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Matter of Messinger

Decided: July 23, 1993.

IN THE MATTER OF LEONARD A. MESSINGER, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW


On an order to show cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.

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

Per Curiam

ORDER

It is ORDERED that LEONARD A. MESSINGER of NEW YORK, NEW YORK, who was admitted to the bar of this State in 1974, and who was temporarily suspended by this Court on March 22, 1989, and who remains suspended at this time, be disbarred and that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys of this State, effective immediately; and it is further

Ordered that LEONARD A. MESSINGER be and hereby is permanently restrained and enjoined from practicing law; and it is further

Ordered that all funds, if any, currently existing in any New Jersey financial institution maintained by LEONARD A. MESSINGER, pursuant to Rule 1:21-6, shall be restrained from disbursement except upon application to this Court, for good cause shown, and shall be transferred by the financial institution to the Clerk of the Superior Court who is directed to deposit the funds in the Superior Court Trust Fund, pending further Order of this Court; and it is further

Ordered that LEONARD A. MESSINGER comply with Administrative Guideline No. 23 of the Office of Attorney Ethics dealing with disbarred attorneys; and it is further

Ordered that LEONARD A. MESSINGER reimburse the Ethics Financial Committee for appropriate administrative costs.

This disciplinary proceeding comes before the Court on the application of the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) for final discipline based on respondent's criminal convictions on several serious federal charges. The Disciplinary Review Board (DRB or Board) rejected the OAE's request that the Board recommend that the Court disbar respondent, and instead unanimously recommended

that we suspend him for a period equal to respondent's suspension in New York and until he is restored to practice in that state. The OAE continues to press for disbarment. Our independent review of the record leads us to reject the Board's recommendation and to order that respondent's name be stricken from the rolls.

I

Respondent, Leonard Messinger, was admitted to the bar in New York in 1964 and in New Jersey in 1974. He began his career in his chosen area of tax law as an "Attorney Advisor" or law clerk to a Judge of the United States Tax Court in Washington, D.C. After practicing as a tax associate at two Manhattan law firms, followed by a brief stint in New Jersey, respondent returned to New York in 1980, where he became a partner in the New York law firm of Goldschmidt Fredericks Kurzman & Oshatz, which in 1981 became Goldschmidt Fredericks & Oshatz. He remained with that firm until July 1985, at which time he became counsel to another Manhattan firm.

In December 1987 a federal grand jury in New York returned a sixteen-count indictment against respondent and his former law partner, Michael P. Oshatz. After a twelve-week trial a jury convicted respondent on the nine counts in which he was named, charging him with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by engaging in fraudulent securities transactions for the purpose of generating tax losses, a violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 371; seven counts of aiding in the filing of false tax returns for various partnerships, contrary to 26 U.S.C.A. § 7206(2); and one count of filing a false personal income-tax return for calendar year 1981, a violation of 26 U.S.C.A. § 7206(1).

The evidence in the federal prosecution demonstrated that the conspiracy, which commenced in 1979, began as a joint effort of Edward Markowitz, who was the "mastermind," and his attorney, Michael Oshatz. Respondent did not join Oshatz's law firm until ...


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