Mark Chuparkoff, 45, of Copley pleaded not guilty last week to stealing money from a Butler County restaurant owner and his wife, according to court records.
Chuparkoff, whose practice was incorporated in Columbus but had an office in Akron, was charged in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court because he accepted the settlement check in Cuyahoga County, prosecutors say.
Chuparkoff represented a restaurant owner and his wife who sued a Southwest Ohio UrgentCare for malpractice in 2009, prosecutors say. After years of appeals, the UrgentCare offered the couple a $75,000 settlement in 2015, according to prosecutors and court records.
The attorney forged the restaurant owner's signature on a court document he filed Dec. 23, 2015 to accept the payout, which came in the form of a check made payable to Chuparkoff, prosecutors say.
He deposited the money into his account, but never told the restaurant owner or his family about the settlement, prosecutors say.
When investigators contacted the couple last year, they said they assumed the case was dismissed, prosecutors said.
The charges are the latest fallout in Chuparkoff's legal career, whose law license was suspended indefinitely in 2016 after the Ohio Supreme Court's Disciplinary Counsel found he posed "a substantial threat of serious harm to the public."
The statement came after the court's disciplinary arm investigated more than a dozen complaints filed against him by clients across the state.
Chuparkoff took money to represent victims throughout Ohio, and never carried out the work he promised to do on their cases, the court found.
One of Chuparkoff's victims, a Wickliffe police officer, reached out to Chuparkoff for consultation on filing an age discrimination and wrongful termination.
The counsel said it interviewed several people during the investigation and suspects that Chuparkoff may have been having "a problem with alcohol or gambling," according to court records.
Chuparkoff's license was suspended for 30 days in December 2015 after he failed to pay court-ordered child support.
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Disgraced Ohio lawyer charged with stealing clients' $75,000 settlement