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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2000-025

IN RE: THOMAS J. LYNCH, JR.

S.J.C. Order of Indefinite Suspension entered by Justice Greaney on June 12, 2001, with an effective date of July 12, 2001.1

SUMMARY2

The respondent was admitted to the Bar in 1966. In 1989, he was suspended for two years for commingling and misuse of trust funds, but the suspension was suspended upon certain terms and conditions. Matter of Lynch, 6 Mass. Att'y Disc. R 214 (1989). The respondent attributed his behavior to alcoholism which contributed to financial problems. The suspension of the 1989 suspension was conditioned upon the respondent's maintaining sobriety as well as his complying with a "peer review" agreement and instituting an appropriate bookkeeping and accounting system for segregating and accounting for client trust funds.

The respondent remains sober. However, on November 6, 1995, and pursuant to Canon Nine, DR 9-103, Bar Counsel received a notice of dishonored check from BayBank and opened a file. The dishonored BayBank check was in the amount of $500 and was drawn on the respondent's IOLTA account. Payment would have resulted in a $25 overdraft in the trust account. The deficiency occurred because the respondent had written a $50 check on another matter unsupported by a deposit. Bar Counsel's review showed that any systems that the respondent had instituted in 1989 were no longer operative and that by 1995 his record keeping was again almost nonexistent. Bar Counsel met with the respondent on May 1, 1996 and agreed to dismiss the complaint conditioned upon the respondent's obtaining training in trust accounting. The respondent opened a new IOLTA account at UniBank for Savings during the first week of June 1996. The 1995 complaint was dismissed in August 1996.

In May 1997, Bar Counsel received another notice of dishonored check, this time from UniBank for Savings and relating to a check drawn on the respondent's IOLTA account at that bank. Investigation showed a pattern of commingling and intentional misappropriation of client funds since June 1996.

Specifically, in late May 1996, and within a month of his meeting with Bar Counsel after the first dishonored check, the respondent deposited $50,000 in client funds to his operating account on a date when the operating account had a zero balance. He immediately proceeded to use over $9,000 of this sum for his own purposes and later used several thousand dollars more. He was only able to pay the clients in full two months later by the use of a portion of $30,000 in funds received for another client that he also deposited to his operating account in late July. He was able to pay the second client a few weeks later from fees received at that point. Over a year later, in October 1997, the respondent again received a sum ($4008) for this second client, deposited these funds to his operating account, and misappropriated most of the funds. He paid the client a few weeks later from the proceeds of an unrelated intervening deposit.

The respondent's commingling and intentional misuse of client funds, with intent to deprive the clients of the funds at least temporarily and with actual deprivation resulting, was in violation of Canon One, DR 1-102(A)(4),(6) and Canon Nine, DR 9-102(A),(B)(3),(4).

The matter came before the Board of Bar Overseers on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation for an indefinite suspension. On February 12, 2001, the Board voted to accept the stipulation and to recommend the agreed-upon disposition to the Supreme Judicial Court. The Court so ordered on June 12, 2001.

1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

2 Compiled by the Board of Bar Overseers based on the record before the Court.



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