Hearing Continued After Former Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas Turns Over 1,000 Pages of Documents Related to Private Law Practice

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Mark Thomas is complying with court orders to turn over documents from his time serving as power of attorney for a client of his private legal practice.

Thomas, a former Belmont County commissioner who no longer practices law, already served 30 days in the Belmont County Jail for failure to comply with those court orders. His jail term ended Feb. 10, and Thomas had been scheduled to appear in court Friday before Common Pleas Judge John Vavra to demonstrate his compliance. However, Vavra continued the hearing to 1 p.m. May 24.

“Because Mr. Thomas has turned over more documents, about 1,000 pages worth, (the attorneys) have agreed to request a two-month continuance to allow the plaintiff to analyze all of that,” Vavra said. “The plaintiff’s attorney, when we had our conference, said he needed approximately 60 days to review and digest all of it.”

According to court records, Vavra had ordered Thomas in November to supply files for a trustee client named Alma Lukas by Jan. 4. Lukas’ agent, Kathy Amos, had filed a civil case against Thomas earlier in 2018. According to the court, Thomas had power of attorney for Lukas several years ago. Amos was later invested with Lukas’ power of attorney and said Thomas failed to turn over documents, prompting Amos to sue for an injunction ordering that Thomas provide those records.

The plaintiff’s attorney, Andrew Walther, said while Thomas did produce some documents prior to being found in contempt of court, the papers amounted to only a small percentage of what was expected.

According to Thomas’ affidavit, he searched the old files in the basement of his law office beginning Feb. 11 and located documents that filled two 500-page containers. He stated that he continued to search for days afterward, but no more documents related to Lukas have been found.

“Since my release from incarceration, I have utilized a total of 12 additional hours, over nine days, searching for any possible additional documents and none have been found,” he wrote to the court. “On Feb. 15, 2019, I provided all documents located during my search to my pro-bono counsel.”

He added that his attorney has since been in discussions with Walther.

Thomas also said he will immediately forward any and all additional documents which met the production order to Amos as soon as they are discovered.

Thomas’ law license was suspended for five years in Ohio last May. In August 2017, he consented to voluntary disbarment in West Virginia as he faced charges in Ohio County for allegedly embezzling $36,000 from a client. He was acquitted of those charges April 11.

Thomas, a Democrat, concluded his elected term as commissioner at the end of 2018, having lost his re-election bid to Republican challenger Jerry Echemann. The case has no connection to Thomas’ role as an elected official.


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