The Ohio Supreme Court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a complaint yesterday against Christopher T. Cicero, accusing him of violating attorney-client confidentiality when he told Tressel in a series of emails that players had been given free tattoos in exchange for signed memorabilia.
Cicero, a criminal-defense lawyer, learned of the situation when the owner of the tattoo parlor came to him for legal advice about a federal drug investigation of him.
Edward Rife, owner of Fine Line Ink on the West Side, met with Cicero twice but never hired him.
"Even when no client-lawyer relationship ensues, a lawyer who has had discussions with a prospective client shall not use or reveal information learned in the consultation," Disciplinary Counsel Jonathan E. Coughlan wrote in a seven-page complaint filed with the Ohio Supreme Court.
Cicero [ could lose his law license.]
In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended Cicero's law license for misconduct after he told lawyers and others that he was having sex with then-Judge Deborah P. O'Neill, who had appointed Cicero to defend a client in a criminal case. Cicero ultimately admitted that he had overstated the affair and that it did not start until after O'Neill had stepped down from the case.
According to the complaint filed yesterday, Cicero met with Rife on April 2, 2010, after federal authorities raided his house as part of a criminal drug investigation. Immediately after the meeting, Cicero emailed Tressel and told him about the raid and the seizure of $70,000 in cash and OSU memorabilia.
Cicero and Rife met again on April 15, 2010. The next morning, Cicero sent a second email to Tressel, giving the coach a detailed accounting of the number of jerseys, footballs and championship rings that Rife had.
In a third email, sent the same day, Cicero told Tressel that he would try to get the memorabilia returned if Rife retained him, and he suggested that Tressel keep the players away from Rife's tattoo parlor and tell them not to call Rife because authorities were likely to review his phone records.
Tressel resigned on May 30 after he admitted withholding information that his players might have violated NCAA rules.