Bad Lawyers

Robert Searfoss III Charged with Stealing from Trust
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Robert Searfoss

Summary: A former Ohio attorney is standing trial for stealing money from a client’s trust fund.

The trial of a former Bowling Green attorney has begun. The attorney, Robert Searfoss III, is charged with stealing $435,000 from a trust that he was the trustee over.

  
What
Where


Searfoss appeared before Judge Alan Mayberry of the Wood County Court of Common Pleas. He was indicted on 14 felony counts, four of which are first-degree felonies for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. There are six counts of felony theft of either third, fourth, or fifth-degree felonies. The last four counts are third-degree felonies for money laundering.

During the opening statement, Wood County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tom Matuszak said, “This case is about an attorney who was drowning in personal debt” that used his client to address his debt problem.  He explained that Searfoss convinced a client, who was in the midst of divorce proceedings, to transfer $500,000 in trust funds from Florida to Bowling Green. There the client, Eric Walker, could invest in rental properties in 2015. Walker’s grandmother has set up the trust to help pay for his personal expenses.

Matuszak claims that Walker “was essentially groomed and conditioned” by Searfoss. When Searfoss put papers in front of Walker to sign, he would without reading the documents “because he trusted his attorney.” Searfoss then convinced Walker to make him the trustee of his trust and then informed him he could no longer be his attorney.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!




Instead of investing the money in the trust into rental properties, Searfoss used the money to buy a house in Perrysburg. His family then lived in the house without paying rent. He also used the money to pay down a home equity line of credit on another home in Bowling Green, to pay child support owed in the Michigan, to pay back taxes, and to buy two vehicles.

Searfoss claims that Walker told him to do everything even though he was taking thousands of dollars from the trust to spend on himself. “Not one penny was for the benefit of Mr. Walker.” There is also evidence that Searfoss researched the laws on trusts so “he knew exactly what he could and could not do, and yet he went ahead and fleeced his own client.”



The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation obtained documents from Searfoss that prosecutors contend “doesn’t add up to consent” from Walker. Matuszak said, “It adds up to deception” so “can you truly consent if you’ve been deceived?”

Searfoss’s defense attorney, Richard Kerger, said in his opening statement that Walker and his ex-wife were fighting over the trust during their divorce. Walker was allegedly concerned that others would come after the money so he masterminded a plan to loan the money to Searfoss. The deal was that Searfoss would pay back Walked over the next 40 years at 2 percent interest. Kerger said, “That will protect the assets and help (Searfoss).”

Walker signed the paperwork authorizing the deal before a notary. Kerger claims that Searfoss has paid the loan “every year it was due.” Kerger argued that Walker knew was he was doing at the time so just because he changed his mind does not make it a scam or something wrong.

Walker testified Monday that he never knew the financial problems Searfoss was in. He just signed the documents Searfoss put before him and was not given copies to keep. He said, “I trusted what I was signing was on the up and up. He hadn’t given me any reason not to.”

The 40-year-old surrendered his law license in September to the Ohio Supreme Court as part of an unrelated disciplinary proceeding.

Do you think anyone would agree to a deal where they only made two percent interest over 40 years? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about attorneys accused of stealing from clients, read these articles:

Photo: toledoblade.com



 

Interesting Legal Sites You May Like


BCG FEATURED JOB

Locations:

Keyword:



Search Now

Mid-level Litigation Associate Attorney

USA-MD-Baltimore

Baltimore office of our client seeks mid-level litigation associate attorney with 3+ years of experi...

Apply Now

Litigation Associate Attorney

USA-SC-Columbia

Columbia office is seeking a commercial litigation attorney with 2-4 years of experience.

Apply Now

Junior Employment Litigation Attorney

USA-CA-San Francisco

San Francisco office is seeking an attorney with 2-3 years of employment litigation, class action or...

Apply Now

Licensed Default Associate Attorney

USA-VA-Dulles

Dulles office of our client seeks licensed default associate attorney with experience. The candidate...

Apply Now

RELEVANT JOBS

Hotline & Training Managing Attorney (IMMIGRATION)

USA-NY-New York City

The Hotline & Training Services Managing Attorney will guide, develop, and supervise the Hotline sta...

Apply now

Litigation paralegal

USA-TX-Dallas

We are looking to immediately hire a responsible, highly organized, self-motivated litigation parale...

Apply now

Attorney

USA-TX-Dallas

Associate Attorney – 7 to 10 Years’ Experience - Dallas/Fort Worth   ...

Apply now

Associate Attorney

USA-TX-Dallas

Associate Attorney – 3 to 5 Years’ Experience - Dallas/Fort Worth   ...

Apply now

SEARCH IN ARCHIVE

To Top