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Court Disbars Former Cincinnati Attorney

2005-2036. Cincinnati Bar Assn. v. Blankemeyer, 2006-Ohio-2038.
On Certified Report by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, No. 05-014. Thomas F. Blankemeyer, Attorney Registration No. 0071812, is permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio.
Moyer, C.J., Pfeifer, Lundberg Stratton, O'Connor, O'Donnell and Lanzinger, JJ., concur.
Resnick, J., dissents and would indefinitely suspend respondent.
Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2006/2006-Ohio-2038.pdf

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(May 10, 2006) The Supreme Court of Ohio has permanently disbarred attorney Thomas F. Blankemeyer , formerly of Cincinnati . Blankemeyer's license has been under an interim suspension imposed by the Court in December 2004 as a result of his conviction on a felony theft charge.

In a 5-2 decision announced today, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that Blankemeyer violated multiple provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility when he embezzled more than $100,000 from his former employer prior to August 2003, and when he committed a separate criminal offense for which he pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of property in November 2004.

The Court agreed with the board's conclusions that Blankemeyer's conduct violated state disciplinary rules that prohibit an attorney from engaging in illegal conduct involving moral turpitude; conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and conduct that adversely reflects on the attorney's fitness to practice law.

In setting the sanction for this misconduct, the Court noted the aggravating factors that Blankemeyer acted with a dishonest or selfish motive, engaged in a pattern of prohibited activity involving multiple acts of misconduct and failed to cooperate in the disciplinary process. While Blankemeyer indicated to the Cincinnati Bar Association that he was addicted to the painkiller OxyContin and had stolen money to obtain the drug, the disciplinary board found that there was insufficient evidence in the record to consider his alleged addiction as a mitigating factor.

The disciplinary board recommended that Blankemeyer's license be indefinitely suspended; however, the Court voted 5-2 to impose the ultimate sanction of permanent disbarment. In its per curiam opinion, the Court cited other cases in which it has disbarred attorneys who were convicted of felony theft offenses, and wrote that “(a)n attorney who has been convicted of felony theft offenses has violated the basic professional duty to act with honesty and integrity.”

The majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer and Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Maureen O'Connor and Judith Ann Lanzinger. Justices Alice Robie Resnick and Terrence O'Donnell dissented, indicating that they would impose an indefinite suspension rather than disbarment.

Contacts
James A. Vogele, 513.946.3670, for the Cincinnati Bar Association.

Thomas Blankemeyer, pro se: No current contact information available.