WARREN - Local attorney and one-time assistant county prosecutor Patrick Donlin is turning in his credentials to practice law rather than face a disciplinary hearing that was scheduled for Thursday morning at the Trumbull County Courthouse.
Donlin's resignation or retirement, along with an affidavit, has been sent to the Office of Attorney Services with the Ohio Supreme Court, according to a spokesman with the Trumbull County Bar Association.
Jonathan Coughlan, disciplinary counsel with the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, confirmed the Thursday hearing had been canceled after the board received notification that Donlin would resign his law license with discipline pending rather than appear at the hearing.
A seven-count complaint against Donlin deals mostly with his IOLTA (Interest On Lawyers Trust Accounts), in which on at least five occasions, Donlin withdrew purported fees from the accounts in excess of what he had received from his clients or in excess of what he was due from his clients, according to the complaint filed with the Supreme Court.
Attorney Charles Richards, who represents Donlin, didn't return calls seeking comment on the matter.
Between at least March 2008 and April 2011, Donlin, who began practicing law in 1971, did not maintain client ledgers as required by the Rules of Professional Conduct.
''On June 5, 2008, and July 9, 2008, (Donlin) deposited personal funds into his IOLTA, which he had received in the form of rent payments from a tenant. Shortly after depositing these funds, (Donlin) withdrew these funds, plus an additional $400 of either personal or client money that was in his IOLTA to make his personal mortgage payments,'' the complaint states.
On at least five occasions, he withdrew purported fees from his IOLTA in excess of what he had received from his clients or in excess of what he was due from his clients, according to the complaint.
Besides six specific misappropriations from the account, the complaint details a federal lawsuit Donlin brought against the Girard Police Department and others alleging civil rights complaints against Jaimin, Kendra and Barndon Perkins and Eric Pugh, who were allegedly injured during a police raid at the Perkins home in 2001.
In June 2002, the United States of America was substituted as the sole defendant in the matter and $7,000 was offered to settle the matter. All the plaintiffs accepted the offer.
In February 2005, Donlin deposited the proceeds of the settlement into his IOLTA.
''To date, (Donlin) has not disbursed the proceeds of the Perkins/Pugh settlement to any of the Perkinses or Mr. Pugh. Although these funds should have been held in trust for the Perkinses and/or Mr. Pugh, (Donlin) misappropriated these funds from his IOLTA over time and used them for his own personal or business purposes,'' the complaint states.
By November 2006, the balance in the account was $1,128, and on May 12, 2009, the balance in the accounts was $10.81. On May 27, 2010, the balance in the account would have been negative had the bank honored a $100 check that Donlin had written to himself, according to the complaint.
After serving as a part-time assistant county prosecutor from 1971 to 1984, Donlin sued the county and Prosecutor Dennis Watkins after he was fired when he declared himself a candidate to run against his own boss in a Democratic primary.
At the time, Watkins gave Donlin the option of resigning and called the firing justifiable since he depended on his employees' loyalty and confidentiality. Donlin also named the county auditor, treasurer and commissioners as defendants and demanded $120,000 in back sick leave, vacation time and damages. The suit, filed in March of 1990, was dismissed by Donlin after about two months.
Besides running unsuccessfully for prosecutor, Donlin lost by a 66 to 34 percent margin in the Democratic primary of 1999 in a chance to unseat Girard Municipal Judge Michael Bernard.
In 1996, Donlin avoided discipline in the form of a written reprimand and instead was cleared by the Ohio Supreme Court for failing to notify an elderly woman in writing that he was no longer representing her in an accident-injury case.