MIAMI COUNTY — A former Miami County lawyer had his license to practice law suspended indefinitely by the Ohio Supreme Court as of Nov. 29.
Christopher R. Bucio, a former partner of Roberts, Kelly & Bucio, LLP, (now called Roberts and Kelly), had his license suspended on an interim basis following a seven-year legal battle in Shelby County Common Pleas Court in January of this year.
Bucio was found to have violated several professional conduct standards regarding the unauthorized use of a client’s property. Now listed as an Urbana resident, Bucio was sentenced to serve five years of supervised community control and to pay a $5,000 fine for one count of unauthorized use of property, a felony of the fourth degree.
Bucio took farmland owned by a Shelby County woman as payment for her legal representation, sold the land and kept all the proceeds. Those funds have since been returned to the victim in full. Bucio later acknowledged spending 40 hours working on the case and he would have charged $9,000 for his services instead of $127,000 worth of land he acquired from the client.
He entered a guilty plea to the charge in November 2016 and the Ohio Supreme Court suspended him from the practicing law for an interim period until the ruling was submitted Nov. 29.
According to the disciplinary counsel’s option, Bucio cannot petition for reinstatement until he completes community control or is released from communication control sanctions.
According to the Court News Ohio summary, “In its recommendation to the Court, the board found Bucio had a dishonest motive and engaged in multiple rule violations. The board noted that (Shelby County resident Linda) Heuker suffered serious financial harm from Bucio’s misconduct because she was forced to initiate a civil lawsuit to recoup her money, and she did not receive her portion until 6 years after the sale. The board’s hearing panel on the matter noted that Bucio did not express remorse or accept accountability for his actions until after his 2016 criminal conviction.”
The summary also stated, “The Court’s opinion stated that the board found Bucio’s conduct was essentially misappropriating his client’s funds, and the presumed sanction for such behavior is disbarment. However, the board recommended an indefinite suspension, citing two similar misappropriation cases by other attorneys. In both those cases, the attorneys had no prior discipline.
“We agree with the board that Bucio’s egregious misconduct here was tantamount to misappropriation of client funds.”
Bucio earned his undergraduate degree in criminal justice and sociology from Bluffton University, and earned his law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He was sworn into the Ohio Bar Association in 2003.