In the Matter of Thomas F. Cusack III, admitted as Thomas Francis Cusack III, an attorney and counselor-at-law. Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District, petitioner; Thomas F. Cusack III, respondent. (Attorney Registration No. 2430171)
Robert A. Green, Hauppauge, N.Y. (Mitchell T. Borkowsky of counsel) for petitioner.
Edwin J. Mulhern, Carle Place, N.Y., for respondent.
WILLIAM F. MASTRO, A.P.J., PETER B. SKELOS, DANIEL D. ANGIOLILLO, ANITA R. FLORIO, JOHN M. LEVENTHAL, JJ.
OPINION & ORDER
DISCIPLINARY proceeding instituted by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District. By decision and order on application dated December 24, 2009, this Court authorized the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District to institute and prosecute a disciplinary proceeding in this Court against Thomas F. Cusack III, admitted as Thomas Francis Cusack III, based upon the acts of professional misconduct set forth in a verified petition dated June 17, 2009; the respondent was directed to serve an answer to the petition; and the issues were referred to John P. Clarke, Esq., as Special Referee, to hear and report. The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department on November 13, 1991, under the name Thomas Francis Cusack III.
The Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District (hereinafter the Grievance Committee) served the respondent with a verified petition dated June 17, 2009, containing 10 charges of professional misconduct.
Charges One and Two emanate from a common set of factual allegations, as follows:
In or about 2000, the respondent was hired as in-house counsel by a company or companies owned or controlled by, or affiliated with, Thomas Kontogiannis and/or his family members or business associates (hereinafter collectively referred to as the Kontogiannis family).
Between in or about 2000 and in or about June 2004, the respondent worked as a salaried employee for a company or companies owned or controlled by, or affiliated with, the Kontogiannis family. During that time, the respondent continued, on a limited basis, to represent private clients and practice law unrelated to his employment by the Kontogiannis family.
At or about that time, Thomas Kontogiannis, individual members of the Kontogiannis family, and/or companies owned or controlled by, or affiliated with, the Kontogiannis family, were the owners of record of various parcels of real property.
During this period, the respondent maintained an attorney escrow account at Astoria Federal Savings Bank denominated "Thomas F. Cusack, Mortgage Closing Account, Attorney Trust Account, " bearing account number 8310341634 (hereinafter the Astoria Federal escrow account).
Between in or about 2000 and in or about March 2004, the respondent utilized the Astoria Federal escrow account to deposit and disburse funds entrusted to him in real estate and/or mortgage loan transactions in which he represented lenders providing mortgage financing.
At all relevant times, members of the Kontogiannis family, including John T. Michael, a non-attorney and relative of Thomas Kontogiannis, owned and/or operated two mortgage companies, CIP Mortgage and Coastal Capital Corp., which originated and/or provided first and second mortgage loans to borrowers.
Between in or about 2003 and in or about March 2004, the respondent was appointed by the Kontogiannis family, Coastal Capital Corp., CIP Mortgage, or some other company owned or controlled by, or affiliated with, the Kontogiannis family, to represent the interests of Coastal Capital Corp. and/or CIP ...