INDIANAPOLIS | A former Highland-based attorney who bilked a non-English speaking client out of $24,000 has been suspended from practicing law for at least three years.
The Indiana Supreme Court voted 5-0 to suspend Jerry I. Shapiro for violating eight separate rules of professional conduct, including "engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation."
According to the court's order, Shapiro was hired in 2006 by the daughter of a deceased Lake County woman to handle the probate of her mother's estate, consisting of a home and two bank accounts. The daughter, the sole beneficiary, lives in Poland and has limited ability to communicate in English, according to the court.
Shapiro had the home sold but failed to close the estate, pay state inheritance taxes, file an inventory, respond to the daughter's requests for information and made unauthorized payments of $24,000 to himself from the estate's assets, the order said. After the daughter hired a new attorney, Shapiro ignored a court order requiring him to give the records of the estate to the new attorney, resulting in a warrant being issued for Shapiro's arrest, the order said.
Contacted Monday by The Times, Shapiro said he had no comment in response to the suspension.
Shapiro, who lives in Munster, is suspended from practicing law until at least Nov. 30, 2013. He will have to ask for and receive approval from the Indiana Supreme Court to resume his practice after that date.
He also is separately suspended in a previous discipline case for failing to complete legal education requirements, pay dues and cooperate with the court's Disciplinary Commission.