Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The New York Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department has disbarred an attorney who disbursed $80,000 of a gravely ill client's trust funds to his own spouse, who was an employee of his law firm.
Weeks later, the client died. The attorney claimed the transactiobn was a loan repayable in 60 monthly installments. The "loan" was not repaid and the client's estate sued to recover the amount taken from the escrow account.
The attorney admitted that he engaged in a conflict of interest and failed to disclose material facts to the client. He had a prior record of eight letters of caution, an earlier suspension and had failed to respond to the ethics charges, which "demonstrates a total disregard for his fate as an attorney and his professional obligations to his former clients."
The court found that the attorney had engaged in conduct involving wilfull misappropriation. (Mike Frisch)