The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

UA professor accused of stealing from elderly woman

“Thomas Watkins: attorney at law, University of Akron professor, and … mailman? A political science professor, Watkins is now in danger of being disbarred. The charges came after Watkins reportedly charged a client $15,000 for opening and reading her mail, in addition to other duties.”

Thomas Watkins: attorney at law, University of Akron professor, and … mailman?

A political science professor, Watkins is now in danger of being disbarred. The charges came after Watkins reportedly charged a client $15,000 for opening and reading her mail, in addition to other duties.

However, Watkins has made quite a bit more than the average mailman.

From June 2002 until Feb. 2004, Watkins allegedly illegally paid himself a total of $46,294.33 from a trust he wrote.

Watkins is under scrutiny by the Akron Bar Association after he was hired in June 2002 as Virginia Irene Radabaugh’s trustee and financial power of attorney. Radabaugh, 74, had a stroke and lost the ability to read or write, though she was still mentally competent.

According to Ohio Supreme Court documents, the Akron Bar Association filed four charges against Watkins – one count of preserving identity of funds of client, one count of charging excessive fees to clients, and two counts of misconduct.

Watkins is scheduled to teach two upper level classes this fall, The Supreme Court & Civil Liberties and Constitutional Problems in Criminal Justice. It has not yet been determined if Watkins will keep his position at UA following the outcome of the hearing.

Political science department chairman David Louscher said he was familiar with the case against Watkins.

I can’t really comment about the court case, he said. That would just be the wrong thing to do.

He was part time for the department since the fall of 2002. He does a really good job for us and has had really excellent teacher reviews.

Radabaugh signed a revocable living trust, which was written by Watkins, appointing him as her trustee. The document allowed him to pay himself from her assets without providing monthly invoices in advance.

Radabaugh did not have separate counsel, nor did Watkins advise her to seek the advice of separate counsel, according to court documents.

Watkins was hired at an hourly rate of $150.

Some payments listed in the ABA charges include 137 entries at three-quarters of an hour each for mail pick-up and review, totaling $15,412.50. He also billed her for attending a six-hour Elder Care CLE seminar and another six for attending a Medicaid CLE seminar, the ABA report said.

Watkins was reported to the ABA after attorney Alen Segedy was hired by Radabaugh to represent her in the sale of her home and estate matters. Segedy requested a copy of Watkins attorney’s fees agreements and invoices in November and October.

According to the charges, Segedy was not aware of any legal work done on Radabaugh’s behalf since the trust was created and questioned how Watkins could pay himself in excess of $40,000 in a 20-month period.

The Akron Bar Association report requested that any disciplinary actions taken against Watkins be determined after the hearings.

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