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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-2009-109


S.J.C. Order of Indefinite Suspension entered by Justice Botsford on May 24, 2010, with an effective date of October 29, 2009.1

Memorandum of Decision and Order

Pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 16, bar counsel seeks an order of reciprocal discipline against the respondent, who was admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth in 2001. On October 29, 2009, the respondent was disbarred by the Supreme Court of Rhode Island. The judgment of disbarment was based on the intentional misappropriation of client funds; the Rhode Island Supreme Court determined that "[o]n six different occasions, spanning a time frame of over one year, the respondent received funds belonging to clients, failed to notify the clients he had received those funds, and converted those funds to his own use." The court went on to rule that the presumptive sanction for intentional misappropriation is disbarment, and that no mitigating factors justified a departure from that sanction in this case.

Under rule 4:01, § 16(3), this court may impose reciprocal discipline identical to that of the other jurisdiction - here Rhode Island - unless, among other reasons, "the misconduct established does not justify the same discipline in this Commonwealth." In the Commonwealth, intentional deprivation of a client's funds with an intent to deprive at least temporarily has a presumptive sanction of disbarment or indefinite suspension. See Matter of Schoepfer, 426 Mass. 183, 187 (1997). A significant factor in determining which sanction is appropriate is restitution. Compare Matter of Bryan, 411 Mass. 288, 291-292 (1991), with Matter of Thalheimer, 24 Mass. Att'y Discipline Rep. 684, 689-690 (2008). In the present case, bar counsel represents that the respondent has made full restitution to his clients. In the circumstances, and with the agreement of bar counsel, I conclude that the appropriate discipline to impose is a sanction of indefinite suspension.


For the foregoing reasons, and pursuant to S J.C. Rule 4:01, § 16, it is ordered that the respondent be indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in the Commonwealth, effective as of October 29, 2009.


1 The complete Order of the Court is available by contacting the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

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