.2 million estate.

The client, according to the complaint, is bed-bound and has a deteriorating mental capacity, the complaint said.

On Aug. 29 and Sept 2., D'Atri visited the woman's home and told her to keep the relationship a secret and erase all messages to avoid detection, the complaint stated.

Cellphone text message images were captured by investigators before the woman could delete them, according to the complaint.

The relationship violated the code of conduct between a lawyer and client, according to the bar association.

Filing a complaint against an attorney

The SCBA declined to comment its allegations and complaint against D'Atri, instead, offering advice to those who believe they are a victim of attorney misconduct.

"Any member of the public who believes that they are a victim of attorney theft, embezzlement or misappropriation may contact the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection. The fund reimburses law clients who have lost money or property as a result of dishonest conduct by their lawyer. The fund may be contacted by phone at 1-800-231-1680," Milligan said.

The SCBA states that clients are entitled to receive their file without charge. Anyone who believes that a lawyer has engaged in misconduct should report the matter to the Stark County Bar Association, Milligan said.

Reporting forms are available at the website of the Bar Association

D'Atri could not be reached for comment as his voicemail inbox was full. A message seeking comment was left Monday with his attorney, Craig Pelini.

No criminal charges have been filed.

D'Atri, an attorney for nearly 60 years, has no previous history of discipline, administrative sanctions or suspensions, according to the Board of Professional Conduct.

Reach Cassandra; Follow on Twitter @Cassienist

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Attorney Lang D'Atri faces new allegations of misappropriated funds


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