Monday, August 9, 2010
A Massachusetts attorney has been suspended for three months with two months stayed and one year of probation. The summary of the matter from the web page of the Board of Bar Overseers describes the misconduct:
In August of 2007, the respondent hired a former client to work in his office as a receptionist. The respondent asked the employee to sign a W-4 form. The employee refused to do so, stating that she needed to be paid “under the table” so that she could maintain her MassHealth benefits because her husband was ill. The respondent understood that the employee wished to hide her income from the state authorities so that she could continue to receive MassHealth benefits for which she otherwise might not be qualified and agreed to not report the employee’s income to the state and federal authorities.
The respondent paid the employee approximately $400 per week for about seven months without reporting her income. On February 12, 2008, the respondent terminated the employee’s employment. The employee was initially unable to collect unemployment benefits after the respondent terminated her employment, but, at her request, the respondent made the appropriate payments to the state unemployment commission and acknowledged her status as a former employee. The employee received unemployment benefits beginning in June of 2008. After an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the respondent paid the Commonwealth a civil penalty of $2,000.
By not reporting to state and federal authorities the income paid to his employee, the respondent knowingly engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c).