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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2002-021


S.J.C. Judgment of Disbarment entered by Justice Cordy on August 28, 2003.1


The respondentís practice concentrated heavily in residential real estate closings. From some time before 1999, he engaged in a pattern of taking money from his IOLTA account whenever he needed it and depositing money when he needed to conceal his misuse. His sustained and extensive conversion of clientsí funds resulted in substantial deprivation to his clients and led to his disbarment.

Beginning not later than 1999 and continuing through February, 2001, the respondent intentionally wrote checks on his IOLTA account for purposes not connected with any client. These checks included a $30,000 check to buy out a partner with whom the respondent owned an office condominium and a series of checks, mostly in round numbers, payable to cash, to himself, or to his law firm. The respondent made false entries in his check register to obscure the nature of these checks.

As a result of his misappropriations, the respondent was unable to meet his obligations to his clients. He failed for more than two years to remit $31,000 that he had withheld from a residential real estate closing to pay the IRS. When he did make the payment, he used funds that he had received in February, 2001, on behalf of an estate. By June of that year, he had expended all the funds in his IOLTA account without making any payment to the estate. He continues to owe at least $30,000 to the estate (even without accounting for interest), although he did make partial restitution after the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing on the disciplinary charges against him.

The respondentís misconduct was aggravated by his continued practice of law after preliminary orders of suspension had been entered against him. On March 20, 2001, an order of administrative suspension was imposed for the respondentís failure to cooperate with Bar Counselís investigation. On April 19, 2002, he was temporarily suspended as posing a threat of substantial harm to his clients or prospective clients. Although both these orders directed the respondent to cease the practice of law, he did not do so. After the orders were entered, the respondent conducted many closings. He also agreed to provide legal representation to a Pennsylvania resident who was executrix of two Massachusetts estates and requested a retainer. The Pennsylvania resident obtained other counsel before the respondent received any retainer or took any action in furtherance of the representation.

The respondentís misappropriation of clientsí funds constituted dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c); failure to segregate, safeguard, and account for clients' funds in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(a) and (b); failure to communicate in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4(a) and (b); and conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law in violation Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(e). His continued practice of law after suspension constituted unauthorized practice of law in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.5(a) and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(d).

The hearing committee and the Board of Bar Overseers unanimously recommended disbarment. The single justice entered an order of disbarment on August 28, 2003.

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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