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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2001-013

IN RE: RICHARD A. GALANTE

S.J.C. Order of Indefinite Suspension entered by Justice Spina on March 21, 2001. 1

SUMMARY 2

The respondent was admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on June 7, 1977.

On November 15, 1999, the respondent deposited in his IOLTA account a check for $40,000.00 in connection with a client's real estate transaction. Immediately prior to this deposit, the balance in the IOLTA account was $1.83.

On November 18, 1999, the respondent withdrew $6,500.00 from the IOLTA account and used the funds to pay personal and business expenses unrelated to the client matter. On or about November 19, 1999, the respondent paid $22,538.65 in closing costs related to the client matter. After this payment he should have been holding $17,461.35 for the client. However, the balance in the IOLTA account was only $10,963.18. Thereafter on November 24, 1999 and December 17, 1999, the respondent withdrew an additional $3,920.00 from the IOLTA account for personal and business expenses, further reducing the account balance to $7,043.18.

On December 21, 1999, the respondent deposited into the IOLTA account $90,000.00 in escrow funds relating to the settlement of a second client's legal matter. On December 22, 1999, the respondent paid the first client $17,461.31 from the IOLTA account, the balance of the funds he was supposed to be holding for her. This payment would not have been possible without the use of the second client's escrow funds.

In 1999, the respondent was handling three litigation matters for other clients. As a result of stress he was experiencing in his professional life, the respondent decided that he was unable to continue work on these three cases. Rather than pursue the cases or refer them to another attorney, between January and April of 2000, the respondent misrepresented to each client that the opposing party had agreed to settle the relevant case for the amount each client wanted. Thereafter, the respondent paid the clients $30,000.00, $18,750.00, and $1,750.00, respectively, from the second client's escrow funds in the IOLTA account.

Between December 21, 1999 and May 31, 2000, the respondent made eleven additional payments totaling $20,049.96 from the IOLTA account for personal and business expenses, using client funds which he was supposed to be holding in escrow.

On or about May 18, 2000, the respondent delivered a check drawn on his IOLTA account in the amount of $90,000.00 to opposing counsel in connection with the settlement of the second client's civil litigation matter. At the time when the respondent delivered this check, he was aware that the IOLTA account did not hold sufficient funds to cover the check.

On November 9, 2000, using funds obtained from a loan refinancing the mortgage on his residence, the respondent paid opposing counsel $96,789.47 representing the $90,000.00 settlement of his client's matter plus partial payment of fees and costs as ordered by the Superior Court. Thereafter on December 29, 2000, the respondent paid the opposing counsel $7,689.98 from funds withdrawn from the respondent's personal retirement account to fully satisfy the Superior Court's order regarding payment of fees and costs.


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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