Thursday, May 25, 2023

Bad Bets

The imposition of an interim suspension by a single justice was affirmed by the full Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The allegations

The petition asserts that Tariri had misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars of client funds to support a gambling addiction and pay personal debts. More specifically, the petition asserted, among other things, that Tariri represented a client (client A) with respect to client A's residential property purchase; that Tariri held certain of client A's funds for that purpose in an Interest on Lawyers' Trust Account (IOLTA account); and that Tariri misused those funds to purchase lottery tickets. In the process, Tariri allegedly failed to make certain wire transfers in connection with client A's property purchase; deposited money from other clients in the IOLTA account; and used the money from other clients to make the required payments for client A's property purchase.

In another instance, the petition avers, Tariri repeatedly borrowed money from a client (client B) who he had represented in a variety of matters. One of those matters allegedly resulted in a monetary settlement between client B and the Commonwealth pursuant to which the Commonwealth paid client B a set sum. According to the petition, the amount of money that Tariri borrowed from client B was approximately the same amount of money that Tariri knew client B had received in the settlement. Tariri subsequently wrote checks to client B to repay the loan, but each time he did so, the checks were returned for insufficient funds. Although Tariri allegedly did eventually repay some of the loan to client B, the petition avers that the loan was never fully repaid and that client B eventually filed a complaint against Tariri with the board. 

The petition also alleges several other instances of Tariri borrowing money from current and former clients and of writing checks to repay the loans only to have those checks returned for insufficient funds.

On review

There was, in short, "sufficient evidence . . . from which the single justice could have concluded that [Tariri] posed a threat to present and potential clients." Matter of Kenney, 399 Mass. 431, 434-435 (1987).

The single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in concluding that a temporary suspension was warranted.

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