Monday, July 27, 2009
A summary of a disciplinary matter from the web page of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers:
On January 27, 2009, the respondent pled guilty in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts to six felony counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U. S. C. § 1343 and one felony count of mail fraud in violation of 18 U. S. C. § 1341. The charges arose from the respondent’s representation of a retired educator who held two single-life annuity contracts administered by TIAA-CREF that paid her a monthly sum
In 1989, the respondent was given power of attorney for the woman. The respondent became executor of her estate when she died in 1994. The respondent did not report the woman’s death to TIAA-CREF, and continued to collect the payments for fourteen years. In 1996, the respondent asked TIAA-CREF to change the mailing address for the monthly payments to his post office address. In 1998, he responded to TIAA-CREF’s regarding the woman that she was still alive but was physically incapacitated. The respondent collected a total of $237,291.80 illegally, which he used to pay for family entertainment and other expenses.
TIAA-CREF did not discover that the woman was deceased until March 2008. In June 2008, TIAA CREF called the respondent to inquire about the status of the account. The respondent told the caller that he represented the woman, that she had died, and that he was the executor of her estate. On June 10th, the respondent sent a letter to TIAA-CREF stating that the date of death was April 10th, without providing the year, thereby falsely implying that her death was recent.
The respondent was temporarily suspended from the practice of law on February 19, 2009. He complied with the order of temporary suspension on March 19, 2009. On April 1, 2009, the respondent filed an affidavit of resignation pursuant to S. J. C. Rule 4:01, § 15, with the Board of Bar Overseers. He acknowledged that his conduct violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b) and (c). Bar counsel asked the board to recommend that the affidavit of resignation be accepted and an order of disbarment entered effective March 19, 2009.
On April 13, 2009, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to recommend to the court to accept the affidavit of resignation and enter a judgment of disbarment effective March 19, 2009. On April 27, 2009, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County (Spina, J.) accepted the affidavit of resignation and entered judgment of disbarment effective March 19, 2009.
The case is Matter of Passmore, No. BD 2009-15. A Department of Justice release describes him as an attorney and criminal justice professor. (Mike Frisch)