Released for Publication March 3, 2015.
Minton, C.J; Abramson, Cunningham, Keller, Noble and Venters, JJ., sitting. All concur. Joseph E. Lambert, CHIEF JUSTICE.
OPINION AND ORDER
Joseph E. Lambert, CHIEF JUSTICE.
Suzanne P. Land was admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on June 3, 2005. Her bar roster address is 2231 Hawes Drive, Hebron, Kentucky 41048, and her KBA number is 90752. The Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Land from the practice of law on March 27, 2014. On June 9, 2014, the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) filed a petition asking this Court to order Land to show cause why we should not impose reciprocal discipline and, in the event we found cause lacking, to impose that discipline pursuant to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 3.435. On September 18, 2014, we issued a show cause order. Land has not responded; therefore, we grant the KBA's petition to impose reciprocal discipline.
Land's Ohio discipline arose from her handling of three estates. We briefly set forth below what occurred.
1. The Hassman Estate.
During his life James Hassman personally guaranteed lines of credit through First Financial Bank for two businesses, and he purchased a condominium. At the time of Hassman's death, there was an outstanding balance on the First Financial Bank lines of credit and an outstanding mortgage of approximately $800,000 on the condominium. The administrator of Hassman's estate transferred funds from one of the companies and depleted the estate account in order to pay off the mortgage. First Financial Bank then sued the estate and the estate brought a legal malpractice claim against Land and her law firm. In that malpractice claim, the estate alleged that Land had either directly advised the administrator to pay off the mortgage or had failed to advise the administrator against doing so. In her defense, Land claimed that she had advised the administrator against paying off the mortgage, and she fabricated an e-mail to that effect, making it look as if she had sent the e-mail
to the administrator two years earlier. During the malpractice litigation, a document examiner confirmed the fabrication, and Land eventually admitted to the fraud.
2. The Lienhart Estate.
As part of an estate plan for Frank Lienhart, Land drafted a limited liability operating agreement which was supposed to result in a savings in estate taxes. After Lienhart's death, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) found that the language in the operating agreement was deficient, and it denied the tax benefit, costing the estate approximately $200,000. Land then created an " amendment" to the operating agreement to correct the deficiency. She dated the amendment for a time prior to Lienhart's death; forged Lienhart's and his son's signatures on the amendment; and submitted the amendment to the IRS along with her affidavit authenticating the amendment. Land ultimately admitted to the fraud.
3. The Schloss Estate.
Land created a similar operating agreement for Milton Schloss and, because of the agreement's deficiencies, the estate suffered an additional $600,000 to $700,000 tax liability. As she did in the Lienhart estate, Land attempted to hide her mistake by creating an amendment to the operating agreement. Land sent to the IRS the fraudulent amendment, her affidavit authenticating the amendment, and letters to ...