The Ohio Supreme Court voted this week to suspend a Champaign County criminal defense attorney after he was convicted of a felony for false claims made to federal authorities.
The court ruled in a 6-1 decision to accept the recommendation of the Board of Commissioners on Grievance and Discipline to suspend George Z. Pappas, of Urbana, for tw0 years. It also decided not to give him any credit for suspended time he has already served.
In 2012, a judge sentenced Pappas to probation for a year and four months of home confinement for false statements he gave in a case dealing with his law school classmate and best friend’s firm.
In 2004, Pappas claimed to own Aristotle Masta’s Columbus-based law firm so Masta’s wife could not see the firm’s records during a divorce.
However, the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Justice were investigating Masta’s firm for a tax-fraud scheme at the time.
Pappas told a federal grand jury that he owned Masta’s firm.
He eventually agreed to cooperate with the investigation and made a plea deal for his false statements.
Pappas’ cooperation and lack of any financial benefit from the fiction were reasons the court stood by a two-year suspension.
However, the one Ohio Supreme Court Justice who did not vote for the suspension, told a reporter for Court News Ohio, a service of the state Supreme Court and Ohio Government Telecommunications, that he wanted Pappas disbarred.
“The egregious conduct Pappas engaged in, particularly with respect to IRS agents, and his testimony before a grand jury and representations to the Department of Justice adversely affect the administration of justice,” Justice Terrence O’Donnell wrote. “In my view, a two-year suspension with no credit for time served under the interim felony suspension is not an appropriate sanction.”
Pappas was also cited for failing to comply with continuing legal education requirement and failing to register.
Pappas couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.
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