Probate case halted for 2 weeks

WARREN – Testimony in a Probate Court case was delayed while attorneys sift through financial records and await the arrival of more documents from financial institutions to help determine an accurate accounting of a local trust.

Probate Court Judge Thomas A. Swift said in a court entry that the case of the estate of Rudolph and Mary Setinsek will resume Sept. 20. All the parties agreed to cooperate and exchange documentation, according to the entry.

The case resumed Monday with a full day of testimony and was supposed to include Tuesday testimony from the couple’s son, Rudolph Joseph Setinsek, who was removed as successor of the $1.03 million family trust more than three years ago after the court found he committed ”serious breaches of trust,” breached his duty of loyalty and couldn’t give an accurate accounting of the money and expenses involved with the trust.

Attorney David Engler, who represents Setinsek, 61, of Howland, called it a ”probate nightmare” in which his client was forced to pay out money from the trust for a court-ordered audit or investigation, which he said found nothing, along with other court appointments that he called unneeded.

Engler even filed an affidavit of disqualification against Swift last week to have him removed from the case, which Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor denied after finding no bias or prejudice on the allegation against Jeff Hovanic, who was appointed by the court to take over for Setinsek and oversee the trust.

Besides Hovanic, a longtime Champion trustee and municipal court bailiff, no bias or prejudice was found on the part of Swfit, a court magistrate, Guardianship and Protective Services Inc., or any of the other attorneys involved.

The court and attorneys for Setinsek’s father, who has died, and mother, who was found incompetent and remains in a nursing home, question the purchase of property in Mrytle Beach that Setinsek says actually made money for the trust, along with the purchase and sale of a home in Cortland that was bought by Setinsek’s stepdaughter.

Setinsek stands to inherit two-thirds of the trust money and his two daughters the remaining third.

Engler said, meanwhile, he thinks the matter could be settled and a full accounting of the money made by Sept. 20 since about $500,000 in unaccounted funds have now been identified through Setinsek’s records.