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Attorney suspended for 20 counts of misconduct

A lawyer convicted of 14 crimes during a three-year period has been suspended from practicing law for 30 months.

Maria Schreier, who was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1997, has struggled with substance abuse in recent years, according to court records. She had her license suspended Tuesday.

From 2008 to 2011, she was convicted of multiple crimes, including misdemeanor cocaine possession, operating under the influence, misdemeanor hit and run, and felony second-degree recklessly endangering safety.

The Office of Lawyer Regulation filed a complaint Feb. 21, 2012, that alleged misconduct that included seven counts of committing a criminal act; six counts of failing to timely notify the OLR of convictions; and three counts of engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

Schreier, who now lives in Massachusetts, has since received treatment for her substance abuse issues, according to court documents. In reviewing the 20 claims of misconduct alleged against her, the Wisconsin Supreme Court found that the “misconduct at issue in this case was a by-product of substance abuse problems.”

Still, the court wrote, “Attorney Schreier’s list of misdeeds is considerable and many of them, by themselves, could have led a significant suspension.”

The court found Schreier’s second-degree reckless endangerment conviction particularly troubling, it wrote, because “by definition, this conviction was based on conduct that Attorney Schreier knew created an unreasonable and substantial risk of great bodily harm.”

“Combining that felony with Attorney Schreier’s long list of other convictions, it becomes clear that for several years, Attorney Schreier had a habitual disregard for the law and her obligations as an attorney,” the justices wrote.

The court overruled the referee’s recommendation of a two-year suspension and instead imposed a 30-month suspension with conditions for reinstatement that include compliance with all treatment recommendations of any substance abuse treatment provider, abstinence from all alcohol and other mood-altering substances, abstinence from over-the-counter medications that contain alcohol or mood-altering substances, and regular participation in a community-based support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

The court also ordered Schreier to pay a portion of the costs of the proceeding totaling $1,403.04.

Though no appeal was filed, Schreier had previously worked out two stipulation agreements in the case, but the court dismissed both.

Schreier previously had her license suspended from Feb. 26, 2004, to Sept. 29, 2011, for her failure to cooperate with the OLR’s efforts to investigate her.


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