The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 3, 2013

Cambria defense attorney handed 3-year suspension

EBENSBURG — A well-known Cambria County criminal defense attorney will not be able to practice law for a three-year period effective later this month.

John M. Kasaback, 53, of the 300 block of Wood Street, Lilly, has been suspended from the practice of law effective April 27 through April 2016, according to an

order by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Kasaback, who has served for about a decade as a court-appointed attorney, representing defendants who posed conflicts for the public defender’s office, was suspended because he allegedly:

  • Neglected legal matters
  • Failed to communicate properly with clients
  • Failed to return an unearned fee
  • Engaged in the unauthorized practice of law

Kasaback’s attorney, David Raho of Johnstown, said he received the order Tuesday and still has it under review.

“We’re pursuing it for a possible stay of the order. We’re looking at any reconsideration,” he said.

Raho cited “substantial mitigation evidence” through some of the steps Kasaback took to turn his situation around.

The suspension was the result of an investigation and hearing by the disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court, which recommended Kasaback be suspended for five years.

Kasaback has a history of discipline problems with the state board.

The 15-page document spelling out the history and reason for the latest action lists two informal admonitions in 2002, a private reprimand in 2003 and a stayed suspension for three months with one year probation ordered on Dec. 6, 2010.

Kasaback has failed to pay any of the $1,393 owed to the disciplinary board for the past proceeding in 2010.

The latest disciplinary action is for the same type of misconduct Kasaback was disciplined for 10 years ago and in subsequent proceedings, according to the court order.

In making its case against Kasaback, the disciplinary board said he failed to seek possible sentence modifications for clients James Rice and Edelyn Madalura, a service he had been paid for.

He took no action in either case and failed to return money to Rice or provide him with a written document stating the basis for his fee.

In another case, Kasaback represented Rukiya Ren Smith at a preliminary hearing in 2010 during a time when he was administratively suspended and not permitted to practice law.

Kasaback’s history shows a pattern of being unresponsive to client inquiries and at times failing to take necessary steps in the legal process for those he represents, the court document says.

At his fall 2012 hearing in front of the disciplinary board, Kasaback testified that he has experienced medical issues stemming from a broken back and leg suffered 20 years ago.

He takes oxycodone pills to address the pain and at times finds he is unable to function normally due to the pills.

“We note that (Kasaback) did not offer an expert witness of medical records in support of these claims,” the order read.

“(Kasaback’s) testimony does not mitigate his conduct in this matter.”

Records show that to date in 2013 Kasaback has been paid $6,750 by Cambria County while he received $31,374 in 2012 and $27,500 in 2011.

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