The former clerk of Lake County who used federal funds to pay himself bonuses has been suspended from the practice of law after the Indiana Supreme Court found he had betrayed the public’s trust and violated both his oath of office and of attorneys.
A majority on the Supreme Court agreed to suspend attorney Thomas Philpot for four years without automatic reinstatement. However, Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justice Brent Dickson dissented, believing Philpot should be disbarred.
Philpot has been under an order of interim suspension since June 15, 2013. The Supreme Court issued this suspension Tuesday in In the Matter of: Thomas R. Philpot, 45S00-1304-DI-224.
Philpot was charged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana with three counts on mail fraud and two counts of theft from a federally funded program. After post-trial proceedings, Philpot was adjudicated guilty on two counts of mail fraud and one count of theft and was sentenced to 18 months and fined $10,000. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his convictions.
As mitigating factors, the parties cited Philpot’s lack of prior discipline and his cooperation with the Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission as well as his repayment with interest of the federal monies.
The Supreme Court ruled Philpot’s criminal act reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer, and that he violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 8.4(b).
The majority accepted the proposal from both Philpot and the commission that he be suspended from the practice of law for at least four years without automatic reinstatement. After four years, Philpot may petition for reinstatement.