IN THE MATTER OF EDWARD GLEN JOHNSON AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
Argued: April 19, 2018
A. Brodsky, Chief Counsel
District Docket No. XIV-2014-0698E
C. Frost, Chair
Kim appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics.
Scott B. Piekarsky appeared on behalf of respondent.
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on, a recommendation for a reprimand,
filed by the District I IB Ethics Committee (DEC). The
nine-count complaint charged respondent with violations of
RPC 1.15(a) (six counts) (negligent
misappropriation); RPC 1.15(d) and R. 1:21-6 (five
counts) (recordkeeping); and RPC 1.7(a)(1) and (2)
(three counts) (conflict of interest). For the reasons stated
below, we determine to impose a reprimand.
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1989. On August 4,
2009, he was admonished for failure to safeguard funds.
Respondent allowed one of two clients he represented in a
real estate transaction to invest all of the closing proceeds
without the knowledge or consent of the other. In the
Matter of Edward Glen Johnson, DRB 09-049 (August 4,
record and the evidence in this matter are neither clear nor
cogent. The Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), however,
clarified various issues in its post-hearing submission to
the panel. Subsequently, in his submission to us, respondent
agreed with the DEC'S findings of fact and recommendation
that he receive a reprimand. The OAE also urged the
imposition of a reprimand.
connection with an ongoing investigation, respondent met with
OAE investigators, on March 23, 2015, and was required to
produce the necessary documents to show compliance with the
recordkeeping rules. Respondent was unable to do so,
explaining that he had lost his records due to a computer
crash. With the help of an accountant, respondent prepared
reconstructed ledger sheets. After a review of the re-created
records, the OAE filed a complaint.
One: The Dacres-Wilson Matter
2007, respondent represented Barlow Dacres in the sale of
real estate in Irvington to Delworth K. Wilson and Mona
Murphy (the irvington transaction). Purusant to an escrow
agreement that the parties entered into, Dacres issued an
escrow check for $2, 500, which was deposited into
respondent's trust account, to be held pending receipt of
necessary documents. Respondent failed to keep the escrow
money intact on two separate occasions during the
approximately eight-year period he held the money in his
on July 17, 2013, respondent made a $55, 000 wire transfer
that reduced the Dacres sub-account balance to $2,
350, $150 less than the $2, 500 escrow amount he was required
to hold. The next day, July 18, 2013, respondent deposited
$61, 000 into the Dacres sub-account, curing the
on September 19, 2013, after respondent made several other
deposits, check number 8047 for $140, 603 cleared his trust
account, leaving a balance of $2, 350, $150 less than the $2,
500 escrow amount that he was required to hold in respect of
the Irvington transaction. That shortage was not cured until
after March 8, 2016.
testified that, at the relevant times, he maintained legal
fees of $200 in connection with an unrelated matter (the
Lane/Robinson matter), covering the inadvertent
shortage in the Dacres sub-account.
post-hearing written summation to the hearing panel, the OAE
conceded that respondent's $2 00 fee from the
Lane/Robinson matter was sufficient to cover the
Dacres shortage of $150, and, therefore, no
negligent misappropriation occurred.
Twos Failure to Maintain Three-Way Reconciliations
admitted, in his amended verified answer to the complaint,
that he did not prepare monthly three-way-reconciliations
prior to the OAE's investigation. The OAE investigator
also testified that, during his interview, respondent
conceded that he did not keep those reports or records.
Three; The Varona Matter
5, 2014, respondent issued check number 8182 for $2, 762.77
in connection with the Varona matter. Prior to
respondent's issuance of the check, the Varona
ledger showed an account balance of $1, 804.26. The check
cleared on June 9, 2014, leaving a balance of ($958.51). The
ledger cards for the Varona matter show no further
post-hearing written summation, the OAE asserted that, as
respondent admitted in his testimony, he did not promptly
deposit checks for his legal fees into his attorney business
account. Those fees remained in his trust account. Respondent
claimed that he had sufficient legal fees in his trust
account to cover the Varona shortage.
conducted a review of respondent's client ledgers, and
found the following attorney's fees in his trust account,
during the June 9 to August 1, 2014 period:
• Check number 8179, issued on June 4, 2014, for $1, 200
in the Arias matter. This check cleared on July 8,
• Check number 8233, issued on July 30, 2014, for $1,
300 in the Silva matter. This check cleared on
November 5, 2014; and
• Check number 8234, issued on July 30, 2014, for $435
also in the Silva matter. This check cleared on
August 1, 2014.
according to the OAE, respondent's fees covered the
shortage from June 9 to July 8, 2014, and from July 30 to
August 1, 2014. A shortage existed, however, from July 9 to
July 29, 2014.
