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BEFORE THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ON GRIEV A.NCES AND DISCIPLINE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO In re: Complaint Against ) ) ) ) ) )
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CASE NO.

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TIMOTHY H. SNYDER
13874 Kirtland Street, Suite 2 PO B;}~386 Burton, OH 44021~0386

AMENDED COMPLP-JNT
(Rule V of the Supreme Court Rule for

RESPONDENT

GEAUGA COUI\TTY BAR ASSOCIATION Certified Grievance Committee 114 East Park Street Chardon, OB 44024

RELATOR

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the Government

of the Bar of Ohio)

Now comes the Relator and alleges that Timothy H. Snyder, an Attorney at Law, duly admitted to the practice of law in the State of Ohio, is guilty of the following misconduct: 1. Relator is a certified grievance committee certified

by the Board

of

Commissioners on Grievance and Discipline of the Supreme Court pursuant to Rule V, Section 3(C), of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar to investigate allegat-ions of misconduct by judges and attorneys and mental illness affecting judges or attorneys and to initiate complaints as a result of such investigations. 2. Respondent, Timothy H. Snyder ("Snyder"), is admitted to the practice of law in

the State of Ohio since May 13, 1996 and has been assigned Registration No. 0065926.

"

3.

Respondent is subject to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct and the Ru1es of

the Government of the Bar of Ohio. 4. Relator has given the Respondent notice of each allegation contained in this

Complaint and has given him an opportunity to respond to such allegations as required by Rule V, Section 4(1), of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar. 5. Ohio. 6. Respondent has not previously been the subject of disciplinary action before the The undersigned counsel for Relator are each admitted to the practice of law in

Supreme Court of Ohio.

FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES 7. Respondent performs services under the name of Snyder Professional Law

Services ("SPLS") in an office located at 8251 Mayfield Road, Suite 100 in Chesterland, Ohio and has an office in Burton, Ohio. 8. He shares the Mayfield Road office with Martorana Legal Services, LLC

("Martorana") and an entity known as Performing Investment Corp. ("PIC"). 9. PIC is owned and operated by Robert Ruckstuhl and is purportedly a paralegal

business and mortgage bailout company which works with attorneys. 10. PIC pays a national advertising group to advertise for clients needing assistance

with foreclosure or the threat of foreclosure. PIC and/or Snyder receives client calls, compiles information from clients and contacts lenders to negotiate the options. 11. PIC employs a number of people including three "case analysts", Julie Zubic,

Kim Pscbirer and Sharon Moore, and a disbarred attorney, Jonathan Evans. PIC also employs the owner's wife, PJ Ruckstuhl as a receptionist. PIC supervises the paralegals and trains the staff who each manage 150-200 files at any given time.

12.
13.

Snyder contracts with PIC for services performed by the staff of PIC. Snyder accepts referrals from PIC and enters into agreements with clients and flat

fees are paid by the client. Snyder then pays PIC all monies received except $300.00 which he keeps for himself. PIC bills the attorney on a weekly basis. 14. Snyder represents on his letterhead that he has other attorneys who are "of

counsel" in multiple states. 15. 16. Snyder has no oversight of the employees of PIC. When Snyder and PIC are contacted by individuals outside of the State of Ohio,

PIC and Snyder collect the-entire fee and send approximately $150.00 of said fee to attorneys in other states who are listed "of counsel" on Respondent's letterhead.

COUNT ONE (Wallace Matter) 17. Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs 1 through

16, inclusive, of the Amended Complaint as though fully rewritten herein. 18. On or about May 14,2010, Alfred and Avalon Wallace ("the Wallaces") received

a solicitation letter from Respondent alleging they were behind in their mortgage payments. 19. Nowhere in the letter sent to the Wallaces did Respondent indicate how he

reasonably believed the Wallaces were in need of his services, disclose how he became aware of any need of the Wallaces for any services, disclaim any predetermination of the merits, or conspicuously show on the envelope and letter that it was an advertisement.

