The Indiana Supreme Court named Robert D. Neary to serve as interim LaPorte County prosecutor beginning Aug. 1, when prosecutor Robert C. Szilagyi will start serving a 60-day suspension for forgery.
The court released an order dated June 29 appointing Neary, the county’s chief deputy prosecutor, to serve in Szilagyi’s stead. The court on June 20 suspended Szilagyi for forging the names of his ex-wife and secretary on a quitclaim deed on the former couple’s home.
Neary will carry out the functions of the office and be paid the prosecutor’s salary while Szilagyi is barred from practicing law, the order says. Szilagyi said in a statement after his suspension was announced that he intends to resume fulfilling the duties of office when his suspension is completed in October.
Szilagyi was suspended for forging the names of his ex-wife and secretary on a quitclaim deed on the former couple’s marital home.
The June 20 order said that Szilagyi, who became the prosecuting attorney in December 2010, sought to refinance the home, which he was awarded in his 2009 divorce. After the divorce, his ex-wife had her name restored to her name prior to the marriage. Szilagyi’s secretary prepared a quitclaim deed for the ex-wife to sign using her restored name instead of the married name as was on the title. The ex-wife signed it without it being notarized.
The day of closing, Szilagyi saw his ex-wife had signed her restored name, so he asked his secretary to prepare a new deed. He then signed without their knowledge his ex-wife’s married name and his secretary’s name as the notary, using her notary stamp. His secretary was investigated by the Indiana secretary of state as a result of the notarization.
According to the order, Szilagyi forged the signatures to avoid “an unpleasant conversation” with his former wife explaining that he needed her help. The parties also cited that Szilagyi – who has been practicing for more than 30 years – should have known how his actions can impugn the reputation of lawyers and the legal community.
The justices found Szilagyi violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(c), engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and 8.4(d), engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.