Tuesday, November 30, 2021
A reprimand has been imposed by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers on these facts
The respondent is a real estate practitioner who received, into an IOLTA account, funds from lenders and others. One of his long-time paralegals, whose responsibilities included tracking all funds deposited into and disbursed from the firm’s IOLTA account, stole over $244,000 from him over a period of several years. She was able to do this because she was the only person who tracked all funds deposited into and disbursed from the IOLTA account, she used a computer that only she had access to, and she maintained Quicken records solely on that computer. She also opened the relevant mail and took all phone calls, so she was able to deflect inquiries. She diverted the funds by writing IOLTA checks to two acquaintances of hers, as well as several of her own creditors. She disguised her theft by falsely entering the names of persons who were not the payees of the checks in the Quicken records. The respondent failed to uncover the theft because he never viewed the actual cancelled checks. Of the $244,000, at least $67,000 misappropriated by the paralegal was owed to the respondent’s firm.
The respondent received, in 2003, $240,000 in mis-wired funds – funds that should not have gone to him. He kept them in his account for many years without determining who they belonged to. Despite some efforts, he has not been able to figure out to whom these funds belong.