A newly retired Terre Haute business attorney is denying allegations he misappropriated funds from a prominent local law firm where he worked for more than three decades.
William "Bill" Olah surrendered his license to practice law in Indiana last week after allegations were presented to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission by his former firm Wilkinson, Goeller, Modesitt, Wilkinson & Drummy, where Olah had worked for 32 years.
A statement issued today by attorney William Drummy, representing the firm, indicates Olah retired from the firm April 30 and then started his own law practice.
"We learned thereafter that Mr. Olah engaged in serious financial misconduct while a firm partner by secretly diverting a substantial amount of the firm's fees to a company he controls," the statement said. "Our investigation has produced no evidence that he misappropriated any client funds."
Drummy said an accounting review continues, but it is accurate to say "hundred of thousands of dollars" were diverted over "many years."
Drummy said the firm is now assembling information to see what next steps can be taken, with options of both civil and criminal prosecution remaining open.
"He was a very well-respected Terre Haute business lawyer," Drummy said. "We never would have expected this."
The law firm said Olah admitted some of his misconduct, so the firm demanded he surrender his license.
"We have an obligation to report any bad acts by a fellow lawyer," Drummy said.
Olah sent a letter to clients June 5 advising them he had opened his own office at 18 S. 16th Street.
On June 13, Olah sent another letter to clients saying he had given up his law license on June 11.
"You are going to hear a lot of bad things about me, but I still consider each client a friend," the June 13 letter said, in part.
"I always strove to do right by you in the services I provided. I feel I am like all other folks in that I'd rather be remembered for the best things I did than the worst."
The Tribune-Star today attempted to reach Olah by phone and by email, so far without result.
Olah has been involved in numerous community organizations through the years. In 2014, he was awarded the Honor Alumni Award from the Alumni Association at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where he earned a degree in biological engineering in 1974. He earned his law degree from the University of Arkansas.
He recently handled a request for rezoning for the land off Honey Creek Drive that might become home to the county's new jail.
The Supreme Court's website today showed Olah as retired and in good standing.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.