IN THE MATTER OF C. PETER BURRO AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
Argued: February 15, 2018
District Docket No. XIV-2015-0021E
C. Frost, Chair.
Glyn appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics-
Respondent waived appearance for oral argument.
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on a recommendation for an admonition
filed by the District I Ethics Committee (DEC). It was
originally before us at our October 19, 2017 session, at
which time we determined to treat the admonition as a
recommendation for greater discipline, in accordance with
R. 1: 2O-I5(f) (4) . A one-count complaint charged
respondent with violations of RPC 1.1(a) (gross
neglect), RPC 1.3 (lack of diligence), RPC
1.4(b) (failure to keep the client reasonably informed about
the status of the matter and to promptly comply with
reasonable requests for information), RPC 1.16(d) (failure to
return the client file upon termination of the
representation), and RPC 8.1(b) and R. 1:20-3(g)(3) (failure
to cooperate with ethics authorities).
determine to impose a reprimand.
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 197 9, to the Florida
bar in 1976, and to the Pennsylvania bar in 1980. On October
11, 1990, he received a private reprimand for borrowing $3,
900 from an elderly client, without complying with the
requirements of RPC 1.8. In the Matter of C. Peter
Burro, DRB 90-276 (October 11, 1990).
September 30, 2013, the Court entered an Order declaring
respondent ineligible to practice law for failure to pay the
2013 annual attorney assessment to the New Jersey
Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection. He remains
ineligible for failure to pay the annual attorney assessment
for each subsequent year through 2017. In addition, on both
November 17, 2014 and November 16, 2015, the Court entered an
Order declaring respondent ineligible for failure to comply
with continuing legal education requirements. He remains
ineligible to date. Finally, on October 27, 2015, the Court
entered an Order declaring respondent ineligible for failure
to comply with the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA)
program. According to a Notice to the Bar, dated October 6,
2016, respondent's name was removed from the 2015 IOLTA
Sisbarro, Executrix of the Estate of Anthony DiLeo (her
uncle), retained respondent (her former brother-in-law) in
2003 to probate the will and complete the distribution of the
estate. DiLeo passed away on August 15, 2003.
January 4, 2006, the New Jersey Division of Taxation (the
Division) sent respondent a Notice of Assessment for estate
taxes of $225, 000, with accrued interest of $40, 746.58,
along with instructions for him to remit payment of $265,
746.58. When respondent failed to do so, the Division filed a
certificate of debt on Sisbarro's own house for
failure, as Executrix, to pay the estate's delinquent
participated in the DEC hearing by telephone. He testified
that he did not recall receiving documents from the Division,
but had he received such a document, he would have challenged
it, "because the assessment appears to be
arbitrary." Respondent was unable, however, to place a
value on the estate.
between respondent and Sisbarro, from December 3, 2010
through October 26, 2012, show that Sisbarro repeatedly
requested information about the status of the estate. Her
pleas became increasingly urgent, as time passed and
respondent appeared to be making no progress in completing
the estate. On occasion, respondent replied to her e-mails,
including, for example, an August 2, 2012 e-mail, which
stated, "I am doing what I can to wrap this up, Annie,
hang in there with me." Further, on October 12, 2012,
respondent replied to Sisbarro's October 8, 2012 e-mail
as follows: "Way to slow [sic] for ALL of us, Aunt A. I
did get your emails. I am not ignoring them or you, my dear.
With lustre, this will soon be a distant memory."
Respondent did not deny the substance of these e-mails.
DEC hearing, respondent claimed that Sisbarro had sought to
delay the completion of the estate from 2003 until 2009, in
order to avoid creditors, including "Syracuse or
Columbia or Cornell ... I forget which college [DiLeo] left a
lot of money to." He accused Sisbarro of wanting to
avoid paying those entities because "she wanted it for
herself." The record, however, contained no evidence to
support this contention. Respondent further claimed that,
early in the representation, he had made a partial
distribution of $7, 500 to Sisbarro and three other
respondent communicated with Sisbarro through October 2012,
he asserted that, in 2009, Sisbarro had "fired"
him. He conceded, however, that he had no proof that Sisbarro
had terminated the representation that year. In this and
other areas of questioning related to the representation,
respondent's memory was poor, perhaps for medical
reasons, described below.
record contains a copy of the following April 17, 2013 e-mail
As I have not heard from you in over 6 months with regard to
the estate, which you advised would be finalized over a year
ago, I met with an attorney this morning to discuss the
actions required to obtain my file. I am requesting you
either finalize this open matter or send my file to me within
the next 7 business days or I will be forced to take legal
Your negligence and indifference to the personal financial
effect this has on all parties concerned is unconscionable I
do not want to pursue litigation for negligence, malpractice
and ethics but will do so if necessary. Your choice . . . get
back to me with your response as this is the last inquiry I
will make before taking further action.
respondent did not address the above e-mail, at the hearing,
he testified that he had suffered a stroke in April 2013, and
ceased practicing law thereafter. He ...