SUPREME COURT: Former County Attorney Disciplined

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A former Clarke County Attorney and Polk County prosecutor has had his license to practice law suspended after being convicted for making a false statement to a financial institution.

The Iowa Supreme Court released its decision Friday to suspend Ronald Wheeler’s law license for at least six months. The decision came after Wheeler pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly making a false statement to a financial institution on a mortgage application, which is a felony. Wheeler admitted in 2006 he took out a mortgage in his name on a property his client, Russell Blessman wished to purchase. It is not known why Blessman didn’t want his name involved in the home’s purchase.

The information provided to secure a mortgage on the property wasn’t accurate. Wheeler says the application was filled out by Blessman and he didn’t verify the information on it before he signed it.

Blessman took possession of the property and made the utility and mortgage payments.

After obtaining another mortgage on the property for Blessman, and attempts by Blessman to convince Wheeler to refinance based on a questionable appraisal – Blessman disappeared leaving Wheeler with the expenses of the property. Wheeler was forced to file bankruptcy.

The FBI launched an investigation into the loans, which Wheeler cooperated with and he pled guilty to one charge.

The Iowa Supreme Court cites Wheeler’s cooperation into the investigation, his remorse, and his standing in the legal community as reasons why only a six-month suspension was sought.

The court says Wheeler’s act of deceiving a financial institution was inexcusable it doesn’t believe he did so in any attempt to misappropriate funds or help Blessman do so.

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