Lawyer Suspended for Defrauding Family members Estate

A Lorain County legal professional has been suspended from the observe of legislation for two decades with one calendar year stayed for fraudulently diverting resources from a loved ones probate estate, like taking $5,200 to obtain a utilised BMW, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled these days.

In a unanimous per curiam viewpoint, the Court suspended Diana Jancura of Sheffield Lake for skilled perform violations that happened though dealing with an aunt’s estate.

Lawyer Represents Cousin’s Estate
In 2003, Jancura established a believe in for her cousin Christopher Kovach Sr. and his spouse, Angela Ceo. Two many years later on Kovach died. In 2016, Ceo requested that Jancura revise the believe in to identify her mother, Candice Frantz, as a successor trustee. Ceo also asked Jancura to revise Ceo’s will to name Frantz as the guardian of Ceo’s and Kovach’s two insignificant small children.

Ceo died in 2016. Frantz grew to become the guardian of her orphaned grandchildren and the trustee of the have faith in the mother and father set up for the minors. Frantz hired Jancura to signify her as the trustee and guardian.

In 2018, Patricia DiRenzo died. DiRenzo was Kovach’s mom and Jancura’s aunt. DiRenzo’s will still left her estate to her son, which passed to his slight youngsters, because Kovach and Ceo have been each deceased. Frantz was then in charge of controlling the cash from DiRenzo’s estate for the children.

Legal professional Withdraws Fees and Money From Estate
Jancura utilized to have DiRenzo’s estate probated in Cuyahoga County Probate Courtroom and grew to become the estate’s administrator. Underneath the probate court’s area regulations, Jancura was entitled to generate around $6,000 in charges to serve as an administrator. The court would also allow the payment of $6,000 in attorney fees for an lawyer to guide the administrator.

Even so, Cuyahoga County has a community court docket rule that states when a lawyer serves as each the administrator and attorney for an estate, the attorney charge is half the regular rate. Consequently, Jancura’s complete payment for handling the DiRenzo estate was minimal to $9,000 except if she utilized for more expenses and furnished supporting documentation.

In 2019, Jancura dispersed resources from the DiRenzo estate into the rely on of the two youngsters. At that time, she withdrew $10,000 from the estate to pay her legislation company. She documented the payment as lawful charges similar to representing Frantz as guardian and trustee to the youngsters. She later withdrew $6,000 as her administrator rate from the DiRenzo estate.

Cash Withdrawn to Invest in Vehicle
About 5 months later, Jancura withdrew funds from the DiRenzo estate by writing a $5,200 verify payable as “cash.” She applied the income to purchase a cashier’s test payable to James Kepler. Jancura and her spouse, who was also her legislation husband or wife, employed the check out to purchase a 2003 BMW from Kepler.

Due to the fact Jancura experienced already acquired her $6,000 administrator fee, she was only entitled to $3,000 in lawyer service fees. Nevertheless, a month soon after getting the motor vehicle, she withdrew another $6,000 from the estate as her lawyer rate. Her withdrawals from the estate, together with the dollars made use of to order the auto, totaled $27,200 .

In March 2020, Jancura’s husband filed a court docket motion to signify the DiRenzo estate. A month afterwards, Jancura asked for that the court approve a further $6,000 in lawyer charges, without disclosing that she by now had withdrawn her expenses from the estate.

Together with the ask for, Jancura submitted an entry with the court stating that Kepler was paid out $5,200 from the estate for function he done for DiRenzo right before she died.

Grandmother Suspicious of Estate Account
Immediately after receiving a duplicate of the estate’s account, Frantz employed a further lawyer to review the records. The law firm requested from Jancura an accounting of expenses mentioned in her report, together with the $5,200 paid out to Kepler.

Jancura wrote to the law firm that Kepler experienced provided providers to DiRenzo. While Jancura knew the articles of the letter was wrong, she represented to her partner that it was correct and had him indication the letter as the estate’s attorney. When Frantz’s attorney asked for a lot more details, Jancura presented two fabricated receipts for labor and products for perform that Kepler had allegedly done on DiRenzo’s household. Jancura forged a signature for Kepler on a single of the receipts.

In August 2020, Frantz filed a lawsuit towards Jancura. She questioned the probate court docket to take away Jancura as the estate administrator and order her to repay the attorney expenses she experienced taken for administering the estate. She alleged Jancura dedicated fraud by having to pay Kepler with estate resources and attempting to conceal her conduct. Soon thereafter, Jancura repaid the $5,200 to the estate.

In a deposition, Jancura admitted that she fabricated the Kepler receipts and withdrew much more costs than permitted by courtroom guidelines devoid of trying to get acceptance from the probate courtroom.

Frantz settled her lawsuit with Jancura, and Jancura repaid the additional $22,000 she had taken from the estate.

Estate Handling Sales opportunities to Disciplinary Criticism
In 2021, the Business office of the Disciplinary Counsel submitted a complaint from Jancura with the Board of Professional Carry out primarily based on her handling of the estate.

Jancura and the disciplinary counsel stipulated, and the board agreed, that Jancura violated various specialist carry out principles by falsifying proof , building a bogus assertion to a courtroom, and engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

At her disciplinary hearing, Jancura testified she suffered from depression and commenced to meet with a therapist. She entered into a two-calendar year Ohio Lawyer’s Guidance System (OLAP) agreement to go to remedy. Nevertheless, the board’s report stated that Jancura does not show up to have been diagnosed with a psychological disorder.

The board claimed that Jancura experienced acknowledged the wrongfulness of her steps, but did not appear to settle for whole responsibility. She at a single level stated, “None of this would have took place but for COVID,” and blamed the pandemic lockdowns for a lot of of her missteps. The board rejected that declare due to the fact she misappropriated the money five months just before COVID lockdowns began.

The Court adopted the board’s suggestion that Jancura be suspended for two a long time, with just one 12 months stayed on the problems that she does not interact in even further misconduct and pays the costs of the disciplinary proceedings. The Court docket also necessary that to be reinstated, Jancura have to comply with OLAP contract and any extension advisable by OLAP.

2022-0367. Disciplinary Counsel v. Jancura, Slip Viewpoint No. 2022-Ohio-3189.

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