Fake lawyer gets 30 days in jail

GREENFIELD — An Indianapolis man will spend 30 days in jail for posing as an attorney and charging a Hancock County resident for legal advice, prosecutors said, despite being disbarred more than two decades ago.

Timothy P. O’Connor pleaded guilty to practicing law without a legal degree — an accolade investigators said was taken from him 25 years ago.

O’Connor’s guilty plea came as prosecutors were finalizing plans to take him to trial on the charge, a Class B misdemeanor, in Hancock County Superior Court 2. He was ordered to report the Hancock County Jail Monday morning to begin serving his sentence.

Prosecutors fielded a complaint in July from the victim, who said he became suspicious after hiring O’Connor as his attorney, investigators said.

The man had petitioned the state to expunge his criminal record, and he met with O’Connor several times for legal help, court documents state. O’Connor charged him $1,250, court documents state.

When the man’s court date came, O’Connor filed paperwork on his behalf but marked it “pro se,” meaning the man would be representing himself in the case without official attorney assistance, court documents state.

The victim told investigators that was the first time O’Connor indicated he might not be a practicing attorney. He sat in the spectator area of the courtroom rather than at the defense table with the victim, though he answered the man’s questions and offered legal instruction, prosecutors said at the time of the investigation.

Records show 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.

Prosecutors said O’Connor never petitioned the state to be readmitted to the bar, meaning he cannot legally practice law, investigators said.

At the time of O’Connor’s arrest in September, Prosecutor Brent Eaton said he was concerned others might have fallen victim to the scheme.

Investigators with the prosecutor’s office conducted several interviews with community members, but no additional charges were pressed against O’Connor, Eaton said.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.