Submitted September 11, 2019
CERTIFIED REPORT by the Board of Professional Conduct of the
Supreme Court, No. 2018-071.
M. Caligiuri, Disciplinary Counsel, and Donald M. Scheetz,
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, for relator.
Coughlan Law Firm, L.L.C., and Jonathan Edward Coughlan, for
1} Respondent, Matthew Gilbert Bruce, of West
Chester, Ohio, Attorney Registration No. 0083769, was
admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 2008.
2} In a formal complaint filed with the Board of
Professional Conduct on December 27, 2018, relator,
disciplinary counsel, charged Bruce with four violations of
the Rules of Professional Conduct relating to his attempts to
collect money owed to him pursuant to a residential lease
3} The parties entered into stipulations of fact,
misconduct, and aggravating and mitigating factors.
4} A panel of the board conducted a hearing and
issued a report finding that Bruce committed the stipulated
violations and recommending that he be suspended from the
practice of law for one year, fully stayed on the condition
that he engage in no further misconduct. The board adopted
the panel's report and recommendation, and no objections
have been filed.
5} We adopt the board's findings of misconduct
and agree that a conditionally stayed one-year suspension is
the appropriate sanction for Bruce's misconduct.
6} On November 30, 2012, Bruce entered into an
agreement with Laura and Greg Zetts to lease a residential
property Bruce owned in Medina, Ohio. The lease agreement
included an option to purchase the property, and Bruce
entered into a purchase agreement with the Zettses on March
31, 2017. The Zettses purchased the property on May 31, 2017.
7} In the meantime, Bruce had not received rent
payments from the Zettses for April and May 2017. Although
the Zettses had issued five checks to Bruce to pay the rent
due, each of those checks was returned for insufficient
8} Following the sale of the property, Bruce began
to e-mail and call the Zettses regarding their outstanding
rent payments. On June 12, 2017, having received no response,
Bruce sent Laura an e-mail to inform her that he would file a
civil action against her if he did not receive payment by
June 19. The e-mail further stated: "As I'm sure you
are aware, under Ohio law, it is a felony to pass bad checks
in the amount you have bounced in my accounts over the last
six months. * * * [Y]ou have failed to deposit good funds to