A Franklin County grand jury indicted Columbus Attorney Paul S. Kormanik yesterday on theft charges. The indictment came after the grand jury provided sufficient evidence to implicate Kormanik of theft of more than $41,000. Even worse, Kormanik is accused of stealing that money from two of his wards.
A story ran in The Columbus Dispatch back in August detailing Kormanik's supervision of about 400 wards, potentially more than anyone in the United States. Attorney General Mike DeWine accused Kormanik of manipulating his status as a ward to steal money from legally incompetent people. DeWine also implied that there would be more charges in the future.
Kormanik's arrest warrant includes one charge of theft in the third degree and one charge of theft in the fourth degree – both felonies in the state of Ohio. If convicted, Kormanik could be sent to prison for 4.5 years.
Here are some allegations from the indictment:
- Kormanik withdrew $34,000 from the bank account of a recently deceased ward
- Kormanik took $7,200 out of the pension of a recently deceased ward and put it into his own account
- Kormanik gifted $7,000 in stolen money to his wife
- Stolen funds were deposited directly into Kormanik's bank account for his own personal uses
The prosecuting attorney, Ron O'Brien, stated in a release that more of Kormanik's victims have come forward in recent weeks.
At the beginning of August, The Dispatch reported that Kormanik had more than 400 wards in his care. Later that month, he released guardianship of 300 of them. Since this story broke, the state has been investigating other attorneys to find any evidence of theft from wards, such as exorbitant legal fees, and other ethics violations. It would seem as if this sudden criminalization of a decades-old custom is simply an attempt to pander to the electorate because the Attorney General is running for reelection.
To learn more, read Lawyer Indicted for theft from those he was supposed to protectin The Columbus Dispatch.