June 8, 2012
Censure And Shoplifters Anonymous For New York Attorney
An attorney who was convicted of shoplifting from Bergdorf Goodman was publicly censured and required to engage in treatment for one year by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department.
At the hearing, held on November 14, 2011, respondent testified on his own
behalf, and called his treating psychologist, Jonathan Wormhouldt, and a
character witness. He also introduced documentary evidence which included
character letters. Respondent admitted to eight acts of adult shoplifting. These
included art gallery thefts which were either not prosecuted or for which he
pled guilty to disorderly conduct (Penal Law § 240.20) and received an
unconditional discharge on May 20, 2010 at the time of the Bergdorf petit
larceny plea. In March 2011, he received an ACD and ten days of community
service, having been arrested for stealing an item from Key Food in January
2011. At the hearing, he admitted to two prior thefts from that store.
Respondent, who at the time of the hearing was 53-years-old, graduated from
college in 1981 and obtained a master's degree in public policy from in 1989.
After obtaining his undergraduate degree, respondent worked for various New York
City agencies and came to work for the Department of Housing Preservation and
Development (HPD), his current employer. He testified that although he wanted to
attend law school after receiving his master's degree, health issues prevented
his attending law school earlier, but he began attending Brooklyn Law School at
night, graduating in May 2002. Respondent currently works in an intergovernmental unit of the HPD where his primary responsibility is to monitor
federal legislation affecting grants received by his office and to ensure that
grant funds are used in accordance with federal statutes and regulations.
Dr. Wormhouldt, who has been treating respondent since July 2010 for his
shoplifting compulsion testified that respondent suffers from chronic,
long-term, low level depression resulting from various stressful events in his
life. Dr. Wormhouldt describes this depression as dysthymia and relates it to
the shoplifting compulsion. Respondent has been attending "Shoplifters
Anonymous" and has continued psychotherapy.
Based on his May 2010 disorderly conduct conviction (for the April 2009 art
gallery theft) and his January 2011 arrest, respondent received an Admonition
from the Committee in August 2011 for engaging in illegal conduct that adversely
reflected on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, in violation
of Rule 8.4(b), and for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit
or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4[c].
The attorney is subject to monitoring for one year by the bar's lawyer assistance program.
The New York Daily News has this report.
Ted Gallagher, 54, who works for the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development writing federal grant applications, has pleaded guilty to pilfering from groceries, art galleries and fine clothing stores.
Should "compulsive shoplifting" be considered a treatable condition and a mitigating factor? (Mike Frisch)
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