On an Order to Show Cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.
For disbarment -- Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Clifford, Schreiber, Pollock, O'Hern and Garibaldi.
This disciplinary proceeding arises out of a motion by the Office of Attorney Ethics for final disciplinary action. The motion is based on respondent's guilty pleas to two separate counts of misapplication of entrusted property under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-15.
The Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) accurately sets forth the following relevant facts:
On July 14, 1981, a Hunterdon County Grand Jury handed up Indictment # 299M80 against Respondent. In Count One, Respondent was charged with theft by failure to make required disposition of property received, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:20-9 and N.J.S.A. 2C:20-2b(2)(a) and (e).
It was alleged here that Respondent on July 15 and on July 30, 1980 in Flemington, Hunterdon County, obtained or retained $51,300 which belonged to Hunterdon County and that he failed to disburse this money for the condemnation of a tract of land known as the Watchtower property.
In Count Two of this Indictment, Respondent was charged with misapplication of entrusted property, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:21-15. It was alleged that he unlawfully applied or disposed of $51,300 belonging to Hunterdon County which had been entrusted to him as a fiduciary.
On February 10, 1982, a Hunterdon County Grand Jury returned Indictment #30J81, which charged Respondent and Stephen Gold with embezzlement (Count One, N.J.S.A. 2A:102-2) and with misapplication of entrusted property (Count Two, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-15).
Count One charged that on January 30, 1978 and August 31, 1979 in Flemington Borough and Raritan Township, Hunterdon County, and elsewhere in the state, the two defendants, both attorneys and acting on behalf of the Hunterdon County Board of Recreation Commissioners, embezzled money belonging to
Hunterdon County for the purchase of property known as the Alpaugh Tract. Count Two charged that the two attorneys between September 1, 1979 and December 10, 1980 in the same municipalities did unlawfully apply or dispose of over $1,000 in money belonging to Hunterdon County for the purchase of property known as the Alpaugh Tract.
Respondent pleaded guilty on June 21, 1982 to Count Two of both indictments before the Hon. Samuel D. Lenox, A.J.S.C. At this hearing, Respondent stated that he had been aware of a shortage of an undetermined amount in his trust account. While he was not able to determine the reason or the exact amount of this shortage, he continued to make disbursements from this trust account knowing there were insufficient funds in that account. He knew when the county funds ...