Submitted May 21, 2019
Certified Report by the Board of Professional Conduct of the
Supreme Court, No. 2017-019.
Neidenthal & Logan, L.P.A., and Amy L. Bostic; and Kent
R. Markus, Bar Counsel, for relator.
Christopher William Striff Jr., pro se.
1} Respondent, Christopher William Striff Jr., of
Delta, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0085421, was admitted
to the practice of law in Ohio in November 2009.
2} In a formal seven-count complaint certified to
the Board of Professional Conduct on April 6, 2017, relator,
Columbus Bar Association, alleged that Striff had committed
multiple violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and
a violation of the Rules for the Government of the Bar. The
allegations were related to his representation of five
clients who sought bankruptcy protection, his fraudulent
alteration of checks issued to him by bankruptcy trustees,
and his failure to cooperate with the ensuing disciplinary
investigation. Because Striff did not answer the complaint or
respond to a show-cause order issued by this court, on July
7, 2017, we issued an interim default-suspension order
pursuant to Gov.Bar R. V(14)(B). 150 Ohio St.3d 1293,
2017-Ohio-5736, 83 N.E.3d 933. Striff failed to file an
affidavit of compliance as was required by the suspension
order, and on August 25, 2017, we issued an order to show
cause why he should not be found in contempt.
3} On September 11, 2017, Striff s participation in
the case began when, in response to the court's August
show-cause order, he filed an affidavit of compliance. The
affidavit indicated that Striff had closed his law practice
as of April 1, 2016. He also supplied a new address to the
board and the court.
4} In December 2017, Striff submitted a motion for
leave to file an answer instanter, which we granted on
February 2, 2018, and we remanded the cause to the board for
further proceedings, 151 Ohio St.3d 1516, 2018-Ohio-414, 90
5} While the case was pending before the board, this
court entered a second interim suspension order on August 28,
2018, based upon notification that Striff had been convicted
of two counts of felony forgery (for altering checks from
bankruptcy trustees, as mentioned above) and one count of
felony theft. 156 Ohio St.3d 1228, 2018-Ohio-3447, 125 N.E.3d
957. Relator filed an amended complaint on August 31, 2018,
adding an additional count based on Striff s theft conviction
and adding the new information regarding his forgery
convictions for altering checks. Striff filed his answer to
the amended complaint on September 5, 2018.
6} The parties submitted written stipulations and
numerous exhibits for the board's consideration. The
stipulations set forth the facts relating to Striff s
misconduct, the professional-conduct rules that were
violated, the restitution owed to the named clients, the
applicable aggravating and mitigating factors, Striff s
history of substance abuse and treatment, the terms of Striff
s contract with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program
("OLAP"), and a proposed sanction.
7} A three-member panel of the board conducted a
hearing on February 7, 2019, at which Striff and his parents
testified. Based on the stipulations, the testimony, and the
exhibits, the panel made findings of fact and agreed with the
parties that Striff had committed the charged misconduct.
After considering the relevant mitigating and aggravating
factors, the panel recommended adoption of the parties'
proposed sanction of an indefinite suspension.
8} The board adopted the panel's findings of
fact, conclusions of law, and recommended sanction, and no
objections have been filed.
9} We adopt the board's report and
recommendation and indefinitely suspend Striff from the
practice of law in Ohio.
Bankruptcy filings on behalf of Leah Davis, Eric Ebert, and
Ebony Davis-Counts One through Three of the amended
10} Counts One through Three of the amended
complaint relate to Striff s representation of three separate
clients: Leah Davis, Eric Ebert, and Ebony Davis. Striff
filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions on behalf of all three
and, although Striff had received the full $310 Chapter 13
bankruptcy filing fee from each client in advance, he
petitioned the court to pay the filing fee in installments,
but then failed to pay the installments to the court. The
bankruptcy court dismissed Leah Davis's and Eric
Ebert's cases for nonpayment of the fee. Ebert rehired
Striff after the first dismissal and gave Striff an
additional $310 to pay the filing fee for a new bankruptcy
case. Although Striff did file the new case, he again
petitioned for and received permission to pay the fee in
installments, after which he again failed to pay the
installment amounts. The result was that Ebert's second
case was dismissed.
11} In the third case (Ebony Davis's), the
client paid the fee directly after receiving a delinquency
notice, but the case was later dismissed for failure to
prosecute, including failure to present a confirmable Chapter
13 bankruptcy plan.
12} In all three cases, the clients ultimately hired
new counsel, who filed new bankruptcy actions on their
behalf. Leah Davi s's new attorney reported Striff s
actions to the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court issued
an order requiring Striff to respond in writing and to appear
for a hearing to explain why he should not be suspended from
practicing before the bankruptcy court; Striff did not
respond to the order and did not ...