Pepper Pike lawyer accused of misappropriating more than $1 million from clients, many with developmental disabilities

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In the final days of 2014, lawyer Dorothea Kingsbury churned extra than $100,000 thru a handful of trusts she oversaw for clients, frantically replenishing withdrawals she had made only days in advance, facts display.
Her clients knew not anything of her movements. In reality, a number of them can neither read nor write.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors say the monetary moves have been a part of a years-lengthy scheme in which Kingsbury misappropriated extra than $1.1 million of her customers’ money.
In August, Kingsbury, sixty-six, is scheduled to visit trial in Common Pleas Court on prices of theft, fraud and money laundering. An indictment filed in February says that in view that December 2012 she made more significant than two hundred questionable shifts of budget, or transactions that can not be defined, for 22 clients, 21 of whom suffer developmental disabilities. The different victim is a 70-year-old lady.
Kingsbury is loose on $10,000 bond. If convicted, she should be sentenced to more than ten years in prison.
“Kingsbury applied her function as a longtime legal professional to take benefit of numerous vulnerable victims,’’ Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said. “She turned into absolutely privy to what she turned into doing and persisted in taking cash from her developmentally disabled customers time and time again.”
Authorities stated Kingsbury withdrew and transferred masses of hundreds of dollars over the years from the bills of clients to conceal what she had taken from others, together with greater than $110,000 that she made for herself.
What she did with the misappropriated price range is uncertain, the government said. She lives in a modest, -story, Cape Cod residence in Mayfield that the Cuyahoga County fiscal workplace worth $250,000. Court data give no trace of economic problem.
“This whole factor is beautiful to me. These are folks who can’t guard themselves,” stated attorney Lisa Summers, who represents the circle of relatives of a person sufferer with the intellectual improvement of a 3-12 months-vintage.
“These are people who need the maximum assist, and this is what she does to them?
“She mainly went out and victimized the disabled and the aged.”
The allegations provide an annoying view of an attorney who, in a solo practice, created a gap for herself in probate courts throughout Northeast Ohio.
She has handled loads of instances, whether representing a property or serving as a guardian or trustee, in a profession that spanned almost 40 years. Her legal work ended last 12 months when officials commenced investigating monetary irregularities after a social worker tipped off the government in about 2017. Kingsbury has resigned from pending cases.
On her website, which has for the reason that been taken down, she touted how she carried out “the human contact to her work with customers.”
“A hallmark of the firm is the time invested in getting to understand every customer and apprehend the customer’s desires,” the website study.
The criminal allegations greatly surprised individuals who understand her work.
“The indictment knocked me off my feet,” said Cleveland lawyer Joshua Cohen, who worked with Kingsbury on a trustee case. “I notion she would be the closing person within the global who might be indicted. I was given to know her pretty properly. I determined her very vibrant, very forthright. I discovered her straightforward, certainly.”
Authorities said they believe the scope of Kingsbury’s illegal financial dealings is a whole lot large than the time frame of the indictment.
They stated it could span numerous years and contain rankings of accounts. Authorities are investigating instances from years in the past to determine whether others had been affected.
“The funds are supposed to help humans have higher lives, occasionally allowing them to revel in lifestyles greater,” stated James May, an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor.
Civil litigation filed
The own family of Janis Paul, a 64-12 months-old Cleveland female with severe mental impairment, filed match in September 2018 against Kingsbury in Cuyahoga County Probate Court, worrying an accounting of her agree with. In the lawsuit, the family stated that Kingsbury commingled the assets of Paul’s believe “with the belongings of the trusts of other beneficiaries.”
Records display Kingsbury had served as a trustee to the trust from July 30, 2011, thru Jan. 26, 2015. Investigators located Kingsbury made 50 questionable transfers from Paul’s account for nearly $300,000, consistent with records prosecutors filed. The case in probate courtroom is pending.
“I want to know in which all of the cash went,” stated Paul’s attorney, Douglas Whipple.
Other families said they also are making ready to sue Kingsbury.
Kingsbury did no longer return calls for remark. Defense legal professional Larry Zukerman said he is comparing the proof within the case.
“Ms. Kingsbury represented these human beings and carried out criminal services on their behalf,” Zukerman said. “We’re waiting to see where the liability if any, exists.
“I accept as true with that humans are looking at this in a vacuum,’’ Zukerman stated. “They aren’t considering the work she did for her customers. Bad recordkeeping had lots to do in this example. I believe, however, that once human beings realize what Dorothea did for her clients and the repayment that she received, they may have a one of a kind view.’’
Responsibilities of a mother or father, trustee
A key a part of Kingsbury’s exercise was as a dad or mum and trustee in Cuyahoga and Lake counties, supporting families oversee the budget and welfare in their cherished ones.
In Ohio, guardians are required to shield the wellbeing and rights of individuals who can’t care for themselves, whether or not they may be aged, or mentally or developmentally disabled. Guardians file on the individual’s well-being and financial popularity immediately to probate courtroom.
Kingsbury additionally served as a trustee of special-needs trusts. The trusts frequently are installation with the aid of families or guardians to offer cash for necessary purchases or wish to a person with disabilities. In most of her instances, families employed Kingsbury to oversee the money owed.
Money within the trusts, as an instance, may be used pay for a higher wheelchair, different mobility wishes and small matters to assist a client’s satisfactory of lifestyles, inclusive of favorite foods, a better tv or maybe a special trip. The trusts do no longer affect someone’s Medicaid investment, that is used for each day care and room and board.
In her position as trustee, Kingsbury was to make certain that the price range had been covered and spent within the best pursuits of her clients. The trustee manages money coming in and controls the money going out.
The trustee has to put up an accounting of the finances to the beneficiary’s courtroom-appointed parent.
Most of the special-wishes trusts involve a Medicaid payback provision. Simply placed, when the beneficiary dies, money from the trusts must grow to become over to Medicaid for the repayment of the price of care.
The first crimson flags
About 1/2 of Kingsbury’s developmentally disabled clients named in the indictment lived at Deepwood, a residential care facility in Mentor that is operated by the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
In approximately 2017, a social worker on the facility began to be aware economic irregularities related to some residents’ trusts, and guardians have become indignant as they discovered that Kingsbury, the trustee, didn’t publish annual popularity updates on time, authorities stated.
In one instance, Kingsbury came up lots of bucks quick of what ought to have been in the agree with, the government said. She claimed she made a simple blunder.
When similar instances got here up, and Kingsbury supplied the same reaction, Deepwood employees added their worries to police in Mentor and Pepper Pike, wherein Kingsbury had her workplace. Detectives worked with May, a white-collar crimes prosecutor, and Jerry Cannon, a forensic accountant with the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

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