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In re Langione

Supreme Court of New Jersey

January 11, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF JAMES R. LANGIONE AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

          Argued: October 19, 2017

         Disciplinary Review Board District Docket No. XIV-2016-0272E

          Reid Adler appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics.

          Respondent waived appearance for oral argument.

          Ellen A. Brodsky, Chief Counsel.

          CORRECTED DECISION

          Bonnie C. Frost, Chair

         To the Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

         This matter was before us on a motion for reciprocal discipline filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to R.1:20-14(a)(4), based on respondent's six-month suspension in New York, effective July 24, 2015, for failure to monitor his attorney trust account and to properly supervise an employee who stole trust funds. We determine to impose a prospective, six-month suspension.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1987 and the New York bar in 1982. He has no prior discipline; however, on August 28, 2014, the Court entered an Order declaring respondent ineligible to practice, based on his failure to pay his annual registration fee to the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection (CPF). He remains ineligible to date.

         Respondent did not notify the OAE of his six-month suspension in New York, R. 1:20-14(a)(1) requires.

         On December 21, 2012, the Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District of New York filed a Petition containing twelve ethics charges against respondent. On April 19, 2013, respondent filed an answer.

         On June 13 and October 17, 2013, a hearing was held before a special referee, after which he filed a report, dated March 25, 2014, sustaining all of the charges against respondent. On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Part, rendered its opinion and order, confirming charges one through five, and seven through twelve. Charge nine was partially sustained, while charge six was dismissed as duplicative.

         Respondent and his law partner, Peter Galasso (Galasso), failed to supervise Anthony Galasso (Anthony), their bookkeeper/office manager and Galasso's brother. Anthony stole in excess of $4.5 million of client funds held in two attorney escrow accounts. New York disciplinary authorities suspended Galasso for two years for violating his fiduciary obligations to the clients whose funds were stolen.

         In respondent's matter, the Appellate Division quoted an excerpt from the Court of Appeals decision in Galasso's case, which summarized the underlying facts as follows:

Anthony Galasso, in his capacity as office manager, deposited the funds into an escrow account at Signature Bank (the Baron escrow account). [Peter Galasso] and fellow partner James Langione were the only authorized [signatories] on the account application. However, Anthony Galasso apparently altered the application to permit electronic fund transfers and to include himself a - [nonlawyer] - as a [signatory].
Between June 23, 2004, and January 1, 2007, Anthony Galasso transferred approximately $4, 501, 571 from the Baron escrow account into six other firm accounts maintained at Signature Bank through the use of roughly 90 Internet transfers. It seems that the Baron funds were used to replace money that Anthony Galasso had already removed from [other] firm accounts. Transferred funds from the Baron escrow account were then disbursed to [Peter Galasso], firm employees and other entities in the course of business, all without the knowledge of the firm's principals or the consent of the Barons. In particular, approximately $360, 000 in funds transferred from the Baron escrow account were used to finance the purchase of the firm's office condominium. To ...

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