Ohio Supreme Court fines Northeast Ohio woman $10,000 for practicing law without a license
The Ohio Supreme Court fined a Northeast Ohio woman $10,000 on Thursday for practicing law without a license.
Erica Schwab, 34, prepared a will for a 93-year-old Navy veteran and Massillon resident after she told her then-fiancé and his family that she was an attorney, according to the high court.
Schwab has never been licensed or authorized to practice law in Ohio, according to the Ohio Supreme Court. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel brought the complaint against Schwab to the Board on the Unauthorized Practice of Law.
Neither Schwab nor her Akron-based attorney who represented her in a Stark County case could be reached for comment.
The disciplinary counsel unsuccessfully attempted to notify Schwab about the complaint throughout 2019 at an address in Twinsburg. Subsequent court records list her address in Cuyahoga Falls and Stow.
She received the notice of the charges while in the Stark County jail, days after she was indicted on a felony charge of receiving stolen property.
According to the Ohio Supreme Court, this is how the case unfolded:
In January 2018, Schwab told her fiancé at the time that she was an attorney, and that she could assist him in legal matters and serve as the attorney for his church. She reportedly prepared a “minor-flight agreement” for the man, who was a pilot.
In March 2018, the former fiancé introduced Schwab to his stepfather, a 93-year-old Massillon resident. Schwab told the Massillon man she was a lawyer and could prepare a living will-advanced healthcare directive, a will and other legal documents for him. Without the man’s permission, she contacted his insurance agent to obtain a copy of his deceased wife’s life insurance policy, telling the agent she was the Massillon man’s attorney.
About a week after the Massillon man signed the documents Schwab prepared, his stepdaughter filed a report with the Jackson Township Police Department accusing Schwab of stealing jewelry, money and prescription drugs from the Massillon man’s home. The complaint led to the receiving stolen property charge and, ultimately, a guilty finding.
The stepdaughter also filed a grievance against Schwab with the disciplinary counsel, alleging Schwab was practicing law without a license.
The board determined, and the supreme court agreed, her actions were flagrant enough to warrant the maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine for each charge. The Ohio Supreme Court ordered Schwab to pay the penalty and to stop any unauthorized practice of law.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org