20.

By sending said letter to the Wallaces, Respondent violated Rule 7.3(c) of the

Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires that written communications from lawyers to prospective clients soliciting professional employment disclose accurately and fully the

manner in which the lawyer or law firm became aware of the identity and specific legal need of the addressee; disclaim or refrain from expressing any predetermined evaluation of the merits of the addressee's case; and/or conspicuously include in its text and on the outside envelope, if any, the recital - "ADVERTISING MA TERlAL" or "ADVERTISEMENT ONLY."

COUNT TWO

(Feckner Matter)
21. Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs 1 through

20, inclusive, of the Complaint as though fully rewritten herein. 22. Leonard L. Feckner ("Feckner") is an individual who saw an advertisement on

television regarding home modification loan services. 23. Feckner called the number as advertised on or about August 10, 2009 and spoke

with an individual whom he believed to be employed by Respondent and/or PIC. 24. On August 10, 2009, Feckner was visited in his home by a "Barry McClowsky", to be employed as a paralegal with Respondent and/or PIC.

who Feckner understood

McClowsky had Feckner sign papers and an authorization for a credit card payment in the amount of$1,624.95. 25. On or about August 19, 2009, Feckner received a telephone call from Sharon

Moore who Feckner also understood to be employed as a paralegal with Respondent and/or PIC asking for additional information from Feckner in order to assist him with the loan modification. 26. On or about August 28, 2009, Feckner was informed by Ms. Moore that

Respondent and/or PIC could not assist him with the loan. 27. On or about September 1,2009, Feckner terminated his agreement with SPLS and

disputed the credit card charges with his credit card company.

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28.

Feckner never spoke with Snyder and to his information and belief neither Snyder

nor anyone from SPLS spoke to Feckner's mortgage company. 29. Snyder sent Feckner a letter on September 29,2009 stating that he had spent 3.3

hours on Feckner's case at a rate of $225.00 per hour. Snyder further indicated that his paralegal had spent 3.8 hours at $125.00 per hour on Feckner's case. Snyder further stated that a refund of $377.50 was forthcoming, which was delivered to Feckner only after he made a complaint to the Cuyahoga County Bar Association. 30. The Fee Agreement which was entered into between the Relator and Feckner

provides for a flat fee which is deemed earned in full upon the opening of the file and that no refunds would be made. 31. According to time entries provided to Relator by Respondent, the majority of the

work performed on the file was done by the case analyst and a person who is identified only as "Jon" or JE (believed to be Jonathan Evans) and who mayor may not be a paralegal. It appears from the time entries that Respondent had very little involvement, if any, relative to the Feckner case. 32. By acting in the manner alleged.Respondent violated Rule 1.5(a) and (d) of the

Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct by charging an excessive fee and/or charging a nonrefundable fee.

COUNT THREE
(Brizard Matter)
33. Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs I through

32, inclusive, of the Complaint as though fully rewritten herein.

34.

On or about March 18, 2009, Jo-Smith Brizard ("Brizard") was served with a

foreclosure complaint from a Florida Court. 35. On or about March 25, 2009, Brizard received an advertisement from Snyder

offering assistance with his mortgage default issues. The address on the advertisement was in Boca Raton, Florida. 36. On or after March 25, 2009, Brizard hired Snyder to assist him in the matter of his

mortgage default and paid a fee of $2,225.00 to Snyder. 37. On or before January 1, 2010, Brizard entered into a "Six Month Payment Plan"

with Aurora Loan Services which was to continue through June, 2010. 38. On or about January, 2010, Brizard became unemployed and informed Snyder of

his unemployment status. 39. On or about July 1, 2010, Snyder sent Brizard a letter instructing him to contact

Aurora Loan Services prior to the last payment on the "Six Month Payment Plan," said final payment having already been made. 40. On or after January 1, 2010, Brizard contacted Snyder's office frequently to

discuss his loan modification without any substantial legal assistance being provided to Brizard. 41. On or after June, 2010, Brizard was notified by GMAClFaslo, the holder of a

second mortgage on his property, of an offer of settlement. Brizard contacted Snyder to assist in the negotiation of settlement of the second mortgage. 42. On or after June, 2010, Snyder failed to provide legal assistance to Brizard

regarding the second mortgage account with GMAClFaslo.

