A disbarred Twin Cities attorney has been sentenced to nine months in the workhouse for swindling more than $44,000 from clients.
Ronald Resnik, 67, of St. Paul, was sentenced in Hennepin County District Court last week after pleading guilty to felony theft by swindle. He’ll be on probation for three years and was ordered to pay restitution for most of the overall amount.
Judge Kathryn Quaintance also ordered Resnik, whose law offices were in Brooklyn Center, to never again hold any sort of legal or fiduciary position.
The Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, the state oversight board for attorneys, had disciplined Resnik in 2001, 2011 and 2013. In each case, he was found to have mishandled clients’ money, often by not keeping it in a separate trust account.
From May 2015 to May 2017, Resnik kept a $1,500 retainer he collected from potential clients in criminal, civil and divorce actions and lied to clients about court dates and documents.
But the clients — more than a dozen, authorities said — eventually discovered that Resnik was lying and that none of the work had been done.
When Resnik was disbarred, the court said he forged signatures on settlement checks, agreed to settlements without the client’s approval, falsely notarized a client’s signature and lied to clients, opposing counsel and the court.
The swindle continued after Resnik was disbarred. He admitted taking money from clients and signing up new clients even though he could not represent them.
The county attorney’s office reported that in a victim impact statement read in court, one client said that he hired Resnik to expunge an old record because he was in danger of losing his job of 22 years. Resnik took the money but didn’t do the work, and the man lost his medical insurance and had to spend a lot of money on his wife’s medical care.
“Mr. Resnik just doesn’t seem to learn his lesson when it comes to the proper handling of money entrusted to him by his clients,” County Attorney Mike Freeman said when Resnik pleaded guilty in May. “As a result, we are now making sure he cannot engage in that behavior again as a convicted felon who will spend time behind bars.”