LOGAN — It has been recommended by the Ohio Supreme Court’s disciplinary board that local defense attorney, Jason Sarver, be permanently disbarred in the State of Ohio.
An order to show cause was filed on Feb. 14 with the Supreme Court of Ohio. The order states: “The board recommends that, pursuant to Gov.Bar R. V (12)(A) (1), Jason Allan Sarver, Attorney Registration No. –82-73, be permanently disbarred from the practice of law in Ohio.”
Sarver has been in the news numerous times and not in a positive light. In February 2016, Sarver was arrested and arraigned on two charges of sexual battery; soon after, multiple charges were filed including intimidation of an attorney; obstructing justice; trafficking in drugs; breaking and entering; theft from a person in a protected class; bribery; and having weapons under disability.
Later in 2016, Sarver accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to two years of community control after pleading guilty to four misdemeanor charges in Hocking County Common Pleas Court. He pled guilty to one count of obstructing official business and three counts of criminal trespassing. Sarver was also court-ordered to pay $1,250 in fines; and to stay away from the victim.
In 2018, the Supreme Court suspended Sarver’s license for two years. But contrary to the board’s recommendation, the Court ordered Sarver to serve an actual suspension of six months and stayed the remaining 18 months with conditions that he comply with his Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program contract.
In addition, he had to pass the Multi-state Professional Responsibility Exam, complete an additional 12 hours of continuing legal education focused on professional ethics or attorney-client relationships, serve two years of monitored probation, and commit no further misconduct.
However, in 2019, Sarver found himself in the middle of another situation with the Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court Disciplinary Counsel.
According to court documents received by The Logan Daily News, Sarver allegedly continued practicing law during the time in which his license was suspended.
His license was suspended on Nov. 28, 2018 for a period of two years, with 18 months stayed on condition that he comply with his Dec. 12, 2017 OLAP contract; take the multi-state professional responsibility exam and receive a passing score; complete 12 hours of continuing legal education in professional ethics or attorney-client relationships in addition to the requirements of Gov.Bar R. X; serve a two-year period of monitored probation in accordance with Gov.Bar R. V (21); and engage in no further misconduct.
Prior to his suspension, a Cleveland family retained Sarver to file a wrongful death action lawsuit, where a family member had died as the result of an automobile accident. From June 25, 2018 through Dec. 13, 2018, Sarver only communicated over the telephone and had not met the family face-to-face.
During this time, the insurance company settled with a $50,000 settlement, with all the proceeds from the settlement, minus his attorney fees and reimbursement for any advanced costs, being held in trust for the deceased woman’s minor child. Sarver accepted the settlement offer on behalf of the family.
The money was allegedly to have been disbursed as — $500 for fiduciary fees; $16,665 for attorney fees; and $32,835 to a trust for the minor child. However, there was no paperwork filed with the Cuyahoga County Probate Court on behalf of the family.
While all of these transactions were taking place, Sarver still had his license intact. It wasn’t until he was suspended on Nov. 28, 2018, that this case became an issue. Sarver, at that time, failed to notify the family and the Crime Victim Services that his license had been suspended. He also failed to notify the insurance company of his suspension.
According to the documents, on Nov. 30, 2018 (two days after his suspension) Sarver allegedly forged a family member’s signature on the settlement release ($50,000) to the insurance company and falsely notarized his own signature.
On Dec. 26, 2018, Sarver filed an affidavit of compliance with the Supreme Court of Ohio regarding his suspension. In the affidavit, he falsely stated that he had notified all clients of his suspension via certified mail and that he had also notified all courts where he had pending cases.
The family Sarver was representing in the wrongful death action suit had no idea his license was suspended. Due to his actions of continuing to represent the family even after his license was suspended and not informing the family that his license was suspended, Sarver violated the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically:
• failing to notify family of his suspension;
• failing to provide the family the file upon termination of his representation;
• failing to notify the family of his suspension in accordance with the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Nov. 28, 2018 suspension order and by paying himself attorney fees without probate court approval in violation of Cuyahoga County Probate Court Local Rule 71.1;
• continuing to act on behalf of the family with both the insurance company and the Crime Victim Services Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office after his suspension;
• by advising relator that a magistrate had told him that he could disburse settlement money prior to probate court approval and that he should try to make the disbursement to the minor child less than $25,000;
• misrepresenting the family had personally appeared before him when he notarized the release, by forging the family member’s signature on the back of the settlement check and possibly the settlement release, and by advising the Supreme Court of Ohio in his affidavit of compliance that he had notified all courts and clients of his suspension; and
• failing to take appropriate action upon his suspension from law thus delaying the administration of the probate estate by at least six months.
Sarver, who is a Rockbridge resident and attorney, is the former New Straitsville Village Solicitor and Village Solicitor for the Village of Corning.
Based upon all the evidence presented to the Board of Professional Conduct, the panel found that Sarver engaged in professional misconduct. Due to the evidence, the Board recommends Sarver be permanently disbarred from practicing law in the State of Ohio, and ordered him to pay the costs of the proceedings.
The Logan Daily News will keep its readers informed as more information is released from the Ohio State Supreme Court.