GREENFIELD — An Indianapolis man posed as a lawyer and charged at least one Hancock County resident for legal advice, despite being disbarred more than 25 years ago for taking clients’ money without acting on their cases, investigators said.
Timothy P. O’Connor turned himself in to police Monday morning. He is charged with practicing law without a legal degree, a Class B misdemeanor. Now, investigators with the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office say they are on the lookout for others who received legal service from a man not qualified to give it.
Prosecutors fielded a complaint in July from a Greenfield man who said he became suspicious after hiring O’Connor as his attorney, according to Thomas Zentz, an investigator with the prosecutor’s office.
O’Connor was hired to appear in court with the man as he petitioned the state to expunge his criminal record. O’Connor met with the man several times and charged him $1,250 for his legal help, court documents state.
When the time came to appear in court, however, all the paperwork O’Connor filed on the man’s behalf was marked “pro se,” meaning the man would be representing himself in the case without official attorney assistance, court documents state.
That was the first time the man had any indication O’Connor might not be a practicing attorney, Zentz said. O’Connor sat in the spectator area of the courtroom rather than at the defense table with his client, though he answered the man’s questions and offered legal instruction.
O’Connor was admitted to the Indiana Bar Association in 1972 and was disbarred in 1990. Indiana Supreme Court records indicate O’Connor took money to pursue a custody case then failed to provide any legal assistance to his client.
Disbarred attorneys can petition the state to be readmitted to the bar, but there is no evidence to suggest O’Connor has done so, meaning he cannot practice law, Prosecutor Brent Eaton said.
Eaton’s investigators are now looking into other legal work O’Connor might have done in Hancock County.
“It stands to reason it wasn’t an isolated incident,” he said.
O’Connor could not be reached for comment.