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In re Rosenblatt

Supreme Court of New Jersey

July 31, 2019

In the Matter of Michael J. Rosenblatt An Attorney at Law

          Argued: March 21, 2019

          District Docket No. XIV-2018-0173E

          Ellen A. Brodsky, Chief Counsel

          DECISION

          BONNIE C. FROST, CHAIR

         Amanda W. Figland appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics. Respondent did not appear, despite proper notice.

         To the Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

         This matter was before us on a motion for final discipline filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to R. 1:20-13(c)(2), following respondent's guilty plea to second-degree grand larceny, a class C felony, in violation of New York State Penal Law § 155.40(1) (Consol. 1986). These offenses constitute violations of RPC 1.15(a) and the principles set forth in In re Wilson, 81 N.J. 451 (1979), and In re Hollendonner, 102 N.J. 21 (1985) (knowing misappropriation of client or escrow funds), RPC 8.4(b) (committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects), and RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation).

         For the reasons set forth below, we determine to grant the motion and recommend respondent's disbarment for the knowing misappropriation of more than $50, 000 in trust funds.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey and New York bars in 1988. At the relevant times, he maintained an office for the practice of law in New York City.

         On November 16, 2001, following respondent's six-month suspension in the State of New York for ethics infractions equivalent to New Jersey RPC 8.4(c) and RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice), the Court imposed reciprocal discipline of a six-month suspension on him. In re Rosenblatt, 170 N.J. 36 (2001). Respondent remains suspended to date.

         Specifically, after respondent's business associate had defaulted on the final two installments of a payment plan, respondent and his father threatened the associate with physical harm if he did not make the payments. In the Matter of Michael J. Rosenblatt, DRB 00-393 (June 20, 2001) (slip op. at 2). Respondent also left the associate two threatening voice mail messages. Ibid. When the associate reported the incidents to the New York City Police Department, respondent denied having made the threats. Thereafter, and while under oath, he repeated those denials to New York state disciplinary authorities. Id., at 3.

         On January 10, 2006, respondent received a censure in New York for conduct equivalent to New Jersey RPC 8.4(b). In re Rosenblatt, 806 N.Y.S.2d 425 (N.Y.App.Div. 2006). In that case, respondent pleaded guilty, in a New York state court, to soliciting business on behalf of an attorney, an unclassified misdemeanor, and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge. Ibid. Respondent did not report the conviction or the censure to the OAE and, thus, he received no discipline in this state for that crime.

         Here, on March 25, 2016, respondent pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny, a class C felony, in violation of New York State Penal Law § 155.40(1), which states: "A person is guilty of grand larceny in the second degree when he steals property and . . . [t]he value of the property exceeds fifty thousand dollars." Respondent stole more than $50, 000 in funds that he was holding in trust for a third party, pursuant to the terms of a court order.

         On January 10, 2017, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department (New York court), disbarred respondent, nunc pro tunc to March 25, 2016, the date of his conviction of the felony, which constitutes grounds for automatic disbarment in that state. In re Rosenblatt, 68 N.Y.S.3d 884 ...


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