Special needs trust lawyer faces another theft charge

A suspended Indianapolis attorney who specialized in establishing special needs trusts before he was accused of stealing from those clients is facing felony theft charges in another Indiana county.

Kenneth S. Service, 45, was charged last month with Class D felony theft in Delaware County, where he is accused of stealing $23,622 from a former client, authorities said Thursday.

The charge accuses Service of exerting unauthorized control over the property of an alleged victim between April 30, 2014 and June 18, 2016. The alleged victim had been the subject of a guardianship established in 2003 when she was a minor. Online court records show Service was removed as trustee of the guardianship in December 2016.

Service was suspended from the practice of law in June 2017 for noncooperation with an investigation into a grievance filed against him, and he was suspended indefinitely the following October.

The disciplinary complaints against Service came after he was charged in December 2016 with stealing more than $85,000 from two clients in Lawrence County. Service faces a charge of Level 5 felony theft in that case and has a trial date of Aug. 1 at the courthouse in Bedford.

Service, who court records show is now representing himself in the criminal matter in Lawrence County, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Authorities said last year they feared Service’s alleged financial crimes could be widespread, with a law enforcement investigator warning of the possibility of “multiple victims in multiple states.”

Service was the founder of Carmel-based National Foundation for Special Needs Integrity Inc., before he was fired from the organization in 2014. Special Needs Integrity was ordered by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in February to repay the estate of a woman more than $234,000 that the organization took from her trust account after she died in 2011.

In that case, National Foundation for Special Needs Integrity, Inc. v. Devon Reese, as Personal Representative for the Estate of Theresa A. Givens, 17-1817, Circuit Judge David Hamilton wrote, “…(W)e must note that the Foundation’s (former) counsel, (Kenneth) Shane Service, testified that he intentionally drafted (a section of Special Needs Integrity’s agreement dealing with distributions upon the death of a beneficiary) to confuse Missouri government officials.”

Service is scheduled to appear for an initial hearing before Delaware Circuit Judge Marianne Vorhees on July 25 at the courthouse in Muncie to face his latest criminal charge.

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