Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Lee

Supreme Court of New Jersey

September 18, 2018

In The Matter of Pamela Terraine Lee An Attorney At Law

          Argued: June 21, 2018

          Hillary K. Horton appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics.

          Respondent did not appear, despite proper notice.

          Ellen A. Broclsky Chief Counsel.

          DECISION

         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), after respondent was permitted to resign her license in New York, following the filing of a petition charging her with numerous instances of knowing misappropriation of client and escrow funds entrusted to her care in connection with several real estate transactions. Respondent admitted, in the New York matter, that she could not successfully defend herself against the charges, and that she "willfully misappropriated or misapplied money or property in the practice of law," and violated the equivalent of New Jersey RPC 1.15(a) (knowing misappropriation).

         We determine to recommend that respondent be disbarred for knowing misappropriation of client and escrow funds.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1997 and the New York bar in 1996. She has no prior discipline in New Jersey.

         On March 4, 2016, the Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District of the Supreme Court of New York filed a verified petition against respondent, alleging numerous instances of misappropriation of client or escrow funds held in her attorney escrow account, the functional equivalent of a New Jersey attorney trust account. In 2013, respondent maintained one such escrow account at Wallkill Valley Federal Savings and Loan (Wallkill AEA).

         A July 26, 2016 interim disciplinary order (the interim order) under which the New York authorities temporarily suspended respondent, required her to answer the verified petition, and appointed a special master for the disciplinary proceeding.

         In an August 31, 2016 answer filed by her attorney, Chris McDonough, Esq., respondent admitted virtually all of the relevant facts contained in the verified petition, as follows.

         CHARGES ONE THROUGH THREE

         The August West Development, LLC Transactions

         August West Development, LLC (August West), through its principal, Eli Mashieh, was the buyer in three separate real estate transactions in which respondent was attorney for the seller. Mashieh gave respondent down payments totaling $9, 500 for the transactions. Respondent failed to maintain the funds entrusted to her.

         Specifically, on April 29, 2013, in connection with a real estate transaction for property in Brooklyn, New York, respondent deposited $2, 000 belonging to Mashieh and August West into her attorney business account at Citibank (Citibank ABA). The $2, 000 should have been deposited into her attorney escrow account. Two days later, the balance in the Citibank ABA had decreased to $ 1, 661.18.

         On July 24, 2013, respondent deposited a $4, 500 down payment check from Mashieh into the Wallkill AEA, in connection with a Bronx, New York real estate transaction. At the end of July 2013, only one week later, the balance in the Wallkill AEA was $501.47, well below the amount respondent was required to hold on account of the matter.

         On August 12, 2013, respondent deposited a $3, 000 down payment from Mashieh into the Wallkill AEA, in anticipation of settlement of a real estate transaction concerning property in Richmond Hill, New York. By the end of August 2013, respondent was entrusted with August West funds totaling $7, 500, yet the balance in the Wallkill AEA had fallen to $5, 813.93.

         The verified petition alleged that, in the above three real estate transactions, respondent misappropriated client funds, in violation of New York RPC 1.15(a).

         CHARGE FOUR

         The Hollis, New York Transaction

         In September 2012, as attorney for the sellers, respondent accepted a $10, 000 deposit from Adnan Matin for the purchase of real estate in Hollis, New York.

         After Matin filed an ethics complaint, respondent failed to comply with New York ethics authorities' requests that she identify and document the account into which the funds had been deposited.

         In this instance, respondent's answer admitted that, by reason of the foregoing, she failed to account for and/or failed to safeguard client funds, in violation of New York RPC 1.15(a) and RPC 1.15(c)(3).

         CHARGE FIVE

         The Wappinger Falls, New York Transaction

         On August 12, 2013, respondent deposited $9, 000 into the Wallkill AEA, representing the buyer's deposit for the bank-owned "short sale" purchase of property in Wappinger Falls, New York. Anthony DeFazio, Esq. represented the buyer, Daniel McNamara. The balance in the Wallkill AEA, at the end of August 2013, was $5, 813.93, well below the amount required to be held on account of the transaction.

         In late November or early December 2013, the bank canceled the sale, prompting DeFazio to request the return of the $9, 000 down payment. Respondent repaid the funds on March 6, 2014, by cashier's check from a Wallkill account other than the AEA.

         The verified petition alleged that respondent misappropriated client funds, in violation of New York RPC 1.15(a).

         CHARGE SIX

         The Monroe, New York Transaction

         On July 2, 2013, respondent deposited $9, 100 into the Wallkill AEA, representing Ashley Wilson's down payment for the purchase of property in Monroe, New York. The settlement did not take place because Wilson was unable to procure mortgage financing.

         According to the verified petition, Wilson's attorney, Carol R. Mark, made several requests of respondent for the return of the deposit, a claim that respondent denied in her answer.

         According to the interim order, by the end of July 2013, respondent had permitted the balance in the Wallkill AEA to fall to $501.47, well below the $9, 100 required to be held on account of the Monroe, New York transaction. Nine months later, on April 4, 2014, respondent repaid the funds by cashier's check from another Wallkill account.

         The verified petition alleged that respondent misappropriated client funds, in violation of New York RPC 1.15(a).

         CHARGE ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.