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In re Ellsworth

February 4, 1985

IN THE MATTER OF STEPHEN L. ELLSWORTH, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

ORDER

This matter having come before the Court on an Order to Show Cause why STEPHEN L. ELLSWORTH of MAGNOLIA

should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined for his violations of DR 1-102(A)(3), (4) and (6), DR 2-106(A), DR 6-101(A)(1) and (2), DR 6-102(a) and DR 7-101(A)(1) and (2), and said STEPHEN L. ELLSWORTH having failed to appear before this Court on the return date of said Order to Show Cause, and good cause appearing;

It is ORDERED that the report of the Disciplinary Review Board recommending that respondent be disbarred is hereby adopted; and it is further

Ordered that STEPHEN L. ELLSWORTH be disbarred and that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys of this State, effective immediately; and it is further

Ordered that STEPHEN L. ELLSWORTH be and hereby is permanently restrained and enjoined from practicing law; and it is further

Ordered that STEPHEN L. ELLSWORTH reimburse the Ethics Financial Committee for appropriate administrative costs.

Report of the Disciplinary Review Board

This matter is before the Board based upon three presentments filed by the District IV (Camden County) Ethics Committee.

Respondent is charged with endorsing and cashing a check made payable to his employer without authorization; fraudulently obtaining property, using it for his own benefit and deceiving the owner concerning promised payments, contrary to DR 1-102(A)(3), (4) and (6); neglecting a legal matter entrusted to him, exhibiting a pattern of negligence in handling legal affairs, failing to carry out a contract of employment and receiving a retainer while knowing he would not perform legal services, contrary to DR 1-102(A)(4) and (6), and 7-101(A)(2).

He also is charged with attempting to compromise ethics complaints, contrary to DR 6-102(A).

The charges are summarized as follows:

1. JOSEPHSON BAR REVIEW

While a law student, Respondent was employed as the campus coordinator for Josephson Bar Review (JBR) at Delaware Law School. He would receive enrollment applications from law students for the JBR course and forward the money to the company. He did not have authorization to cash checks.

He received a check dated June 14, 1979 for $325 from a law student as an enrollment fee for the course. Instead of forwarding this check to the JBR office, he endorsed it and deposited the money in his personal account. JBR later learned of this when the student sought to transfer his course enrollment from summer 1979 to winter 1980. When asked by JBR for an explanation, Respondent replied by letter dated May 14, 1980 that he had accidentally cashed the check and put the money into his own account. He reimbursed JBR for the full amount, but included on the check endorsement that it was in full satisfaction of all claims and liabilities. JBR did not cash the check.

When the matter was first considered by the Ethics Committee in 1982, Respondent challenged the Committee's jurisdiction to hear the case since he was not an attorney at the time. The Ethics Committee agreed with him. The Division of Ethics and Professional Services appealed to this Board which reversed and remanded the matter. Neither the complainant nor Respondent appeared at the Ethics Committee hearing on August 22, 1983. Respondent had filed an answer to the complaint in which he stated that the check was accidentally deposited into his account when he was operating the Bar Review office out of his house. The Ethics Committee concluded that Respondent knowingly endorsed the check and knowingly used the proceeds for his own benefit.


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