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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2004-057

IN RE: JOHN MICHAEL RICCI

S.J.C. Judgment of Disbarment entered by Justice Greaney on July 16, 2004.1

SUMMARY2

On July 16, 2004, the respondent was disbarred for stealing money from an acquaintance and failing to maintain correct registration with the Board of Bar Overseers.

The respondent met Patricia Hegarty in January 2000, through an informal social group for widows and widowers. During the spring of 2000, Hegarty and the respondent became friendly. The respondent told Hegarty that he had left the law firm with which he had practiced for several years, and was in the process of setting up his own law firm. He told her that he had located office space, and needed money to make a deposit and for other expenses associated with starting a law practice. Hegarty told the respondent that she was expecting a substantial annuity check from the labor union with which her husband had been affiliated, and that when she received the check, she would be willing to lend him $25,0000-$30,000.

In June of 2000, before leaving on a short vacation, Hegarty told the respondent that she had applied for the annuity check, and that she expected the check to come in the mail shortly. On June 23, 2000, the Massachusetts State Carpenters Guaranteed Annuity Fund issued a check payable to Hegarty in the amount of $56,036.32, and mailed it to Hegarty at her home address in Canton. While Hegarty was on vacation, the respondent removed the check from Hegarty’s mailbox. On or about June 29, 2000, the respondent forged Hegarty’s signature on the check, and converted her funds by depositing the check into his checking account at the Sovereign Bank. Hegarty did not authorize the respondent to remove the check from her mailbox, to sign her name on the check, or to deposit the check into his own bank account. During the following six weeks, the respondent spent or transferred from his Sovereign Bank checking account almost all of the money he had taken from Hegarty. The respondent never contacted Hegarty again and has made no restitution of the stolen money.

The respondent also failed to file a registration statement with the Board of Bar Overseers since 2002, and has not provided the Board of Bar Overseers with his current resident or office addresses.

By removing a letter from Hegarty’s mailbox, removing a check, forging Hegarty’s signature, depositing the check into his own bank account, and spending the proceeds, all without the knowledge or authorization of Hegarty, the respondent engaged in a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty and trustworthiness, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b); engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit and misrepresentation, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c); and engaged in conduct adversely reflecting on his fitness to practice law, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(h). By failing to provide the registration division of the B.B.O. with his current office and home addresses, the respondent violated S.J.C. Rule 4:02, § 1, and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4 (d) and (h).

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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