Lawyer sanctioned for failure to appear in teen’s homicide trial

Keywords Courts / Law Firms

An Indianapolis attorney must pay a $1,000 fine for failing to appear in federal court to defend a teen being tried as an adult in an alleged gang-related killing and an armed robbery of a Broad Ripple-area pharmacy.

Attorney Ralph W. Staples, Jr., was sanctioned Monday for missing two court dates to represent Dayonta McClinton, who faces four federal charges. McClinton is accused of fatally shooting Malik Perry on or around October 13, 2015, after he allegedly robbed Perry of stolen prescription drugs. McClinton also is charged with armed robbery and firing a gun during the robbery of a CVS drugstore near 62nd Street and College Avenue around the same time.

McClinton was a juvenile at the time of the crimes that have been linked to a criminal gang known as “The Mob,” which federal authorities accused of using juveniles to rob pharmacies of controlled substances that then were sold on the street. 

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Josh Minkler last year charged nine adult members of The Mob with racketeering, along with several juveniles whose names were not released. The indictment alleged the gang used juveniles it called “peons” to carry out at least two dozen pharmacy robberies around Indianapolis from December 2014 to June 2016. The gang robbed pharmacies of opioids that Minkler said were sold on the street for up to $15 per pill.

Staples, who no longer represents McClinton, was previously sanctioned $500 in McClinton’s case for failing to appear at both a status conference and a subsequent show cause hearing. “Within a very short period, that conduct repeated itself,” Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch wrote in a report adopted Monday by Southern District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. The judge accepted the magistrate judge’s recommendations, sanctioning Staples an additional $1,000 and ordering the sum paid within 14 days.

“Mr. Staples failed to appear on July 25, 2018, for his client’s initial hearing upon transfer for adult prosecution. The court therefore issued an order for Mr. Staples to appear on August 7, 2018, to show cause for that failure. Mr. Staples failed to appear for that show cause hearing,” McVicker-Lynch wrote. “This pattern of conduct has inconvenienced the court, the government and its agents, and the United States Marshal. It has also likely not inspired confidence in his client. The sanction previously entered and paid has not had a deterrent effect.”

Staples could not be immediately reached for comment. 

Staples has been disciplined by the Indiana Supreme Court multiple times, including two disciplinary actions for failing to appear for hearings in cases. Court records show he was suspended for 30 days and placed on probation for two years in 2012, and he also was reprimanded in 2017.

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