In The Matter Of William John Bowe An Attorney At Law
Argued: October 18, 2018
Docket No. XIV-2016-0291E
Hillary K. Horton appeared on behalf of the Office of
A. Weir, Jr. appeared on behalf of respondent.
A. Brodsky Chief Counsel.
C. Frost, Chair Judge.
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on a recommendation for a six-month
suspension filed by the District IX Ethics Committee (DEC).
The two-count complaint charged respondent with violations of
RPC 1.15(a) (failure to safeguard funds -
commingling personal and client funds), RPC 1.15(d)
(recordkeeping violations), RPC 5.5(a) (unauthorized
practice of law), RPC 8.4(b) (criminal act that
reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty,
trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer),  RPC
8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or
misrepresentation),  and RPC 8.4(d) (conduct
prejudicial to the administration of justice).
reasons expressed below, we determine that respondent not be
permitted to appear pro hac vice in any New Jersey
matters, until further Order of the Court and, should he
apply for readmission, his readmission is to be withheld for
a period of one year. We further determine to require the OAE
to refer respondent's conduct to Illinois disciplinary
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1984. He has no history
of discipline. However, respondent's license was
administratively revoked, on August 18, 2014, pursuant to R.
1:28-2(c), based on his failure to pay his annual attorney
registration fee for seven consecutive years. Although
respondent was admitted to practice in Illinois in 1982,
according to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary
Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois' website,
respondent is not authorized to practice, based on his
failure to demonstrate "required MCLE compliance."
The website further indicates "Last Registered Year:
stipulated facts and testimony at the DEC hearing establish
that respondent's failure to pay the annual assessment to
the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection (Fund)
for seven consecutive years and to report his change of
address to the OAE or to the Fund, resulted in the
Court's Order administratively revoking his license to
practice law. Respondent asserted that he was unaware of the
revocation. However, even after the OAE provided him with
notice of it, he continued to practice law for several
of background, at the time of the DEC hearing, respondent was
sixty-five years old. Prior to becoming an attorney, he was a
civil engineer. He began his legal career in Chicago, as
in-house counsel for an engineering firm. Thereafter, he
worked for two large corporations before joining the law firm
of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, where he was employed for
ten years. Subsequently, he and two other attorneys from that
firm formed the law firm of Bowe, Caruso & Epstein, which
dissolved in 2000. From approximately 2003 to early 2007,
respondent practiced law at a firm located at Two Bridge
Avenue, Red Bank, New Jersey, and registered that address
with the Fund. After working in two other firms, including
the firm of Bowe & Fernicola, also in Red Bank,
respondent began working as a solo practitioner in April
2008. Respondent failed to notify the Fund or the OAE of his
new address as PL 1:20-1(c) requires.
relevant time, respondent maintained trust and business
accounts at Bank of America. On May 6, 2016, the bank
notified the OAE of an overdraft in respondent's trust
account. Thereafter, by letter dated May 11, 2016, the OAE
directed respondent to provide a written explanation for the
overdraft. The letter further notified him that, on August
18, 2014, his license to practice law had been
25, 2016, respondent submitted a reply to the OAE.
Thereafter, on June 23, 2016, the OAE conducted a demand
interview/audit of respondent's books and records, which
revealed the following recordkeeping violations: (1) failure
to perform three-way trust account reconciliations; (2)
failure to maintain bank account cash receipts and
disbursements journals; (3) inactive balances in the trust
account; (4) personal funds relating to his mother's
estate commingled with trust account funds; and (5) failure
to maintain a client ledger card identifying attorney funds
designated for bank charges; violations of RPC 1.15(a), RPC
1.15(d), and R, 1:21-6.
asserted that, after he left the Bowe & Fernicola firm,
he thought he had so informed the Fund, but
"obviously" had not done so because he did not
receive any further communications from the Fund. He
maintained that all of the Fund's notices had been sent
to his prior law firm address.
stipulated that he did not file his annual attorney
registration statements or pay his annual assessment to the
Fund from 2008 to 2014. He asserted that he recalled filling
out the attorney registration documents after his office
address changed and thought that his business manager had
mailed in the forms, "[b]ut, obviously,"
unbeknownst to him, that had not occurred. When asked whether
he realized that, "at some point," he had not paid
his fee or taken required continuing legal education courses,
he replied, "I completely suppressed it. Did I know? I
guess yes, subconsciously. But consciously I just suppressed
it and pushed forward."
maintained that, from 2008 through 2013, he suffered a
financial setback. Specifically, his house went into
foreclosure and he was struggling financially to keep his
house and maintain a staff, whom he ultimately dismissed. He
ignored notices from the Fund, from the Internal Revenue
Service, and from his mortgage company. As a result of his
problems, he began drinking excessively. In 2013 and 2014, he
sought counseling to address his depression.
to the stipulation, in May 2014, the Fund notified respondent
that he had been on the ineligible list since 2008 and that,
if he did not rectify his ineligibility, his license to
practice law would be administratively revoked. Respondent
did not file the registration forms or pay his cumulative
assessments before the August 22, 2014 deadline. Therefore,
on August 18, 2014, the Court entered an Order, effective
August 25, 2014, administratively revoking respondent's
license to practice law, a copy of which was sent to his last
known office address. The revocation also was published in
the August 25, 2014 New Jersey Law Journal.
Respondent maintained that, as a cost-cutting measure, he had
canceled all of his subscriptions and, therefore, did not
receive the New Jersey Law Journal.
noted previously, on May 11, 2016, the OAE notified
respondent that his license had been revoked. He took no
immediate action to remedy the revocation. Indeed, he
continued to practice law. At the June 23, 2016 OAE demand
audit, respondent informed the OAE that he was currently
representing two clients in commercial real estate
transactions. Respondent's bank statements and bills to
his clients confirmed that he continued to provide legal
services, even after the OAE audit. Thereafter, respondent
did not reply to the OAE's multiple calls seeking
information on the steps he planned to take to obtain the
restoration of his license.
respect of the trust account overdraft, respondent maintained
that, in 2016, he had mistakenly issued a trust account check
from the wrong subaccount, resulting in an overdraft in
another subaccount. Although he resolved the problem
immediately, his bank notified the OAE of a trust overdraft,
resulting in OAE's inquiry. Respondent ...