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Attorney gets slate wiped clean

A former Ironton attorney’s request to have his 2002 criminal case sealed was granted Wednesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Richard Wolfson had asked the court to seal his criminal record stemming from the 2002 overdose death of a client at Wolfson’s Park Avenue office/ home.

Wolfson was charged with tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice in connection with the death.

On Dec. 11, 2002, he entered a plea of no contest to the tampering with evidence charge and was sentenced to three years in prison. That sentence was suspended and he was placed on five years community control sanctions and ordered to complete a six- month rehabilitation program at the STAR Community Justice Center.

After serving 154 days at STAR, a motion was made to revoke his probation after authorities there found he had a dime (STAR inmates are forbidden from having money) and he instead completed the six- month stint in the Lawrence County Jail.

Portsmouth attorney Mike Mearan, who represents Wolfson, said in his application to the court that Wolfson has been a model of rehabilitation, has completed all of his probation requirements and paid all of his fines and court costs.

Mearan said Wolfson has regained his license to practice law and is being monitored by the Ohio Lawyers’ Assistance Program. He has been clean and sober for more than seven years.

“As part of his practice he devotes many hours to pro bono representation. At no time has he diminished the seriousness of his offense,” Mearan wrote.

Ohio Revised Code 2953.31 and 2953.32 allows first time felony offenders to apply for the sealing of conviction three years after their final discharge.

Sealing, also known as expungement, allows the person convicted of a crime to have that conviction essentially taken off their record.

When applying for a job, for instance, he or she would be legally entitled to say they have never been convicted of a felony.

Mearan said on his 50th birthday, Wolfson tried to visit Canada and was denied entrance.

He was told his criminal background contained a parole violation. Mearan said the violation was likely related to his dismissal from STAR.

Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. called Wolfson’s rehabilitation a “success story” and said Wolfson had even thanked him Wednesday for saving his life by prosecuting him, a move that forced Wolfson to face his drug problem.

“He at that time had gotten into so much trouble and was so strung out on drugs, he was a mess and had no business practicing law,” Collier said. “But he has done everything required of him as far as rehabilitation. And Mike Mearan has sponsored him and really deserves as much congratulations as Mr. Wolfson does because he has worked with him on this.”