Suspended special needs trust lawyer faces more theft accusations

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Dave Stafford for www.theindianalwyer.com

A suspended Greenwood lawyer criminally charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his former special needs trust clients around Indiana has been accused in new civil lawsuits of draining another $108,600 from several more trust funds.

Kenneth Shane Service, 45, already is facing felony theft charges in three counties, accused of stealing a total of more than $210,000 from trust accounts he established and administered to help pay for the medical care and needs of people who were disabled and, in some cases, subjects of guardianships. The additional alleged misappropriations drive the alleged missing funds to more than $318,600.

Last week, Fort Wayne attorney Kristin Bilinski filed four lawsuits against Service on behalf of clients for whom she was appointed as successor trustee after Service’s removal. Bilinski was among a number of lawyers who rushed to remove Service from cases after he faced discipline for missing funds in other trust cases. Bilinski’s civil suits seek relief and redress in cases where Service allegedly:

• Converted $30,000 from an Allen County man’s special needs trust to his own use before Service was removed in December 2017;

• Converted more than $25,700 from a LaPorte County man’s special needs trust to his own use before Service was removed in May 2017;

• Converted $25,000 from a LaPorte County man’s special needs trust to his own use before Service was removed in May 2017, and;

• Converted more than $27,900 from a Wabash County man’s special needs trust to his own use before Service was removed in June 2017.

Service has not been criminally charged in any of these cases and could not be reached for comment. Bilinski did not reply to an email message seeking comment. Bilinski told Indiana Lawyer in September 2017 that she had intervened in five cases where Service had been removed and described her reaction to the missing funds as “honestly, just dismay. Because these people, first of all, had obviously had a terrible accident to have received a settlement, and they’re living with some kind of disability. … For this to come along and delay or completely hinder access to money that’s rightfully theirs, it’s just horrible. I don’t know what else to say.”

Meanwhile, the chances for recovery for clients would appear to be slight. Service is facing three jury trial dates this year for felony theft charges in Delaware, Franklin and Lawrence counties.   Public defenders have been appointed in at least some of those cases, court records show.

Service is currently ordered to appear for a pretrial conference Feb. 20 in Delaware Circuit Court in Muncie, followed by jury trial dates set for April 16 in Lawrence Superior Court in Bedford and May 22 in Franklin Circuit Court, Brookville

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