Thursday, June 4, 2009
The New York Appellate Division ordered the immediate suspension of an attorney in light of evidence concerning unexplained withdrawals from an escrow account:
The Departmental Disciplinary Committee is now seeking an order...immediately suspending respondent from the practice of law based on failure to cooperate with the Committee's investigation and allegedly uncontested evidence of misconduct that threatens the public interest.
The Committee's accountant prepared accounting schedules for respondent's escrow accounts held at HSBC and Citibank. A review of those schedules shows that between December 2007 and April 2008 there were five cash withdrawals totaling $17,000 and numerous checks written to Barry Siskin, Esq. from his HSBC escrow account. There were also transfers from his Citibank escrow account to his HSBC account. When asked to explain these transactions, respondent testified that his former accountant was the only one who could explain these transactions and that he was unable to engage an accountant at this time.
Moreover, bank statements from respondent's HSBC account showed that on October 25, 2007, he had at least $100,692.45 in his escrow account which represented funds he was required to maintain on behalf of five clients. However, five days later, the balance in his account had decreased to $97,430.51. On December 4, 2007, before respondent wrote a check to one of the five clients, the balance in his account had dropped to $75,104.98. In addition, respondent was required to maintain a total of $87,813.25 on behalf of two other clients. However before respondent disbursed those clients their funds, his escrow account decreased, dropping as low as $51,664.31 on February 5, 2008. On the same day, February 5, 2008, respondent wrote a check for $40,000 from his Citibank escrow account and deposited it into his HSBC account.
Based on respondent's failure to respond to questions with respect to transfers from his escrow account and the unexplained decrease of funds, an immediate suspension from the practice of law is warranted.