Criminal Justice

Ex-lawyer who had aide forge lawyers' names on documents gets 4-year suspended prison term


A successful lawyer with political ambitions, Rodney P. Sniadecki saw his legal career spiral downward after the Indiana Supreme Court suspended (PDF) his law license for six months in 2007.

He kept on practicing, according to a 2010 supreme court opinion (PDF), which disbarred him for this and other conduct, including having his assistant forge other lawyers’ names on documents. The court found not credible the attorney’s claim that his assistant had committed the forgeries without his knowledge.

Then the 47-year-old was convicted by a jury in September of three felony forgery counts, apparently concerning some of the same conduct at issue in the legal ethics case, according to the South Bend Tribune (reg. req.).

At a Wednesday sentencing hearing, Sniadecki and his wife, who is a former client, pleaded that his income from his current manual labor job is needed to help support his family. Deputy prosecutor Micah Cox argued for jail time, saying that the “facts and circumstances of this case tear at the fabric of the legal system and the public’s trust in it.”

St. Joseph Circuit Court Magistrate Larry Ambler gave Sniadecki four years on each of the forgery convictions, but suspended the prison terms, which are to run concurrently. Two of the four years are to be served as non-reporting probation, the Tribune reported.

“I think you committed these acts because you set up a financial lifestyle you and your family grew accustomed to,” Ambler said. “You had to keep the money machine going.”

Attorney Len Zappia represented Sniadecki in the case.

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