INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Supreme Court has received an affidavit of resignation from Rensselaer attorney and former judge Robert Monfort.
The resignation was submitted on June 4. The court stated the resignation would be accepted and effective immediately.
The published order also states any attorney disciplinary proceedings pending against Monfort will be dismissed “as moot” because of the resignation.
In April, the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed a disciplinary complaint against Monfort for a number of alleged violations, according to the investigation into his conduct.
The complaint cited Monfort had violated several rules of professional conduct in regards to the estates of Rose Jennette Nagel and Anthony Kaczorowski. A lawsuit by the Jasper Newton Foundation over Nagel’s will is ongoing and includes actions by Monfort and his assistant, Teri Hardin, who became the personal representative of the estate.
The foundation contends the bulk of Nagel’s estate was to go to the foundation and dispersed as scholarships and community grants. However, a will filed in Jasper County Court gave the bulk of the estate to Hardin, who was not a relative of the deceased.
The case is being heard in Porter County after both Jasper County judges recused themselves from the case shortly after it was filed in August 2018.
Should Monfort petition for reinstatement into the Indiana bar, the allegations of misconduct would be addressed in the reinstatement process. He cannot ask for reinstatement to practice law for five years from the file date of the resignation.
The order from June 4 also states it only removes Monfort from practicing law and does not “relieve” him from any liability he might have for his misconduct under civil or criminal law.
No criminal charges have been filed from these cases.
After the disciplinary commission’s filing, the Jasper Newton Foundation asked for sanctions against Monfort and his attorney in regards to a motion to dismiss two counts from the original lawsuit filed in 2018. The counts were for counterfeiting/forgery and deception.
The argument for the dismissal stated “no monies from Ms. Nagel’s estate have been disbursed under the probate will or otherwise,” and that none “of the assets under the probated will have even been disbursed.”
The foundation asked that Monfort and his attorney, Vincent Antaki, pay the attorney fees and costs related to the motion to dismiss because the disciplinary commission’s filing states Hardin deposited $130,000 from Nagel’s checking account into Monfort’s trust account in March 2017.
It also states Hardin transferred approximately $548,000 from Nagel’s largest investment account into a newly opened account controlled by Hardin as her personal representative.
On or about March 24, 2017, the commission wrote, Monfort and/or Hardin deposited more than $560,000 from Nagel’s investment account into Monfort’s trust account and eventually all of Nagel’s estate assets were moved to this account. Afterwards, the commission cited numerous times when Hardin, who had signatory authority to sign checks from Monfort’s trust account, wrote checks in equal amounts to both herself and Monfort monthly, in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.
In the filing to sanction the attorneys, the foundation, referred to as JNF, says the motion to dismiss was signed by Monfort’s counsel “without good grounds to support it,” and it violated a trial rule.
On June 4, Judge Mary Harper, the presiding Porter County judge, found Monfort and Antaki violated the rule, that sanctions are appropriate and set a hearing date for July 13 at 10 a.m. in the Porter County Courthouse.