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In re Pritikin

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

February 5, 2013

In the Matter of Bruce G. Pritikin (admitted as Bruce Gilbert Pritikin), an attorney and counselor-at-law: Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Bruce G. Pritikin, Respondent.

Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Bruce G. Pritikin, was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Second Judicial Department on January 27, 1967.

Jorge Dopico, Chief Counsel, Departmental Disciplinary Committee, New York (Jeremy S. Garber, of counsel), for petitioner.

Richard M. Maltz, for respondent.

Luis A. Gonzalez, Presiding Justice, David B. Saxe, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Nelson S. Román, Justices.

PER CURIAM

Respondent Bruce Gilbert Pritikin was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the Second Judicial Department on January 27, 1967. At all times relevant to this proceeding, he maintained a principal place of business within the First Judicial Department.

On March 29, 2011, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee (Committee) served respondent with a notice and statement of charges containing eight charges, each one alleging professional misconduct stemming from respondent's misuse of his Interest on Lawyer Account (IOLA account).

Charges one and two of the Committee's statement of charges alleges that respondent violated DR 1-102(a)(4) of the Code of Professional Responsibility (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][4]), which prohibits an attorney from engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. The Committee alleges that respondent violated this rule by depositing a client's personal and business funds into his IOLA account in order to help a client avoid the attachment of various outstanding tax liens and judgments. The Committee alleges that this rule was also violated when respondent converted the funds of another client of respondent's public accounting firm, by using that client's funds, without permission or authority, to satisfy another client's personal and business obligations.

Charge three alleges that respondent violated DR 1-102(a)(5) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][5]), which prohibits an attorney from engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. The Committee alleges that respondent violated this rule by depositing a client's personal and business funds into his IOLA account in order to help the client avoid the attachment of various outstanding tax liens and judgments.

Charges four and five allege that respondent violated DR 9-102(a) (22 NYCRR 1200.46[a]), which prohibits an attorney from misappropriating funds belonging to another. The Committee alleges that respondent violated this rule by allowing two Automatic Clearing House debits presented on the IOLA account to be dishonored for insufficient funds and by issuing a check to "cash, " which resulted in the IOLA account becoming overdrawn.

Charge six alleges that respondent violated DR 9-102(b)(1)) (22 NYCRR 1200.46[b][1]), which requires that an attorney keep his business and personal accounts separate from an IOLA account. The Committee alleges that respondent violated this rule by depositing a client's personal and business funds into respondent's IOLA account, and using the account as a personal/business account for that client, thereby failing to segregate personal and business funds from attorney escrow funds.

Charge seven alleges that respondent violated DR 9-102(e) (22 NYCRR 1200.46[e]), which prohibits an attorney from writing checks from an IOLA account payable to cash. The Committee alleges that respondent violated this rule by issuing 38 such checks from his IOLA account.

Charge eight alleges that respondent violated DR 1-102(a)(7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][7]), which prohibits an attorney from engaging in any other conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as an attorney. The Committee alleges that respondent violated this rule insofar as he engaged in the misconduct listed in charges one through seven.

On June 8, 2011, at a liability hearing before a Referee, respondent's testimony, a pre-hearing stipulation, and the testimony of Paul Comeau (Comeau) established the following. Respondent has been admitted to practice law since 1967, he's been employed as an accountant since 1970, and obtained his CPA license in 1974. Since 1996, he has been employed at his current firm, where, at the time of the hearing he was a CPA and a ...


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