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43.

On or about July 1, 2010, Snyder terminated the attorney/client relationship with

Brizard, without having resolved the loan modification with Aurora Loan Services or the -GMAClFaslo second mortgage issues. 44. of his fees. 45. 46. To date a refund has not been paid to Brizard. By acting in the manner alleged, Respondent violated Rule 1.3 of the Ohio Rules On or about September 13,2010, Brizard sent a letter to Snyder seeking a refund

of Professional Conduct by failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing Brizard. 47. By acting in the manner alleged, Respondent violated Rule 1.16(d) and (e) by

failing to protect the interests of Brizard and failing to allow reasonable time for Brizard to obtain new counsel before terminated his employmentas counsel for Brizard.

COUNT FOUR
(Farace Matter) 48. Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs 1 through

47, inclusive, of the First Amended Complaint as though fully rewritten herein. 49. On or about March 9, 2009, Anthony Farace ("Farace") contacted Respondent

regarding a foreclosure matter. 50. 51. Respondent agreed to represent Farace with regard to his foreclosure problem. Thereafter, Farace was contacted by "Jon" who represented that he was working

for Respondent. Jon informed Farace that a fee of $2,195.00 would be required for the representation.

52.

On March 9, 2009, Farace paid Respondent $1,400.00. On Apri12, 2009, Farace

paid an additional $795.00 to Respondent. 53. Respondent's office then provided Farace with the name of Lisa Santos, an

attorney in Boca Raton, Florida, as the attorney who would be handling his case. 54. From April, 2009, through March, 2011, neither Attorney Santos or Respondent

contacted Farace to keep him apprised of the status of his case. 55. The only contact Farace has had was from Jon, who kept telling Farace that his

case was being handled and "not to worry." 56. In May, 2011, Farace contacted Respondent who informed him that he had closed

his previous office and that Farace needed to speak with Attorney Santos regarding his case. 57. On September 19, 2011, Respondent sent Farace a letter informing him that he

needed to contact Attorney Santos regarding the legal aspects of his case. 58. By acting in the manner alleged, Respondent violated Rule 1.3 of the Ohio Rules Conduct by failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in

of Professional

representing Farace .. 59. By acting in the manner alleged, Respondent violated Rule 1.5(e) of the Ohio

Rules of Professional Conduct which requires the division of fees in proportion to the services performed and with full disclosure to the client by referring cases to out of state counsel and keeping a portion of the fee for himself without providing services that would reasonably justify keeping said funds or informing the client of any co-counsel relationship. 60. By acting in the manner alleged, and by failing to supervise the paralegals, case

analysts, and/or other non-lawyer assistants, including but not limited to Jonathan Evans (the

individual believed to be representing himself as "Jon" to Farace, Respondent violated Rule 5.3
of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires supervision of non-lawyer assistants. 61. By acting in the manner alleged, by taking cases and "fanning" them out to

attorneys in other jurisdictions, including but not limited to Lisa Santos, Respondent violated Rules 5.5 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits the multijurisdictional practice of law and the unauthorized practice of law.

COUNT FIVE (Division/Sharing of Fees) 62. Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs 1 through

61, inclusive, of the Complaint as though fully rewritten herein. 63. By acting in the manner alleged in Paragraph 17 of this Complaint, Respondent

violated Rule 1.5(e) of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct which requires the division of fees in proportion to the services performed and with full disclosure to the client by referring cases to out of state counsel and keeping a portion of the fee for himself without providing services that would reasonably justify keeping said funds or informing the client of any cocounsel relationship. 64. By acting in the manner alleged in Paragraph 14 of this Complaint, Respondent

violated Rule 5.4(a) by sharing fees with PIC, a company that is not a lawyer or law firm.

