High court suspends lawyer
A representative said Olivito lied and misled his clients.
By MICHELE C. HLADIK
COLUMBUS -- Atty. Richard Olivito, who has practiced law in Youngstown and Warren, was suspended from practicing law for at least one year by the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday for neglecting a client and forging signatures on legal documents.
The high court gave Olivito a two-year suspension with one of those years stayed if he commits no other misconduct during that time period.
"[Olivito's] pattern of misconduct, his many false statements, including those made during the bar investigation and the disciplinary process, his lack of complete cooperation in the disciplinary process, and his apparent lack of understanding of and remorse for his misconduct convince us that the board's recommended sanction in this matter is appropriate," the decision read.
In spring 2003, Olivito reportedly accepted a fee to represent a couple in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case but did not file the matter with the bankruptcy court until October of that year.
Olivito also reportedly forged the clients' signatures on bankruptcy documents eventually filed with the court.
Columbus attorney Paula Brown, who represented Olivito before the high court in a February hearing, said he should only receive a public reprimand or a six-month stayed suspension.
Brown told the court it was an "unfortunate case" and involved the "simple neglect of a legal matter."
Ronald Slipski, who represented the Mahoning County Bar Association, told the court, however, it was actually a web of continual lies and misleading statements and actions.
"Contrary to [Olivito's] assertion, his conduct here involves egregious wrongdoing beyond the forging of his clients' signatures," the high court's decision read. "Indeed, in addition to forging his clients' signatures to their bankruptcy petition under penalty of perjury, respondent made numerous misrepresentations to the bankruptcy court in an attempt to avoid the consequences of his deceit. Moreover, he neglected his clients' case for several months and failed to take proper steps to protect his clients before attempting to withdraw as their counsel."