In the Matter of Edward N. Kiss, an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Edward N. Kiss, Respondent.
proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee
for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Edward N.
Kiss, 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 October 7, 2004.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York, (Naomi F. Goldstein, of counsel), for petitioner.
Scalise & Hamilton LLP (Deborah A. Scalise, of counsel),
Tom, Justice Presiding, David Friedman, John W. Sweeny, Jr.,
Rosalyn H. Richter, Judith J. Gische, Justices.
Edward N. Kiss was admitted to the practice of law in the
State of New York on October 7, 2004, by the Second Judicial
Department. At all times relevant to this proceeding,
respondent maintained an office for the practice of law
within the First Judicial Department.
Attorney Grievance Committee (Committee) seeks an order,
pursuant to the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22
NYCRR) § 1240.9(a)(5), immediately suspending respondent
from the practice of law until further order of this Court,
based on uncontroverted evidence that he converted and/or
misappropriated at least $27, 500 of client funds, which
constitutes professional misconduct immediately threatening
the public interest.
2016, a former client of respondent filed a complaint with
the Committee alleging that respondent converted
approximately $50, 000 of his funds. The complaint alleged
that in 2007, while incarcerated at a New York State
correctional facility, the client retained respondent to
manage payments from a family trust of which he was a
beneficiary. In October 2011, the client gave respondent
power of attorney to handle banking transactions for him,
pursuant to which respondent opened an account (POA Account),
into which trust income was deposited. The client alleged
that subsequently respondent converted $50, 000 from the POA
support of its motion, the Committee submits bank records
showing that on August 10, 2012, $7, 500 was withdrawn from
the POA account and a deposit of $7, 500 was made to
respondent's personal account, and that on July 10, 2015,
$20, 000 was withdrawn from the POA account and a $20, 000
deposit was made to respondent's personal account.
January 25, 2017, respondent, represented by counsel,
appeared for an examination under oath before the Committee.
The Committee informed respondent of his right to invoke the
Fifth Amendment and that invoking that right could lead to a
negative inference being drawn against him. When asked by the
Committee to explain the August 2012 and July 2015
transactions, respondent invoked his Fifth Amendment right
and refused to answer.
Committee additionally submits a letter, dated April 19,
2016, from respondent's office mate and attorney who had
represented the client in a criminal matter, offering a
proposed $25, 112 settlement, and apparently threatening the
client that his pursuit of litigation against respondent
might result in exposure of incriminating information.
Committee argues that the submitted documentary evidence,
coupled with the negative inferences drawn from
respondent's invocation of his Fifth Amendment right,
constitute uncontroverted evidence that respondent has
converted and/or misappropriated at least $27, 500 in client
funds, thereby engaging in professional misconduct
immediately threatening the public interest, and warranting
his interim suspension pursuant to 22 NYCRR 1240.9(a)(5).
opposition, respondent argues, inter alia, that the Committee
has not shown he has engaged in conduct immediately
threatening the public interest because the alleged
misconduct was limited to one client matter and has been
remedied by his placing $25, 112.90 in escrow.
that the submitted documentary evidence establishes that
respondent has converted and/or misappropriated at least $27,
500 in client funds, and that this conduct immediately
threatens the public interest. We note this Court has
consistently stated that an adverse inference may be drawn
from an attorney's invocation of the Fifth Amendment
privilege against self-incrimination (see Matter of