COUNT SIX (Supervision of Non-Lawyer Assistants) 65. Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs 1 through

64, inclusive, of the Complaint as though fully rewritten herein.

66.

By acting in the manner alleged in Paragraph 16 'of this Complaint, and by failing

to supervise the paralegals, case analysts, and/or other non-lawyer assistants employed by PIC, including but not limited to Jonathan Evans, Sharon Moore, and Barry McClowsky in the Feckner Matter as described in Count Two of this Complaint, Respondent violated Rule 5.3 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires supervision of non-lawyer assistants.

COUNT SEVEN (Professional Independence) 67. Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs 1 through

66, inclusive, of the Complaint as though fully rewritten herein. 68. By acting in the manner alleged in Paragraphs 13 and 14 of this Complaint, and

by failing to disclose the existence of his relationship with PIC to clients, including but not limited to the Wallaces and Feckner, Respondent violated Rule 5.4 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, which commands the professional independence of a lawyer.

COUNT EIGHT (Multijurisdictional/Unauthorized 69.

Practice)

Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs I through

68, inclusive, of the Complaint as though fully rewritten herein. 70. By acting in the manner alleged, by taking cases and "farming" them out to

attorneys in other jurisdictions, through his relationship with PIC, and by allegedly performing services for Brizard with regard to her foreclosure case filed in Florida Court without being licensed in Florida, Respondent violated Rules 5.5 of the Ohio Ru1es of Professional Conduct, which prohibits the multijurisdictional practice of law and the unauthorized practice of law.

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COUNT NINE
(Disclosure) 71. Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs 1 through

70, inclusive, of the Complaint as though fully rewritten herein. 72. By acting in the manner alleged in Paragraphs 9 through 14, and 16, and' by

failing to disclose the exact nature of his relationship with PIC to the Wallaces and Feckner, Respondent violated Rule 5.7 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires the disclosure of the lawyer's relationship with any firm or entity providing law related services.

COUNT TEN
(Non-cooperation 73. in Investigation)

Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs 1 through

72, inclusive, of the Complaint as though fully rewritten herein. 74. misleading During the investigation of these matters, Respondent knowingly made false or statements to the Grievance Committee and/or been uncooperative in the

investigation of these matters, including but not limited to refusing to meet with investigators and grievance committee members in June and July, 2010. 75. By acting in the manner alleged, Respondent violated Rule 8.1 of the Ohio Rules

of Professional Conduct, which commands cooperation and truthfulness in Bar Admissions and disciplinary matters.

COUNT ELEVEN
(Neglect) 76. Relator incorporates the statements and allegations made in Paragraphs 1 through

75, inclusive, of the Complaint as though fully rewritten herein.

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77.

By acting in the manner alleged and by failing to diligently and reasonably

represent the interests of Feckner and Brizard by failing to contact and/or work with their mortgage companies and/or with Feckner and .Brizard, Respondent violated Rule 1.3 of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires a lawyer to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

CONCLUSION

WHEREFORE, Relator requests that a Hearing Panel of the Board of Commissioners


on Grievance and Discipline of the Supreme Court find that the Respondent, Timothy H. Snyder, has violated the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct as alleged, and that the Board make an appropriate recommendation to the Supreme Court concerning the disciplinary action to be taken against Respondent for his conduct.

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Patricia J. Schraff(0006830) . r 2802 SOM Center Road, Ste. 200 ,,-_..:t ....-,,4 Willoughby Hills, OH 44094 -r '1r~vf -1-v,,,440-585-1600 Counsel for Relator

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(L __ Todd Petersen (0066945) 428 So~Street Chardon, OH 44024 440-279-4480 Counsel for Relator