In the Matter of Anthony C. Donofrio, an attorney and counselor-at-law. Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District, petitioner; Anthony C. Donofrio, respondent. (Attorney Registration No. 2386456)
DISCIPLINARY proceeding instituted by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District. The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department on December 5, 1990. By Opinion and Order of the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, dated July 24, 1997, the respondent was suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year (see Matter of Donofrio, 231 A.D.2d 365). He was reinstated on October 27, 1998. By decision and order on motion of this Court dated May 12, 2010, the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District was authorized to institute and prosecute a disciplinary proceeding against the respondent based upon the acts of professional misconduct set forth in a verified petition dated February 3, 2010, and the matter was referred to the Honorable Arthur J. Cooperman, as Special Referee, to hear and report. The decision and order on motion of this Court dated May 12, 2010, also denied that branch of the motion of the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District which was for the respondent's immediate suspension. By decision and order on motion of this Court dated June 27, 2011, the respondent's motion to stay the disciplinary proceeding against him and allow a diversion of the proceeding pursuant to 22 NYCRR 691.4(m), permitting him to complete a monitoring program sponsored by a lawyers' assistance program approved by the Court, was denied.
Robert A. Green, Hauppauge, N.Y. (Elizabeth A. Grabowski of counsel), for petitioner.
McDonough & McDonough, Garden City, N.Y. (Chris McDonough of counsel), for respondent.
RANDALL T. ENG, P.J. WILLIAM F. MASTRO REINALDO E. RIVERA PETER B. SKELOS CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, JJ.
OPINION & ORDER
The Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District (hereinafter the Grievance Committee) served the respondent with a verified petition, dated February 3, 2010, containing six charges of professional misconduct. The respondent served an answer dated May 24, 2010.
At all times hereinafter mentioned, the respondent maintained two attorney escrow accounts at Commerce Bank, account No. ******4166, entitled IOLA/Law Offices of Anthony C. Donofrio PLLC (hereinafter the first escrow account), and account No. ******3634, entitled IOLA/Donofrio & Associates PC (hereinafter the second escrow account).
Charge one alleges that the respondent misappropriated client funds entrusted to him, in violation of former Code of Professional Responsibility DR 9-102(a) (22 NYCRR 1200.46[a]).
On or about March 23, 2006, the respondent deposited the sum of $85, 000 into the first escrow account, representing a portion of a personal injury settlement of his client, Michael T. Bauer. Following that deposit, the balance in the first escrow account was the sum of $85, 001.19.
From March 24, 2006, through April 21, 2006, the balance in the first escrow account fell below the sum of $85, 000, which the respondent was required to safeguard on behalf of Bauer.On or about April 24, 2006, the respondent deposited an additional sum of $21, 000 into the first escrow account, representing additional settlement funds received on behalf of Bauer.
After deducting disbursements and legal fees, Bauer was entitled to receive the sum of $69, 713 out of a total settlement of $106, 000.
From April 24, 2006, through June 16, 2006, the balance in the first escrow account fell below the sum of $69, 713, which the respondent was required to safeguard on behalf of Bauer.At all times relevant herein, no money was deposited into the second escrow account on behalf of Bauer.
On or about June 16, 2006, the respondent wired the sum of $6, 500 from the second escrow account to Bauer, as an advance to be deducted from the sum of $69, 713 he was entitled to receive. The wire transfer from the second escrow account depleted the funds of other clients which were being maintained in that account.
On June 27, 2006, the sum of $75, 000 was wired into the first escrow account. On or about June 28, 2006, the respondent wired the sum of $63, 213 from the first escrow account to the account of an attorney representing Bauer in his home state of Missouri, representing the ...