Monday, June 19, 2017
The New Jersey Supreme Court has disbarred an attorney who had neglected a host of client matters, failed to respond to the ensuing bar complaints and misappropriated entrusted funds on numerous occasions.
The attorney already is subject to an interim suspension.
As noted in the report of the Disciplinary Review Board, some of the misappropriations involved unrelated real estate and personal injury matters.
One victim was Congregation Agudath Achim.
Because respondent had previously misappropriated Romeo’s and the Congregation’s funds by way of unidentified and unauthorized disbursements, he did not have their respective funds available when he issued ATA2 check numbers 1696 and 1760. Thus, in both the Congregation and Romeo matters, respondent engaged in a pattern of lapping, by using monies received in connection with [an] Estate and other client matters to fund the $50,000 check to the Congregation and the $56,000+ check to Romeo. He also repeatedly failed to communicate with the Congregation and with Romeo, both of whom attempted to reach him via letter and phone.
Respondent unequivocally stated to the OAE, in a recorded interview, that he knew that he was required to safeguard the Congregation’s $50,000 and Romeo’s $59,045.66 in trust; that he did not lose track of or forget that he was holding funds for the Congregation and Romeo; and that he reviewed the ATA bank statements. Respondent also stated that, when he disbursed monies against the Congregation and Romeo funds, he knew that he did not have authorization from the clients to use their funds for his own purpose or for that of any of his other clients.
The DRB details several other instances of misuse of client funds and
Further, respondent’s representation to the OAE that he was unable to produce those statements because they had been damaged during two storms was false. Indeed, when the OAE reviewed respondent’s files, it found the missing statements, "most of which were not damaged."
Knowing misappropriation was found and disbarment was recommended and imposed . (Mike Frisch)