C. Frost, Esq., Chair Edna Y. Baugh, Esq., Vice-Chair Peter
J. Boyer, Esq. Bruce W. Clark, Esq. Hon. Maurice J. Gallipoli
Thomas J. Hoberman Eileen Rivera Anne C. Singer, Esq. Robert
A. Brodsky CHIEF COUNSEL.
T. Granuzzo Deputy Chief Counsel.
Melissa Urban Firstassistant Counsel.
Timothy M. Ellis Lillian Lewin Barry R. Petersen, Jr Colin T.
Tams Kathryn Anne Winterle assistant counsel.
Disciplinary Review Board reviewed the motion for discipline
by consent (reprimand or such lesser discipline as the Board
may deem appropriate) filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics
(OAE), pursuant to R. 1:20-10(b). Following a review of the
record, the Board determined to grant the motion. In the
Board's view, a reprimand is the appropriate measure of
discipline for respondent's violations of RPC
1.15(d) and R. 1:21-6 (recordkeeping violations) and
RPC 7.5(e) (using misleading attorney letterhead).
respondent admitted having committed the following
recordkeeping violations: (1) client ledger cards contained
debit balances; (2) inactive ledger balances were maintained
in the trust account; (3) outstanding, unresolved trust
account checks remained in the trust account; (4) the
attorney business account had an improper designation; (5) a
rubber signature stamp was used to sign trust account checks;
(6) trust and business account image-processed checks were
noncompliant; and (7) proper records of electronic transfers
were not maintained. Respondent's actions in this regard
were in violation of R. 1:21-6 and RPC 1.15(d).
also used the designation "& Associates" on his
attorney letterhead when, in fact, he has no association with
any other attorneys. In doing so, respondent violated
irregularities ordinarily are met with an admonition, so long
as they have not caused a negligent misappropriation of
clients' funds. See, e.g., In the
Matter of Eric Salzman, DRB 15-064 (May 27, 2015);
In the Matter of Leonard S. Miller, DRB 14-178
(September 23, 2014); In the Matter of Sebastian Onyi
Ibezim, Jr., DRB 13-405 (March 26, 2014) (attorney
maintained outstanding trust balances for a number of
clients, some of whom were unidentified); and In the
Matter of Stephen Schnitzer, DRB 13-386 (March 26,
the absence of a negligent misappropriation, however, a
reprimand may be imposed if the attorney has prior
discipline. See, e.g., In re
Michals, 224 N.J. 457 (2015) (reprimand by consent; an
OAE audit revealed that the attorney had issued trust account
checks to himself or others for personal or business
expenses; because, however, he maintained sufficient personal
funds in his trust account, he did not invade client funds;
following a prior admonition for negligent misappropriation
of client funds and recordkeeping violations, the attorney
still failed to resolve several improprieties); In re
Murray, 220 N.J. 47 (2014) (reprimand by consent; a
random compliance audit by the OAE revealed that the attorney
had not corrected some of the same recordkeeping violations
for which he had been admonished one month earlier); and
In re Del Tufo, 210 N.J. 183 (2012) (attorney
routinely deposited personal and business funds in his trust
account and paid personal and business expenses out of that
account; although the account was overdrawn at one point, no
trust funds were on deposit at the time; the attorney was
also guilty of other recordkeeping deficiencies and of not
cooperating with the OAE in the scheduling of an audit; prior
admonition and earlier commingling practices identified by
the OAE were balanced against compelling mitigating factors).
attorneys found guilty of using improper or misleading
letterhead have received admonitions. See, e.g.
In the Matter of Raymond A. Oliver, DRB 09-368 (March
24, 2010) (between 2005 and 2008, the attorney listed three
other attorneys as being of counsel to his law firm; two of
the three had been sitting judges, as of 1999 and 2002; at
the time that the attorneys' names appeared on the
letterhead, they did not have the close, ongoing relationship
with the attorney's law firm required to list them as of
counsel; indeed, during the time in question, the attorney
had no professional relationship with them; violations of RPC
7.1(a), RPC 7.5(a), and RPC 8.4(d); and In the
Matter of Carlos A. Rendo. DRB 08-040 (May 19,
2008) (the attorney's letterhead failed to indicate the
jurisdictional limitations on those attorneys not licensed to
practice in New Jersey; a law partner had been admitted to
practice law in New York, but not in New Jersey; violations
of RPC 7.1(a) and RPC 7.5(a)).
aggravation, on March 26, 2014, respondent was admonished for
similar recordkeeping violations. Therefore, this case marks
the second time that an OAE audit of respondent's
attorney books and records has uncovered old, unresolved
client balances remaining in the attorney trust ...