Thursday, January 2, 2014
The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department explains how the automatic disbarment for a federal felony conviction process works
A conviction of a federal felony only triggers automatic disbarment if the offense would constitute a felony under the New York Penal Law (Judiciary Law § 90[a],[e]; Matter of Kim, 209 AD2d 127 [1st Dept 1995]). If it is not a "mirror image," the federal felony must be "essentially similar" to a New York felony, and this similarity can be shown in admissions under oath made during a respondent's plea allocutions, read in conjunction with the federal indictment or information (Matter of Sorin, 47 AD3d 1, 3 [1st Dept 2007]).
The court disbarred the attorney based on the following facts
respondent admitted that he and a co-conspirator negotiated with a real estate investment company to solicit investors for a condominium project purportedly in development. Respondent served as the escrow agent for the investor funds accounts, which contained over $4.7 million, and released these funds to the co-conspirator although he knew that neither the investors nor the escrow agreement had allowed him to do so. He further admitted to concealing the improper fund withdrawals by withholding a requested accounting of the escrow funds from investors and by making false and misleading statements in emails. No work has been performed on the purported real estate project and no money has been returned to the investors.
The conviction was for wire fraud. (Mike Frisch)