May 7, 2010
An attorney who was disbarred in 1989 and reinstated in 2003 offered his resignation in lieu of disbarment and was disbarred by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The summary of the matter from the web page of the Board of Bar Overseers tells the tale of a failed second chance:
The respondent was reinstated to the bar on August 25, 2003. Matter of Sites, 19 Mass. Att’y Disc. R. 448 (2003). In November 2007, the respondent represented a buyer at a closing in which the seller was a bank. There was a problem with the title. The respondent issued a check for $48,000 to the bank’s lawyer, and the bank’s lawyer and the respondent agreed that the bank’s lawyer would not negotiate the check and the respondent would hold the funds in escrow until the title problem could be resolved.
The title problem was not resolved until May 2008. In the meantime, the respondent converted the escrow funds to his own use in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(b)(1) and (f)(1)(C) and (f)(1)(E)(ii) and 8.4(c) and (h). In May, the respondent notified the bank’s lawyer that he had successfully recorded all the documents necessary to complete the sale, but when the bank’s lawyer attempted to negotiate the check, it was rejected as stale. The respondent had less than $650 in his IOLTA account when the check was rejected, so he arranged to borrow $50,000. He deposited these loan proceeds to his trust account and, in early June 2008, issued a new check, which was honored.
On October 16, 2008, the respondent admitted to sufficient facts to driving under the influence, and the case was continued without a finding for one year. On December 18, 2008, the respondent was convicted of negligent operation of a motor vehicle, for which he was placed on probation for two years, and operating under the influence, second offense, for which he was sentenced to the house of correction for sixty days, all suspended, and required to enter a fourteen-day inpatient program and abstain from alcohol. On September 30, 2009, the respondent was convicted of operating under the influence, third offense, a felony for which he was sentenced to two and one-half years in the house of correction, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, for which he was sentenced to four years’ probation. On November 13, 2009, the respondent was found in violation of probation ordered on the second driving-under offense and ordered to serve sixty days. The respondent did not report any of these convictions to bar counsel, thereby violating S. J. C. Rule 4:01, § 12(8).
The respondent’s convictions violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b) and (h), and his violation of probation constituted a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c) and 8.4(d) and (h). The respondent’s failure to report his convictions to bar counsel within ten days of the conviction violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c) and 8.4(d) and (h).
The original misconduct had involved conversion of entrusted funds. The case is Matter of Sites, order entered March 18, 2010. (Mike Frisch)
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