Appellate Division, First Department
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.
Rolando T. Acosta,Justice Presiding, Dianne T. Renwick Leland G. DeGrasse Helen E. Freedman Rosalyn H. Richter,Justices.
Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Stephen A. Brusch, was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the First Judicial Department on May 23, 1983.
M-2635 (August 20, 2012) IN THE MATTER OF STEPHEN A. BRUSCH, A SUSPENDED ATTORNEY
Respondent Stephen A. Brusch was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on May 23, 1983 under the name Stephen Anthony Brusch. Respondent's last business address registered with the Office of Court Administration was in the United States Virgin Islands.
By petition dated June 1, 2012, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee moved for an order, pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(2) and the Rules of the Appellate Division, First Department (22 NYCRR) § 603.3, disbarring respondent from the practice of law and striking his name from the roll of attorneys and counselors-at-law predicated upon similar discipline imposed by the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands (on March 3, 2008) or, alternatively, sanctioning respondent as this Court deems appropriate. Respondent has not appeared in this proceeding.
This case involves two separate instances where respondent misappropriated client funds. In the first incident, Julio Colon, Jr. paid respondent a retainer of $10,000 in 2002 to handle certain probate and property matters. In November 2003, Colon informed respondent that he had retained other counsel and requested an immediate refund of the unused portion of his retainer. Respondent did not respond to Colon's letter; nor to the repeated requests of Colon's new counsel for a refund of the unused retainer.
In February 2004, Colon filed a grievance with the Virgin Islands Bar Association's Ethics and Grievance Committee (EGC), which notified respondent of the Colon grievance, advised him that an adjudicatory panel had been appointed to investigate the matter, and requested that respondent submit a response. Respondent, however, failed to do so. He also failed to appear at a September 2006 hearing even though he was given notice that if he failed to appear, the panel would adjudicate the merits of the grievance and impose sanctions on a default basis. He was deemed to have admitted all factual allegations and waive his right to object to the imposition of sanctions.
Following the hearing, the panel issued a decision in which it concluded that respondent had violated Model Rules of Professional Conduct: 1.4(a)(4) (requiring prompt response to reasonable requests for information); 1.5(a)-(b) (rules governing fee agreements with clients); and 1.16(d) (attorney's obligations upon termination of representation, including the return of any unearned fee). ...