Wednesday, January 9, 2013
An attorney who misappropriated entrusted funds and engaged in other misconduct was suspended for two years by the New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department.
The court on sanction:
In determining an appropriate measure of discipline to impose, we note that the respondent is married, with five young children. While he takes full responsibility for his escrow violations, the respondent avers that all of the clients involved herein have received the money to which they were entitled. He asserts, further, that his excessive drinking during the time in question led him to neglect his business, and impacted upon his decision making. Moreover, his lack of experience administrating an office and, more specifically, an escrow account, contributed to his inattention to the operation of his office. However, the respondent's forensic psychologist offered only generalized testimony concerning the impact of alcohol abuse on "cognition" and "decision making"; he did not meet with or treat the respondent during the relevant period. As the Special Referee ultimately found, "the testimony preponderates in favor of the conclusion that [the] respondent's inattention to his escrow accounts and the resultant deficiencies were not attributable to a drinking problem." We have also considered the respondent's prior disciplinary history, including his one-year suspension by the First Department in 1997, as well as the two Letters of Caution and one Admonition issued to him by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District.