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Published: Thursday, 1/15/2009

McConnell Hancock gets 4 years

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A former Toledo attorney who pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from her clients was sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Thursday to 4 years in prison.

Karyn McConnell Hancock, 38, was convicted of aggravated theft in November for stealing more than $624,000 from 23 clients over a period of nearly six years. The charge carried a maximum penalty of up to eight years in prison.

Visiting Judge David Faulkner, who is a retired common pleas judge from Hardin County, imposed the sentence after reviewing a presentence investigation report. He was assigned the case after several Lucas County judges recused themselves to avoid a conflict.

The investigation of McConnell Hancock's illegal activity was conducted by the prosecutor's office and identified 23 victims, including several who have since filed civil lawsuits against her. Authorities said that McConnell Hancock would put money into an attorney escrow account for clients of personal injury cases, probate matters, and real estate issues, and would divert some of the funds for personal use.

Because McConnell Hancock would ultimately pay back some of that money with other accounts, authorities believe the total stolen was about $389,000.

According to the indictment, the thefts occurred between Jan. 1, 2002, and Nov. 30, 2007. McConnell Hancock, who entered the practice of law on May 11, 1999, sent a letter to the Ohio Supreme Court last January to resign as an attorney.

Those clients who investigators have identified as victims of theft have been advised to file a claim with the Client Security Fund of the Supreme Court of Ohio. The fund is made up of money from registration fees paid by Ohio's attorneys and is used to reimburse those who are victims of attorney misconduct.

The sentence concludes the months-long investigation of McConnell Hancock's illegal behavior that began when she faked her own abduction in November, 2007. She admitted days later that she fabricated the story of being kidnapped from downtown by unknown people and dropped off in Georgia.

The former Democratic Toledo city councilman and the daughter of sitting Toledo Municipal Court Judge C. Allen McConnell, McConnell Hancock was found guilty in Toledo Municipal Court last January of a misdemeanor charge of making false alarms. She was sentenced April 9 to two years of probation with a three-month jail sentence suspended, a $300 fine, and 40 hours of community service.

The mother of two, McConnell Hancock served on Toledo City Council from 2003 to 2005, when she lost her bid for reelection. Just prior to her loss at the polls, she was caught on a police officer's in-car camera in June, 2005, asking for "professional courtesy" several times to avoid being ticketed in a no stopping, tow-away zone.



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