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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2008-058

IN RE: JOSEPH M. CARREIRO, JR.

S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cordy on February 4, 2009.1

SUMMARY2

Between September 2002 and January 2006, the respondent worked as an associate in a law firm. The respondent was paid a weekly salary and was required as a condition of employment to turn over to the law firm all legal fees paid to the respondent.

In June 2005, clients of the law firm gave to the respondent a check for $1,718 for legal fees owed to the firm. The respondent converted the funds to his own use with the intent to deprive the law firm of its funds and with actual deprivation resulting.

In January 2006, the respondent ceased working as an associate in the law firm. In May 2006, a partner in the law firm conducted an audit of the firmís client invoices and bank accounts and discovered that the clients had been credited with the $1,718 payment but that there was no corresponding deposit. The partner faxed a copy of the clientsí invoice to the respondent, with a note on the invoice: ďNO RECORD OF DEPOSITÖPLEASE ADVISE.Ē

On May 22, 2006, the respondent informed the partner that the respondent had paid the clientsí fee to the law firm by a check drawn on the respondentís IOLTA account and made payable to the firm. The respondent claimed that the law firm had deposited the check on July 13, 2005. The respondent knew that both of these representations were false.

Later on May 22, the respondent faxed the partner a copy of check that the respondent purported to have sent to the law firm on July 8, 2005. The respondent had fabricated this check by entering information on the front of a blank check from his IOLTA account and attaching the front of the check to the back of an unrelated check that had been negotiated by the law firm.

The partner was unable to verify that the check provided to him by the respondent had been deposited in any of law firmís accounts. The partner therefore had the check reviewed by the branch manager of a local bank, who informed the partner that the check was not genuine.

On June 11, 2007, the partner filed with the Office of the Bar Counsel a request for investigation into the respondentís conduct. After receiving notice from bar counsel of this request, the respondent admitted his misconduct and made full restitution, including interest, to the partner.

The respondentís failure promptly to notify the partner of his receipt of funds on the firmís behalf and his failure promptly to turn those funds over to the law firm violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(c) (lawyer shall promptly deliver to third person funds that the lawyer is holding and to which the third person is entitled to receive). The respondentís conversion of the law firmís funds to his own use violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation). The respondentís failure to account to the law firm for the funds violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(d) (lawyer shall promptly render a full written accounting of trust property received by the lawyer). The respondentís false statements and his providing a fabricated check to the partner violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) and (h) (conduct that adversely reflects on a lawyerís fitness to practice law).

In aggravation, the respondent received an admonition in 2001 for assisting his landlord, a nonlawyer, in holding himself out as a lawyer. AD 01-54, 17 Mass. Attíy Disc. R 763 (2001). In mitigation, the clients were not called upon to pay additional funds to the firm, and the funds converted belonged to the respondentís employer.

On June 5, 2008, an order was entered in the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County temporarily suspending the respondent from the practice of law effective immediately. On December 9, 2008, the parties submitted a stipulation to the Board of Bar Overseers recommending that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two years retroactive to the date of his temporary suspension.

On January 30, 2009, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to accept the stipulation of the parties and their proposed sanction. On February 4, 2009, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County ordered that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two years retroactive to June 5, 2008.


FOOTNOTES:

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 filed with the Supreme Judicial Court.



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