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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

NO. BD-1993-048


S.J.C. Judgment of Disbarment entered by Justice Cowin on July 24, 2009.1


The respondent was admitted to practice in 1974. He was temporarily suspended from the practice of law in 1993 and has never been reinstated. The temporary suspension resulted from the fact that the respondent’s whereabouts were unknown following his indictment on April 5, 1993 on five counts of willful failure to file Massachusetts income tax returns. The respondent defaulted on an appearance in the criminal case and, on June 28, 1993, the Suffolk Superior Court docketed the matter as “filed to locate pending apprehension.”

In late 2008, bar counsel located the respondent out of the country. In February 2009, a petition for discipline was filed against the respondent, based primarily on an unrelated complaint received in 1994. The underlying facts are as follows.

In December 1986, the respondent acted as settlement agent in a refinance of residential real estate. One of the items required to be paid off from the proceeds of the refinancing was a mortgage to the secretary of Housing and Urban Development. HUD could not provide the exact amount of the payoff as of the date of the closing. The respondent therefore withheld $12,000 in escrow from the proceeds to cover the payoff.

On March 30, 1987, HUD notified the respondent that the amount due on the mortgage was $10,360.85. On April 22, 1987, the borrowers were advised by the respondent’s office that a check had been sent to HUD. On May 6, 1987, the respondent sent the borrowers a check drawn on his trustee account in the amount of $1689.15, representing the balance due the borrowers from the escrow.

The respondent in fact never paid off the HUD mortgage. He instead intentionally converted the funds for his own personal or business purposes or those of other clients or third parties. By July 21, 1987, the balance in the trustee account was $201 without any payment having been made to HUD.

In early 1993, the respondent disappeared. He did not provide the Board of Bar Overseers with a change of address within 30 days as required by Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:02, § 1. In September 1993, the borrowers again refinanced their residence and learned for the first time that the HUD mortgage had not been paid off. They ultimately were able to obtain payment of the HUD mortgage through a title insurance policy claim.

The respondent’s conduct in intentionally misappropriating trust funds, with intent to deprive the intended recipient of the funds at least temporarily and with actual deprivation resulting, violated Canon One, DR 1-102(A)(4) and(6) and Canon Nine, DR 9-102(B)(3) and (4) as in effect prior to 1998. His failure to account for and to timely disburse trust funds in his possession violated Canon One, DR 9-102(B)(3) and (4) as in effect prior to 1998. His failure to provide the Board of Bar Overseers with a change of address in and after the spring of 1993 violated Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:02, § 1 and Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01, § 3.

Bar counsel filed a petition for discipline against the respondent on February 26, 2009. The respondent failed to file an answer to the petition. By letter dated March 26, 2009, the Board of Bar Overseers notified the respondent that the allegations in the petition were deemed admitted and that he had waived his right to be heard in mitigation. On June 8, 2009, the Board voted to recommend to the Supreme Judicial Court that the respondent be disbarred. The Court so ordered on July 24, 2009.


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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