CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Courtroom on Wednesday indefinitely suspended a former Northeast Ohio legal professional who served 18 months in federal jail for his function in a Ponzi scheme that bilked buyers out of a mixed $17 million.
Mark George should full his supervised launch, take a three-hour authorized course on dealing with shopper accounts and pay $51,000 to a fund for victims of dishonest attorneys earlier than he can apply to have his legislation license reinstated.
He is likely one of the individuals to plead responsible to federal fees in 2016 within the scheme that centered across the Akron-based firm KGTA Petroleum Ltd.
The corporate’s founders and namesakes — Kenneth Grant and Thomas Abdallah — stated they might purchase crude oil and refined gas merchandise at deeply discounted costs and resell the merchandise to patrons within the petroleum business for a considerable revenue, in line with courtroom data. The lads, with the assistance of two brokers, used guarantees of 5-percent month-to-month returns to persuade dozens of individuals to take a position greater than $20 million, prosecutors stated.
Grant and Abdallah didn’t use the cash to purchase petroleum however as a substitute bought a Mercedes Benz, a ship and made funds on a high-end house. Additionally they made greater than $200,000 in money withdrawals, in line with courtroom data.
George, who had beforehand represented one of many males in a authorized matter, took $2,500 a month from the corporate to cross among the investments by his legal professional escrow account to make the funds look respectable to buyers, courtroom data stated.
The Securities and Alternate Fee filed a lawsuit in 2014, and the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace in Cleveland filed fees in 2015. Grant and Abdallah had been every sentenced to greater than six years in jail.
George pleaded responsible to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and obtained a to 21-month jail sentence. He served about 16 months behind bars, spent a 12 months in a midway home. He moved to house confinement in Could 2019.
The decide ordered him and the opposite 5 defendants to pay again greater than $17 million in restitution collectively. The decide additionally ordered him to repay greater than $140,000 to account for his earnings from his function within the scheme, data say.
The courtroom’s Board of Skilled Conduct decided that George was not a key participant within the firm and did no authorized work for them. He testified at a listening to in September 2019 that he didn’t initially know KGTA was illegitimate, however finally witnessed impropriety and left. He then stated he returned to the corporate each month after being assured his issues had been addressed. He additionally upped his month-to-month price from $2,500 to $four,000, in line with the courtroom.
The board famous that George, now 63, confirmed “profound remorse” through the disciplinary listening to, and supplied no excuses for his conduct.
“I don’t know if I ought to be allowed to observe legislation once more as a result of so many individuals obtained damage,” George stated through the listening to, in line with courtroom data.
The courtroom selected to not completely disbar George, citing his real regret, his comparatively minor function within the fraud and a number of other letters of assist filed on George’s behalf, together with from former U.S. Congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar, former Cuyahoga Frequent Pleas Courtroom Decide Jeff Hastings and Independence Metropolis Council Member James P. Trakas that detailed George’s Orthodox Christian religion and his household’s prominence in Northeast Ohio’s Lebanese group.
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