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In re Schuyler

Supreme Court of Indiana

May 22, 2018

In the Matter of Stephen W. Schuyler Respondent.

         Attorney Discipline Action

          RESPONDENT PRO SE Stephen W. Schuyler Pendleton, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR INDIANA SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION G. Michael Witte, Executive Director David E. Griffith, Staff Attorney Indianapolis, Indiana

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         We find that Respondent, Stephen Schuyler, engaged in attorney misconduct by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from six supervised estates, failing to comply with court orders, and failing to cooperate with the disciplinary process. For this misconduct, we conclude that Respondent should be disbarred.

         Pursuant to Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23(12.1)(b), 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. Respondent's 1982 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.

         Stipulated Facts

         Respondent currently is suspended indefinitely from the practice of law due to his noncooperation with the Commission's investigation into the conduct described below. Matter of Schuyler, 54 N.E.3d 344 (Ind. 2016). Respondent also currently is under an interim suspension due to his felony conviction arising from the conduct described below. Matter of Schuyler, 82 N.E.3d 878 (Ind. 2017).

         Respondent served as either the personal representative, or counsel for the personal representative, in six supervised estates opened for probate in Madison County. Over the course of several years, Respondent stole at least $550, 000 from the six estates. As a result, Respondent was criminally charged with fifteen felony counts: (1) eight counts of theft as Class C, Class D, or Level 6 felonies; (2) five counts of check deception as Level 5 or Level 6 felonies; and (3) two counts of corrupt business influence as Class C or Level 5 felonies. Respondent pled guilty as charged and, in June 2017, Respondent was sentenced in accordance with the plea agreement to concurrent terms of incarceration totaling eight years and ordered to pay restitution.

         In the estate case that prompted the initial disciplinary grievance filed with the Commission, Respondent failed to comply with court orders for accounting and to distribute assets, and he failed to appear at multiple hearings despite being ordered to do so, resulting in the issuance of a bench warrant for Respondent's arrest. After this warrant was issued, Respondent tendered a check to the sole residual beneficiary of the estate in the amount ordered by the court to be distributed, but the check was dishonored due to insufficient funds. The court set the matter for another hearing, which Respondent again failed to attend. The court then removed Respondent as the estate's administrator and appointed a successor administrator. An accounting done by the successor administrator revealed that Respondent had made unauthorized payments from the estate to himself totaling approximately $164, 000.

         The parties agree that Respondent violated these Indiana Professional Conduct Rules prohibiting the following misconduct:

3.4(c): Knowingly disobeying a court order.
8.1(b): Knowingly failing to respond to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary authority.
8.4(b): Committing criminal acts that reflect adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or ...

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