THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
Anthony DeGidio, a Republican member of the Lucas County Board of Elections, will lose his law license for up to two years under a suspension handed down Thursday by the Ohio Supreme Court, and a renewed effort is under way to remove him from the elections board.
The Supreme Court issued a two-year suspension of Mr. DeGidio’s law license for using money from his client trust account to pay personal and business expenses. However, the license could be reinstated after one year if he completes an approved continuing education course on the use and maintenance of a client trust account.
In the court’s 6-1 decision, the court adopted the findings of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, which determined that between August, 2010, and June, 2011, Mr. DeGidio commingled personal and client funds in what should have been a dedicated trust account and wrote checks from that account to pay personal and business expenses. On one occasion, the board found, he overdrew the account, which resulted in a check to pay the filing fee in a client’s federal court case being dishonored.
The disciplinary board also said he failed to provide requested information about the situation, failed to appear for a scheduled deposition in the case, and had to be prosecuted through default proceedings.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor cast the dissenting vote on the court’s decision, saying she would impose an indefinite suspension as the appropriate sanction for Mr. DeGidio’s misconduct.
Mr. DeGidio did not return calls for comment.
Last month, he survived an attempt by fellow Republicans in Lucas County to remove him from the elections board after the two Democrats on the board, Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler and member John Irish, voted not to revoke Mr. DeGidio’s voting registration. John Marshall, a Sylvania Township resident who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican Party candidate for Lucas County commissioner last year, in March filed a complaint that Mr. DeGidio now lives in Youngstown and is not a valid registered voter.
Mr. Rothenbuhler said Thursday that the board has been advised by its lawyer, assistant Lucas County Prosecutor John Borell, that the hearing held March 27 was incomplete. During that hearing, the board voted that Mr. DeGidio is a registered voter because he has an intent to return to Lucas County.
Mr. Rothenbuhler said the board’s next hearing will be on the question of whether Mr. DeGidio has a required fixed residence in Lucas County. During the March hearing, evidence showed that Mr. DeGidio did not own or lease an address in Lucas County. He claimed as his address the rented condominium of a friend in Sylvania Township.
Mr. Rothenbuhler said the date for that second hearing will be set when the board meets Tuesday.
The Lucas County Republican Party executive committee, with 52 members present, voted unanimously Wednesday night to rescind a recommendation to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for Mr. DeGidio’s appointment for the two-year term on the grounds that he lives in Youngstown and that he “lied to this committee to gain his initial recommendation,” the party said in an emailed statement.
“We now know that he intentionally withheld numerous previous addresses where he lived, including an address in Michigan, so the Secretary of State could not do a proper background check,” the statement said.
The committee also complained that Mr. DeGidio failed to support Republican positions on the board, and the statement also cited the Supreme Court investigation as evidence that Mr. DeGidio violated the secretary of state’s ethics policy.
“Tony DeGidio lost his license to practice law because of unethical conduct and failure to cooperate with an Ohio Supreme Court investigation,” said Jon Stainbrook, Lucas County Republican Party chairman, who had voted against letting Mr. DeGidio remain on the board. “On the seriousness of that alone, Mr. DeGidio should step down or be removed by the Ohio secretary of state.
“The voters need to have confidence that their election officials will do the right thing by following the rules and the laws. Mr. DeGidio has failed to do so.”
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com or 419-724-6058.