Suspended Troy lawyer Christopher Bucio was sentenced Jan. 20 in a Shelby County court to five years of community control and a $5,000 fine for a felony conviction involving land taken from a client.
Bucio, 38, pleaded guilty Nov. 30 in Shelby County Common Pleas Court in Sidney to one count of unauthorized use of property.
The charge stemmed from a 2010 incident with a client who hired him to represent her in a drug-related case. The woman said she didn’t have the money to pay but had farm land that could be sold to pay.
Bucio was accused of selling the 22 acres and then keeping all the money despite representing the woman only a short time before the case was resolved.
The woman received a check days before the sentencing as part of a restitution settlement agreement, her lawyer Jeremy Tomb told visiting Judge Timothy Campbell. Tomb said after sentencing the amount of restitution was confidential as part of the agreement.
Bucio told Campbell he was “humbled” by the experience and learned a lot the past seven years.
"Clearly, I would have done things differently," he said. "I am really regretful."
Matthew Donahue, an assistant Ohio attorney general who handled the prosecution, said that although prison was not likely under sentencing guidelines, the court could order community control with added sanctions such as local jail time or electronically monitored house arrest.
“One thing we have not heard is a simple, ‘I’m sorry,’” Donahue said. "It is a dark day for our profession and an even darker day for the victim.”
Tomb said the victim was in a “vulnerable state” facing high bail when she met with Bucio about her case.
“She understood he would take the fees (from the land sale) and pay her back the difference,” Tomb said, adding that didn’t occur. “She repeatedly tried to contact him … He stalled her out.”
The victim attended the hearing but did not speak and declined comment.
Campbell, a Greene County judge appointed to hear Bucio’s case, said behavior such as that displayed by Bucio “is bad for the entire system.” He added he hoped the case “will demonstrate to people there is some justice.”
If Bucio violates the condition of his community control, which will be monitored by the Shelby County adult court services, he faces up to 17 months in prison.
Bucio’s license to practice was suspended on an interim basis Jan. 9 by the Ohio Supreme Court. The court referred the case for disciplinary proceedings.
He previously practiced with the law firm of Roberts, Kelly and Bucio with offices in Miami County, including Tipp City, and other area counties. The firm now is known as Roberts and Kelly.