IN THE MATTER OF: THOMAS R. PHILPOT, Respondent
Attorney Discipline Action.
Thomas R. Philpot, RESPONDENT, Pro se, St. John, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION: G. Michael Witte, Executive Secretary, David B. Hughes, Staff Attorney, Indianapolis, Indiana.
All Justices concur except Rush, C.J., and Dickson, J., who dissent, believing Respondent should be disbarred.
We find that Respondent, Thomas Philpot, engaged in attorney misconduct. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be suspended from the practice of law in this state for at least four years without automatic reinstatement.
Pursuant to Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23(11), the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission and Respondent have submitted for approval a " Statement of Circumstances and Conditional Agreement for Discipline" stipulating agreed facts and proposed discipline. The Respondent's 2001 admission to this state's bar subjects him to this Court's disciplinary jurisdiction. See Ind. Const. art. 7, § 4. The Court approves the agreement and proposed discipline.
In September 2011, Respondent was charged in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana with three counts of mail fraud and two counts of theft from a federally-funded program, all felonies. In August 2012, Respondent was convicted by a jury on all counts. After post-trial proceedings, Respondent was adjudicated guilty on the jury's verdicts as to two counts of mail fraud and one count of theft. Respondent's convictions were affirmed on appeal. U.S. v. Philpot, 733 F.3d 734 (7th Cir. 2013), reh'g and reh'g en banc denied. Respondent's convictions resulted from his use of federal funds to pay himself impermissible bonuses in connection with work he performed in his capacity as the elected Clerk of Lake County, Indiana.
Respondent has been under an order of interim suspension in this matter since June 15, 2013. See Matter of Philpot, 988 N.E.2d 263 (Ind. 2013).
The parties agree that by committing criminal acts that reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer, Respondent violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b).
The parties cite no facts in aggravation. The Court, however, finds in aggravation that Respondent was an elected official who betrayed the public trust and violated both his oath of office and the oath of attorneys. The parties cite the following facts in mitigation: (1) Respondent's lack of prior discipline; (2) Respondent's cooperation with the Commission's investigation and prompt reporting of criminal charges against him; and (3) ...