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In re Fucetola

October 29, 1985

IN THE MATTER OF RALPH FUCETOLA, III, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

ORDER

The Disciplinary Review Board having filed a report with the Supreme Court recommending that RALPH FUCETOLA, III, of NORTH ARLINGTON, who was admitted to the Bar of this State in 1971, be publicly reprimanded for not maintaining proper records in violation of DR 9-102(C) and 1-102(A)(6), and good cause appearing;

It is ORDERED that the findings of the Disciplinary Review Board are hereby adopted and respondent is publicly reprimanded for his violation of DR 9-102(C) and 1-102(A)(6); at it is further

Ordered that the Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board, together with this order and the full record of the matter, be added as a permanent part of the file of said RALPH FUCETOLA, III, as an attorney at law of the State of New Jersey; and it is further

Ordered that RALPH FUCETOLA, III, reimburse the Ethics Financial Committee for appropriate administrative costs.

Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board

This matter is before the Board based upon a report filed by the District II (Bergen County) Ethics Committee, recommending that a private reprimand be issued due to inadequate record keeping. The Board makes the following findings of fact:

AUDIT-I.

On November 18, 1982 Respondent's books and records were audited at the direction of the then Division of Ethics and Professional Services (DEPS). This audit resulted from a claim by the Morristown Daily Record that it never received a check for $637.47 on account of collections made by Respondent on its behalf. The check, payable to Respondent, was dated December 1, 1978 and was deposited by Respondent on January 17, 1979. Respondent issued a trust account check on January 16, 1979 payable to the Daily Record for $637.47. This was the net amount after deducting his legal fee of 25 per cent. The bank statement dated January 23, 1979, indicated that the check cleared the bank. However, the check for the gross amount of $849.47 was returned unpaid by the bank on January 22, 1979. That check was never redeposited. In examining Respondent's records, the auditor noted that Respondent "lumped all collections

from various cases on one card." No running balance was maintained on the ledger card.

The auditor selected two trust ledger cards for testing. In one case, disbursements exceeded known receipts by $1,062.57. In the second case, disbursements exceeded known receipts by $2,306.12. The auditor checked two additional files and discovered that in one case no receipts were recorded on the trust ledger card, but the file showed evidence of a $4,500.00 receipt. In the second case, Respondent did not have a trust ledger card for the file. Based on his review of Respondent's books and records, the auditor concluded that Respondent did not maintain a running balance of his cash receipts and disbursements in his trust account. There were no bank reconciliations or reconciliations of trust ledger cards. Not all ...


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