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In re Goldberg

Decided: February 20, 1987.

IN THE MATTER OF GERALD M. GOLDBERG, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW


On an Order to Show Cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.

For affirmance -- Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Clifford, Handler, Pollock, O'Hern, Garibaldi and Stein. For reversal -- None.

Per Curiam

[105 NJ Page 278] This attorney disciplinary matter is before the Court on a Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB or Board). The respondent, Gerald M. Goldberg, was indicted in December 1984 by a Federal Grand Jury. The indictment charged respondent and thirteen others with felony

violations of Subchapters I and II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. Pursuant to a plea agreement, on April 29, 1985, respondent entered a guilty plea to a one-count Superseding Information, which charged him with conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, a Schedule II controlled substance, phenylacetone,*fn1 contrary to 21 U.S.C.A. ยง 846. This offense is a federal felony, which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a $15,000 fine.

On June 20, 1985, respondent was sentenced in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. He received a suspended sentence, was placed on three years probation and fined $5,000. As a special condition of probation, respondent was ordered to perform fifteen hours of community service per week during the first two years of his probation.

As a result of his criminal conviction respondent was temporarily suspended from the practice of law by this Court on September 5, 1985. This action was taken pursuant to Rule 1:20-6(a)(1), providing for the automatic temporary suspension of an attorney convicted of a serious crime, which includes "any felony of the United States. . . ." R. 1:20-6(a)(2).

The DRB concluded that respondent's criminal conviction demonstrates that he has "engaged in illegal conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law" in violation of Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(3) and Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b), and further that he knowingly "engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation" in violation of Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(4) and Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(c), and that he counselled and assisted his client in conduct that he knew to be illegal, criminal and fraudulent in violation of Disciplinary Rule 7-102(A)(7) and

Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(d). The Board unanimously recommended that respondent be disbarred.

I.

In disciplinary proceedings against an attorney, a criminal conviction is conclusive evidence of respondent's guilt. R. 1:20-6(b)(1); Matter of Coruzzi, 98 N.J. 77 (1984). Once an attorney has been convicted of a crime, the sole question remaining is the extent of discipline to be imposed. R. 1:20-6(b)(2)(ii); Matter of Infinito, 94 N.J. 50, 56 (1983).

Because a judgment of conviction is conclusive evidence of respondent's guilt, there is no need to make an independent examination of the underlying facts to ascertain guilt. Matter of Bricker, 90 N.J. 6, 10 (1982). The underlying facts, however, may be relevant to the nature and extent of discipline to be imposed. In re Rosen, 88 N.J. 1 (1981).

We have independently examined the record and are satisfied that the DRB's determination of the underlying facts are supported by clear ...


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