Four; The Rosario Matter
January 1, 2011, respondent's ledger card for the Rosario
matter indicated a balance of $13, 106.84, On January 11,
2011, respondent initiated a wire transfer from the
Rosario subaccount for $19, 306.84, leaving a
balance of ($6, 200). That negative balance remained until
September 14, 2011, when respondent transferred $4, 700 from
PRO REO, another client for whom he was holding
funds, to Rosario. This transfer left a negative
balance in the Rosario sub-account of $1, 500, which
remained until October 31, 2011, when a deposit for $1, 500
cleared respondent's trust account, leaving a zero
balance in the Rosario sub-account.
review of respondent's client ledgers, the OAE found the
following attorney's fees in his trust account from
January 31 to March 29, 2011 and March 30 to October 31,
• Check number 7482, issued on January 8, 2011, for $1,
293, in the Rosario matter. This check cleared on
March 30, 2011;
• Check number 7551, issued on August 19, 2011, for $3,
379.35, in the PRO REO matter. This check cleared
September 6, 2011;
• Check number 7567, issued on September 12, 2011, for
$1, 500, in the Whitening matter. This check cleared on
November 21, 2011; and
• Check number 7568, issued on September 12, 2011, for
$325, also in the Whitening matter. This check
cleared on October 7, 2011.
to the OAE, check number 7482 covered a shortage of $378.46
from January 31 to March 29, 2011. In respect of the $6, 200
shortage, the OAE stated in its summation brief:
However, the shortage of $6, 200 was never fully covered by
respondent's remaining fees in his trust account from
March 30, 2011, to October 30, 2011. Rather, the shortage was
reduced to $2, 820.65 from August 19, 2011, to September 6,
2011. It was reduced to $4375 from September 12, 2011, to
October 7, 2011. Then the shortage was reduced to $4700 from
October 8, 2011, to October 31, 2011.
Five; The BMP/Burse Matter
April 29, 2012, a $5, 000 deposit was made into
respondent's trust account under the BMP
sub-account. On May 14, 2012, respondent issued check number
7630, for $6, 000, from the BMP account, which
cleared the account on May 22, 2012, leaving a negative $1,
000 balance. On May 15, 2012, a deposit for $1, 000 had been
made, thereby eliminating any negative balance noted on the
client ledger. Respondent maintained that, because check
number 7630 cleared the account on May 22, 2012, after the
additional $1, 000 deposit was made, there was never an
27, 2012, respondent initiated a $55, 340.99 wire transfer
from the BMO sub-account, resulting in a $51, 270.99 deficit
on the BMO client ledger. The following day, June 28, 2012,
respondent transferred $63, 000 to the BMO sub-account from
another client, Lawrence, for whom he was holding money,
curing the deficit.
April 26, 2013, respondent initiated a $50, 000.91 wire
transfer, resulting in, a ($35, 918.73) balance on the client
ledger. Four days later, on April 30, 2013, respondent made a
$38, 500 deposit, curing the deficit.
January 10, 2014, respondent withdrew $18, 363.83 from the
BMO sub-account, leaving a balance of ($15, 984.58) on the
client ledger. On March 13, 2014, he deposited $1, 000,
reducing the deficit to ($14, 984.58). On April 10, 2014,
respondent initiated an internal transfer for $3, 000 from
Frazier, another client for whom he held funds,
further reducing the deficit to ($11, 984.58). On June 3 and
June 6, 2014, respondent made deposits of $5, 000 and $21,
000 respectively, eliminating the deficit.
on May 7, 2015, respondent initiated a $70, 000 wire transfer
that left a deficit of ($5, 115.28) in the BMP sub-
account. On May 29, 2015, respondent initiated an internal
transfer for $5, 200 from Greene, another client for
whom he was holding funds, curing the deficit and leaving a
balance of $84.72 in the BMP sub-account.
post-hearing review of respondent's client ledger cards
regarding the BMP matter, the OAE found the
following attorney's fee still in his ...