ELYRIA — Former attorney Michael W. Fine pleaded guilty to charges he used his hypnotic skills to control six women for his own sexual gratification as part of a deal with prosecutors that will send him to prison for 12 years.
Fine, 59, entered pleas to five counts of kidnapping and one count of attempted kidnapping during a hearing Monday, a week before his trial was set to begin. Each of those charges carries a sexual motivation specification. Prosecutors dropped numerous other charges as part of the agreement reached during private pretrial negotiations.
Prosecutors and defense attorney John Pyle declined to comment after the hearing, citing a gag order imposed on those involved in the case by Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove.
Fine is due back in court Nov. 7 for a sentencing hearing and also will be informed of requirements that he register as a sex offender for the rest of his life that day.
Fine fell under scrutiny after one of his legal clients became suspicious of lost time she was experiencing and because “she was wet in her vaginal area, that her bra was disheveled” after she left Fine’s office or had conversations with him.
The woman took her concerns to Sheffield police, who initially suggested she find another lawyer, but the woman instead recorded her interactions with Fine, including when he placed her in a trance, according by documents filed by the Lorain County Bar Association in November 2014 seeking an emergency suspension of Fine’s law license.
Fine was accused of putting the woman into a trance and giving her sexual commands, including telling her to have a orgasm and that she was “being made love to by the world’s greatest lover,” according to the Bar Association filing.
The woman took the recordings to law enforcement, and she agreed to wear audio and video recording devices into a meeting with Fine at his Sheffield law offices.
Once Fine put the woman into a trance, law enforcement raided the office and searched it for evidence, according to court documents.
After the allegations against Fine, who permanently relinquished his law license last year, became public, Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will’s office fielded calls from numerous women claiming to have been victimized by Fine. Several women also filed lawsuits against Fine and his former law firm.
He ultimately was charged last August with taking advantage of six women and has been free on bond.
Prior to Cosgrove issuing a gag order in the case, defense attorney Robert Housel said his client was seeking treatment.
Fine’s case is at the center of a dispute between county Domestic Relations Judge Lisa Swenski, who has said she suspects she was one of Fine’s victims, and Lorain attorney Michael Tony.
Swenski removed herself from hearing Tony’s cases nearly two years ago. Although she didn’t say so at the time, she wrote in court documents filed this summer that she suspected Tony might be in league with Fine.
Tony has never been charged with a crime and isn’t facing disciplinary action from the Ohio Supreme Court’s ethics arm.
Swenski’s suspicions of Tony were revealed when she responded to his request asking the Ohio Supreme Court to permanently bar her from handling his cases when she decided to resume hearing them earlier this summer.
A decision in that matter has not yet been made.
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