A Seymour attorney who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and who is facing a felony fraud charge has been suspended from the practice of law in Indiana because of his mental disability.
Stephen S. Pierson, 69, was suspended, effective Nov. 6, after the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed an emergency petition for interim suspension on Aug. 2. His formal suspension this week came after Pierson was charged with one count of Level 6 felony aiding, inducing or causing welfare fraud.
An investigation by the Family and Social Services Administration found that Pierson had paid an office assistant in cash so that she could receive food stamps and Medicaid benefits for herself and her family. The office assistant, Teresa Cantu, is also charged with Level 6 felony welfare fraud, as well as Level 6 felony perjury. Because of Pierson’s actions, the Jackson County charges allege that Cantu collected $6,526.47 in fraudulent benefits.
After the emergency suspension of his license, Pierson testified during the disciplinary proceedings that he was disabled, and Robert C. Reiling, the appointed hearing officer, recommended that a disability suspension be imposed on his license.
In addition to the disability suspension, the commission had been investigating Pierson for more than a year, with Jackson Superior Judge Bruce MacTavish telling the commission in June 2015 that Pierson’s cognitive condition had left him impaired “to the extent that he cannot adequately represent his clients.” Pierson has denied all allegations against him, and his attorney, Don Lundberg, wrote in a reply that the accusations against Pierson were based on “vague, second-hand hearsay.”