Published: Friday, January 20, 2017 @ 3:36 PM
By: Nancy Bowman - Contributing Writer
A suspended Troy lawyer convicted of felony unauthorized use of property involving land obtained from a client in 2010 was sentenced Friday to five years of community control and a $5,000 fine in Shelby County Common Pleas Court.
Christopher Bucio, 38, pleaded guilty Nov. 30 before visiting Judge Timothy Campbell of Greene County. The Ohio Supreme Court earlier this month suspended Bucio’s license for an interim period and referred the case for disciplinary proceedings.
Before sentencing, Bucio said he had learned a lot in the seven years since the incident. “Clearly, I would have done things differently,” he said. “I am really regretful.”
Matthew Donahue, an assistant Ohio attorney general, handled the prosecution. He said although prison was not likely under sentencing guidelines, the court could order community control with added sanctions such as local jail time.
“It is a dark day for our profession and an even darker day for the victim,” Donahue said.
Bucio was accused of taking 22 acres of farm land owned by a Shelby County woman in payment for legal representation of its owner, selling the land and keeping the proceeds.
Troy lawyer Jeremy Tomb spoke for the victim, who attended sentencing. He said Bucio spent little time, “a couple of days,” representing the woman who at the time was in “a vulnerable state.”
Tomb said Bucio sold the land, then “stalled” when the woman tried to contact him and later misrepresented the woman’s situation to the investigating Ohio Supreme Court.
The woman this week received restitution reached in an agreement, Tomb said. The amount is confidential under the agreement terms
A plea form filed in the court stated prosecutors would not file other charges related to the representation of the woman “or the issues directly arising out of it which have been investigated by the special prosecutors.”
The charge was a fourth-degree felony, which carried a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Judge Campbell said he hoped the experience would mean Bucio, if ever in a position of trust for someone again, would treat them appropriately. If Bucio violates the community control he could receive up to 17 months in prison.
Bucio practiced with the firm of Roberts, Kelly and Bucio that had offices in Miami, Shelby and other counties. He no longer is included in the firm known as Roberts and Kelly.
Bucio’s lawyer, David Greer of Dayton made no comment before sentencing relying on a sentencing memorandum filed before the hearing
Another former lawyer with the Bucio firm, Joshua Albright of Shelby County, pleaded last year in Miami County to felony unauthorized use of property for theft of client funds from the law firm.
He was sentenced to community control but ordered to serve 90 days in the county jail.
He also pleaded to felony forgery of documents in a custody case in Shelby County, where he was ordered to serve 90 days in jail consecutive to the Miami County time.
Albright was ordered to pay $60,650 restitution to the firm, whose office manager testified at a hearing that an insurance company had paid another $25,000. Albright resigned from practice last year and the case was referred for disciplinary proceedings.