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In re Garcia

February 24, 2009

IN THE MATTER OF RENE G. GARCIA, AN ATTORNEY AND COUNSELOR-AT-LAW.
GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE FOR THE SECOND, ELEVENTH, AND THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICTS, PETITIONER;
v.
RENE G. GARCIA, RESPONDENT. (ATTORNEY REGISTRATION NO. 2829448)



DISCIPLINARY proceeding instituted by the Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts. The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department on August 20, 1997. By decision and order on application of this Court dated January 29, 2008, the Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts was authorized to institute and prosecute a disciplinary proceeding against the respondent and the issues raised were referred to the Honorable Jerome M. Becker, as Special Referee, to hear and report.

Per curiam.

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

A. GAIL PRUDENTI, P.J., REINALDO E. RIVERA, ROBERT A. SPOLZINO, PETER B. SKELOS and EDWARD D. CARNI, JJ.

OPINION & ORDER

The Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts (hereinafter the Grievance Committee) served the respondent with a petition, dated November 20, 2007, containing 10 charges of professional misconduct. After hearings on April 7, 2008, and April 23, 2008, the Special Referee sustained all 10 charges. The Grievance Committee now moves to confirm the Special Referee's report and impose such discipline as the Court deems appropriate. The respondent also moves to confirm the Special Referee's report, having admitted the 10 charges of the petition, and asks the Court to take mitigating evidence into account when determining the sanction.

Charge one alleges that the respondent converted to his own use funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary, incident to his practice of law, on behalf of client Maria Arevalo, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 9-102(a) (22 NYCRR 1200.46[a]) and DR 1-102(a)(4) and (7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][4], [7]).

The respondent maintained a checking account at North Fork Bank that was identified as his attorney IOLA account into which he deposited client funds and other funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary. On or about October 26, 2005, the respondent deposited the sum of $6,250 into his attorney escrow account on behalf of client Maria Arevalo as the proceeds of a personal injury settlement. On or about November 9, 2005, the respondent drew a check in the amount of $4,083.34 payable to the order of Ms. Arevalo as her share of the settlement. From approximately October 26, 2005, until approximately November 9, 2005, the respondent was required to maintain a balance of at least $4,083.34 in his attorney escrow account on her behalf. By October 28, 2005, the balance in the respondent's attorney escrow account was depleted to $253.68.

Charge two alleges that the respondent converted to his own use funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary, incident to his practice of law, on behalf of client Maribel Paz, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 9-102(a) (22 NYCRR 1200.46[a]) and DR 1-102(a)(4) and (7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][4], [7]).

On or about October 28, 2005, the respondent deposited the sum of $6,500 into his attorney escrow account on behalf of client Maribel Paz as the proceeds of a personal injury settlement. On or about November 20, 2005, the respondent drew a check in the amount of $4,226.67 from his attorney escrow account payable to Ms. Paz as her share of the settlement. From approximately October 28, 2005, until November 20, 2005, the respondent was required to maintain a balance of at least $4,226.67 in his escrow account on behalf of Ms. Paz. By November 10, 2005, the balance in the respondent's escrow account was depleted to $4,083.34.

Charge three alleges that the respondent converted to his own use funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary, incident to his practice of law, on behalf of client Ronnie Recai, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 9-102(a) (22 NYCRR 1200.46[a]) and DR 1-102(a)(4) and (7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][4], [7]).

On or about November 10, 2005, the respondent deposited a check in the amount of $3,125 into his attorney escrow account on behalf of client Ronnie Recai as the first proceeds of a personal injury settlement. On or about November 21, 2005, the respondent deposited a check in the amount of $7,500 into his attorney escrow account on behalf of Ms. Recai as the second portion of her personal injury settlement.

On or about February 1, 2006, the respondent drew a check on his attorney escrow account in the amount of $6,337.75, payable to the order of Ms. Recai as her share of that settlement. From approximately November 21, 2005, to February 1, 2006, the respondent was required to maintain a balance of at least $6,337.75 in his attorney escrow account on behalf of Ms. Recai. By December 27, 2005, the balance was depleted to $2,798.33.

Charge four alleges that the respondent converted to his own use funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary, incident to his practice of law, on behalf of client Catherine Doyle, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 9-102(a) (22 NYCRR ...


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