The Indiana Supreme Court disbarred a northern Indiana attorney April 1 for violating the terms of a previous suspension, entering into an improper business transaction with a client, and engaging in dishonest conduct.
The justices unanimously disbarred Rodney P. Sniadecki, a sole practitioner in Mishawaka and South Bend, adopting the hearing officer's findings and proposed discipline.
Sniadecki has been disbarred based on the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission's three-count verified complaint. Count I says he failed to obey suspension obligations by not notifying all his active clients of his October 2007 suspension, making a false compliance affidavit with the Indiana Supreme Court in regards to providing written notice, and he maintained a presence in his law office while he was suspended. The evidence shows Sniadecki even accepted new clients and represented them during his suspension.
Sniadecki directed his legal secretary to forge several documents and gave false sworn statements to the Disciplinary Commission during its investigation of the instant case.
Under Count II, Sniadecki conducted an improper business transaction with a client. He misrepresented to his client that his law office property was for sale, so they entered into an oral agreement for her to purchase the property. She gave him $180,000 in cash, but then changed her mind after Sniadecki said her request to fully inspect the property would "ruin everything." Sniadecki provided his client with a promissory note to repay the money, which he used to purchase another property for his law office, but he failed to set up a payment schedule. Sniadecki continued to represent her for several months after the transaction until she fired him.
The third count says Sniadecki falsified loan documents and committed attempted obstruction of justice when trying to get a loan to repay the client through mortgages on his current law office and new law office properties. Because his wife was the owner of the new property, Sniadecki had his legal secretary forge wage and tax documents to help him have the mortgage approved.
After the commission initiated an investigation of a grievance against Sniadecki pertaining to the falsified loan documents, he asked the loan originator working on the mortgage to take responsibility for the forged documents. Sniadecki offered him a position in his law office, but the loan originator refused.
The justices agreed with the hearing officer that the witnesses were more credible than Sniadecki in the investigation. Sniadecki is disbarred for violating Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23(26); and Indiana Professional Rules of Conduct 1.8(a), 3.3(a), 3.4(c), 8.4(b), and 8.4(c). His disbarment is effective May 12.
Sniadecki was admitted to the bar in 1992. He was suspended in 2007 for having a sexual relationship with a client and initially lying to the commission about when it started; for hiring a suspended attorney to perform administrative, secretarial, and paralegal duties; and for representing a wife in a divorce action while still representing the wife and husband in a joint bankruptcy petition.