Shelbyville attorney suspended after secretary’s felony theft

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A Shelbyville lawyer whose legal secretary was convicted of felony theft and fraud charges has been suspended for 60 days for his failure to supervise the secretary’s actions.

Attorney James Lisher’s attorney discipline case traces all the way back to 2001, when he hired nonlawyer Heather Brant to work for him at the Lisher Law Office in Shelbyville. Brant worked for Lisher until 2018 and was given “broad authority” to handle tasks including client communication, banking and electronic filing.

But in 2018, Brant stile thousands of dollars from the firm’s operating account, overdrafted its trust account and created several fraudulent court orders and other legal documents. Lisher did not maintain appropriate trust account records, a Thursday discipline order says, so “Brant’s improper actions were enabled in significant part by Respondent’s failure to appropriately supervise her.”

Online court records show Brant pleaded guilty last October to theft, identity deception and fraud on a financial institution, all as Level 5 felonies.

She was sentenced to concurrent terms of 2,190 days in the Department of Correction, with 2,189 days suspended and one day executed. She was given one day of actual credit and was ordered to serve 2,189 days on probation.

Brant was also ordered to pay $178,387.16 in restitution. Of that amount, $72,790.96 was to be paid to Lisher.

A compliance hearing in Brant’s case is set for 8:30 a.m. July 16 in Johnson Superior Court 2.

“The parties cite Respondent’s substantial experience in the practice of law as a fact in aggravation,” the Indiana Supreme Court wrote in the discipline order. “In mitigation the parties cite among other things Respondent’s lack of prior discipline, his lack of dishonest or selfish motive, his restitution to affected clients, and his cooperation with the disciplinary process.”

Lisher was found to have violated five Indiana Professional Conduct and Admission and Discipline Rules: Rule 1.5(a), Rule 5.3(b), Rule 23(29)(a)(3), Rule 23(29)(a)(7) and Rule 23(29)(c)(7).

The parties agreed on the 60-day suspension with automatic reinstatement in In the Matter of: James R. Lisher, 19S-DI-535.

The costs of the proceeding were assessed against Lisher.

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