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In re LaPenta

August 25, 2009

IN THE MATTER OF PHILIP S. LAPENTA, AN ATTORNEY AND COUNSELOR-AT-LAW.
GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE FOR THE TENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, PETITIONER;
PHILIP S. LAPENTA, RESPONDENT. (ATTORNEY REGISTRATION NO. 2306801)



DISCIPLINARY proceeding instituted by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District. By decision and order on motion of this Court dated February 26, 2008, the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District was authorized to institute and prosecute a disciplinary proceeding against the respondent and the issues raised were referred to John F. Mulholland, 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., WILLIAM F. MASTRO, REINALDO E. RIVERA, ROBERT A. SPOLZINO and JOSEPH COVELLO, JJ.

OPINION & ORDER

The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department on February 21, 1973.

The Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District (hereinafter the Grievance Committee) served the respondent with a verified petition dated March 19, 2008, containing four charges of professional misconduct. After a preliminary conference and a hearing, the Special Referee sustained all four charges. The Grievance Committee now moves to confirm the Special Referee's report and impose such discipline as the Court deems just and proper. In response to the motion to confirm, the respondent has submitted affidavits and letters in mitigation, urging the Court to allow him to continue practicing law without interruption.

Charge one alleges that the respondent was found guilty of engaging in illegal conduct that adversely reflects on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(3) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][3]).

On September 8, 2005, the respondent was arrested for driving while intoxicated, in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law §§ 1192.2, 1192.3, and 1128. On November 4, 2005, the respondent pleaded guilty before the Honorable William J. Burke III, of the District Court, Suffolk County, to the crime of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192.2, an unclassified misdemeanor. On February 16, 2006, the respondent was sentenced to three years probation with alcohol and narcotic conditions, as well as a condition that he complete the drinking driver program through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. His license was revoked for a period of six months, he was fined in the sum of $500, and a surcharge in the sum of of $185 was imposed.

Charge two alleges that the respondent was found guilty of illegal conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][7]).

On February 20, 2006, the respondent was again arrested for driving while intoxicated, in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law §§ 1192.2, 1192.3, 1127.1, and 1111. On October 6, 2006, the respondent admitted before the Honorable William J. Burke III, of the District Court, Suffolk County, to violating a condition of the terms of his probation arising out of his February 20, 2006, arrest for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192.2, an unclassified misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 60 days incarceration in a "Stop DWI" Program, and made subject to an ignition interlock as a condition of probation. In addition, the respondent could not apply for driving privileges without the permission of the court or the Probation Department.

Charge three alleged that the respondent was found guilty of illegal conduct that adversely reflects on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(3) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][3]).

On May 11, 2007, the respondent pleaded guilty before the Honorable William J. Burke III, of the District Court, Suffolk County, to the crime of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192.2, an unclassified misdemeanor. On July 6, 2007, he was sentenced to three years probation with psychiatric conditions, narcotic conditions, probation alcohol treatment, and ignition interlock program if deemed necessary by probation, 280 hours of community service, a fine in the sum of $500, license revocation, and a surcharge in the sum of $185.

Charge four alleges that the respondent was found guilty of engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer, in violation of Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(7) (22 NYCRR ...


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