On an order to show cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.
For disbarment -- Justices Handler, Pollock, O'Hern, Garibaldi and Stein. Opposed -- None.
Following a jury trial, respondent, Kenneth P. Zauber, was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 1962(d), and of soliciting kickbacks in connection with an employee benefit plan, in violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 1954. He also pled guilty in the Superior Court to obtaining controlled dangerous substances by fraud or misrepresentation, in violation of N.J.S.A. 24:21-22a(3), and to forgery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1a(2).
On motion of the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) unanimously recommended that respondent be disbarred. Respondent did not appeal his criminal convictions and asserts that he does not seek to impugn them in this proceeding. Instead, he argues that he should receive a less severe penalty or that the matter should be remanded to a District Ethics Committee to develop mitigating evidence about his drug dependency. We adopt the recommendation of the DRB.
Early in his career, respondent, who was admitted to the practice of law in 1965, distinguished himself as an Assistant
United States Attorney, counsel to the State Commission of Investigation, chief of the trial section in the Criminal Justice Division of the Department of Law and Public Safety, and municipal court judge for Hamilton Township. Even before the convictions that bring him before us, however, respondent ran afoul of the disciplinary system. In 1979, when he was a deputy attorney general, respondent was privately reprimanded for impropriety in soliciting an endorsement to support his quest for a judicial appointment. The person so solicited was the defendant in a civil action instituted by the Attorney General, an action in which respondent had assisted in drafting the complaint.
The DRB summarized the relevant facts about respondent's criminal convictions:
On September 18, 1984, respondent attempted to fill prescriptions for Schedule II controlled dangerous substances (tylox and ritalin) at two separate pharmacies, by using forged prescription blanks. Both pharmacists refused to fill the prescriptions.
Subsequent investigation revealed that respondent had fraudulently obtained, on approximately 100 occasions, certain pain killers, percodan and tylox, both of which are controlled dangerous substances, by means of forged prescription blanks. Respondent was then charged, via a two-count accusation, with obtaining controlled dangerous substances by fraud and misrepresentation, in violation of N.J.S.A. 24:21-22a(3). He was also charged with forgery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1a(2). He entered a guilty plea to both counts of the accusation on September 4, 1985. He was later sentenced, on December 13, 1985, to probation for two years and was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.
On January 8, 1986, pursuant to R. 1:20-6(a) and because of this conviction, respondent was temporarily suspended from the practice of law. That suspension remains in effect.
In 1979, while in private practice, respondent became general counsel to the employee pension benefit plan of Local 701 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("pension fund"), replacing his childhood friend, David Friedland. [Footnote omitted.]
Thereafter, in late 1986, respondent was convicted of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 1341; RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) conspiracy, in violation of 18 ...