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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2009-014

IN RE: MICHAEL G. SITES

S.J.C. Judgment of Disbarment entered by Justice Cordy on March 19, 2010.1

SUMMARY2

The respondent, Michael G. Sites, was admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth on December 22, 1978. His resignation in lieu of disbarment pursuant to S. J. C. Rule 4:01, § 15, was accepted by the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County in Matter of Sites, 6 Mass. Att’y Disc. R. 308 (1989). In his affidavit of resignation, the respondent admitted to commingling client funds with personal funds, converting client funds to pay personal office expenses, and failing to cooperate with bar counsel’s investigation. He acknowledged that he was in treatment for alcoholism.

The respondent was reinstated to the bar on August 25, 2003. Matter of Sites, 19 Mass. Att’y Disc. R. 448 (2003). In November 2007, the respondent represented a buyer at a closing in which the seller was a bank. There was a problem with the title. The respondent issued a check for $48,000 to the bank’s lawyer, and the bank’s lawyer and the respondent agreed that the bank’s lawyer would not negotiate the check and the respondent would hold the funds in escrow until the title problem could be resolved.

The title problem was not resolved until May 2008. In the meantime, the respondent converted the escrow funds to his own use in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(b)(1) and (f)(1)(C) and (f)(1)(E)(ii) and 8.4(c) and (h). In May, the respondent notified the bank’s lawyer that he had successfully recorded all the documents necessary to complete the sale, but when the bank’s lawyer attempted to negotiate the check, it was rejected as stale. The respondent had less than $650 in his IOLTA account when the check was rejected, so he arranged to borrow $50,000. He deposited these loan proceeds to his trust account and, in early June 2008, issued a new check, which was honored.

On October 16, 2008, the respondent admitted to sufficient facts to driving under the influence, and the case was continued without a finding for one year. On December 18, 2008, the respondent was convicted of negligent operation of a motor vehicle, for which he was placed on probation for two years, and operating under the influence, second offense, for which he was sentenced to the house of correction for sixty days, all suspended, and required to enter a fourteen-day inpatient program and abstain from alcohol. On September 30, 2009, the respondent was convicted of operating under the influence, third offense, a felony for which he was sentenced to two and one-half years in the house of correction, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, for which he was sentenced to four years’ probation. On November 13, 2009, the respondent was found in violation of probation ordered on the second driving-under offense and ordered to serve sixty days. The respondent did not report any of these convictions to bar counsel, thereby violating S. J. C. Rule 4:01, § 12(8).

The respondent’s convictions violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(b) and (h), and his violation of probation constituted a violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c) and 8.4(d) and (h). The respondent’s failure to report his convictions to bar counsel within ten days of the conviction violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c) and 8.4(d) and (h).

On February 8, 2010, the respondent filed an affidavit of resignation pursuant to S. J. C. Rule 4:01, § 15, in which admitted to the foregoing misconduct and rule violations. Bar counsel recommended that the respondent’s affidavit of resignation be accepted and a judgment of disbarment enter. The respondent was temporarily suspended from the practice of law on February 19, 2009, but because he committed additional misconduct after the effective date of the temporary suspension, bar counsel recommended that the effective date of the disbarment be the date of entry of the judgment and not the effective date of the temporary suspension.

On March 8, 2010, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to recommend to the county court that the affidavit of resignation be accepted and a judgment of disbarment enter effective on the date of entry. On March 19, 2010, the county court (Cordy, J.) accepted the affidavit of resignation and entered a judgment of disbarment effective immediately upon entry.


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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