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In re Reid

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

March 15, 2017

In the Matter of Trevor A. Reid, a suspended attorney: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Trevor A. Reid, Respondent.

         Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Trevor A. Reid, was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Third Judicial Department on January 17, 1979.

          Jorge Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New York (Vitaly Lipkansky, of counsel), for petitioner.

          No appearance for respondent.

          Peter Tom, Justice Presiding, Rolando T. Acosta, Rosalyn H. Richter, Karla Moskowitz, Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Justices.

          PER CURIAM

         Respondent Trevor A. Reid was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the Third Judicial Department on January 17, 1979. At all times relevant herein, respondent maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Judicial Department.

         On or about October 23, 2015, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee (now the Attorney Grievance Committee) served respondent with a notice and statement of charges alleging that he committed nine acts of professional misconduct; this was later amended to eight charges. The charges stemmed from respondent's improper use of his attorney trust account, and alleged that he misused his trust account to shield his personal funds from seizure by New York State tax authorities, commingled client funds with business and personal funds, testified falsely at an examination under oath (i.e., deposition) before the Committee, and failed to cooperate with the Committee's investigation in violation of New York Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0) rules 1.15(a), 1.15(b)(1), 8.4(c), 8.4(d), and 8.4(h).

         By order and decision entered January 14, 2016, upon motion of the Attorney Grievance Committee, this Court suspended respondent, pursuant to former 22 NYCRR 603.4(e)(1)(i), for failure to cooperate with the Committee's investigation of two complaints filed against him and a sua sponte investigation regarding his trust account (137 A.D.3d 25');">137 A.D.3d 25 [1st Dept 2016]).

         After hearings on liability and sanctions, which respondent was notified of but ignored, a Referee appointed by this Court sustained all the charges alleged against respondent. He recommended that respondent should be disbarred. The Referee predicated his recommendation upon a finding that respondent engaged in serious misconduct, disregarded the Committee's proceedings and defaulted as to the charges.

         Subsequently, a Hearing Panel heard oral argument despite respondent's nonappearance. The Hearing Panel issued its written report adopting the Referee's report in full, including his recommendation of disbarment.

         The Committee now seeks an order confirming the Hearing Panel's report in full and disbarring respondent; or in the alternative, confirming the Referee's report in full and disbarring respondent. Respondent defaulted in the proceeding below and has not submitted a response to the instant motion to disbar despite having been served.

         Initially, we note the Committee served respondent with the charges at his registered address, which is also his home address, by first class mail and certified mail return receipt requested, but he did not submit an answer. On January 12, 2016, the Committee wrote respondent advising him that he was in default under 22 NYCRR 605.12(c)(4), that any allegation or charge would, therefore, be deemed admitted, his failure to appear at the hearing could be deemed an aggravating factor which could result in his disbarment, and noted the date of the hearing. The letter was sent to respondent by email, first class mail, and certified mail return receipt requested. The Committee received back a signed return receipt with a signature that appears to be that of respondent. By letter dated January 15, 2016, the Committee again advised respondent of the date and time of the hearing and the possible consequences if he failed to appear; the letter was emailed to respondent and mailed to his registered/home address by express mail, which was delivered on January 16, 2016. By January 19, 2016 email, respondent was again advised of the date and time of the Referee hearing.

         On January 20, 2016, the Referee found that respondent had received sufficient notice of the hearing and proceeded in his absence, finding that respondent defaulted with respect to the charges, and thus they were deemed admitted. [1]

         The evidence presented at the hearing established that from at least June 2010 through March 2013 respondent misused his trust account to shield his personal funds from being seized by New York State tax authorities based on tax warrants filed against him for failure to pay unemployment tax. In addition to client funds, respondent deposited personal funds into his trust account (i.e., commingled funds) out ...


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