The Ohio Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Counsel accused Columbus attorney Christopher Cicero of misconduct and filed a complaint Monday.
The accusation relates to emails Cicero sent to Jim Tressel about Ohio State football players’ involvement with tattoo parlor owner Eddie Rife.
The potential misconduct occurred when Cicero relayed confidential information from Rife, a prospective client, who met with Cicero on April 2, 2010, according to the documents released by the Disciplinary Counsel. This was the day after federal officials raided Rife’s residence as part of a criminal drug trafficking investigation and obtained several pieces of OSU football memorabilia.
“During the meeting, Rife expressed his concern that their conversation would remain confidential,” the documents said. “(Cicero) assured Rife that everything Rife told (him) would remain confidential.”
It was shortly after this meeting that Cicero notified Tressel about the players’ ventures with Rife, “divulging much of the information that Rife had told (Cicero) in confidence.”
According to the documents, a second meeting between Rife and Cicero took place on April 15, 2010, where “Rife disclosed more information regarding his criminal case, the OSU memorabilia and his relationship to several OSU football players.”
Without notifying Rife, Cicero sent two more emails to Tressel the following morning revealing much of what Rife had told him the day before, the documents said.
Rife did not end up hiring Cicero to represent him in his criminal case, but according to the complaint, that does not exempt Cicero from being charged with misconduct.
“Even when no client-lawyer relationship ensues, a lawyer who has had discussions with a prospective client shall not use or reveal any information learned in the consultation,” the documents said.
Cicero did not immediately respond a request for comment.