June 17, 2011
The Price Of Gas
The web page of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers reports a public reprimand of an attorney for the following:
In January of 2008, the respondent was retained to represent a client in a contentious
divorce from her husband. During the course of the marriage, the husband had permitted the
client to use a gasoline credit card in the name of the husband’s business for her personal use.
The client’s continued usage of the credit card was an issue raised by the husband early in
the divorce and was a subject of an order of the court in March of 2008 permitting her
Beginning in July of 2008 and continuing through July of 2009, the client periodically
gave the respondent the gasoline card to use for his own personal use, without the knowledge
of her husband or his counsel. The respondent used the card to pay for gasoline for his own
automobile at least twenty times. During this same time period, the respondent also knew
that the client gave the gasoline card to other people to use without the consent of her
husband or his counsel.
The respondent did not advise the client of the risks involved in allowing others to use
the gasoline card. The respondent’s representation of the client in the divorce was materially
limited by his personal interest in using the gasoline card for his own expenses and the
respondent did not obtain the consent of the client, after consultation, to the respondent’s
continuing representation of her in the divorce case.
By September of 2008, the husband and his counsel suspected the gasoline card was
being used by persons other than the client. When the issue of possible misuse of the card
was raised to the respondent, the respondent did not disclose that he had been using the
gasoline card, did not discuss with the client whether such disclosure should be made and did
not discuss whether the client should cease allowing others to use the card. The respondent
did not withdraw from representing the client in the divorce matter at this time.
The attorney violated Rules 1.2(a) and 7.1. The attorney made restitution in an amount over $1,100. (Mike Frisch)
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