In the Matter of Robert S. Meloni, an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Robert S. Meloni, Respondent.
proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee
for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Robert S.
Meloni, 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 January 12, 1981.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York (Remi E. Shea, of counsel), for petitioner.
Respondent pro se.
Rosalyn H. Richter, Justice Presiding, Sallie
Manzanet-Daniels, Angela M. Mazzarelli, Karla Moskowitz, Troy
K. Webber, Justices.
Robert S. Meloni was admitted to the practice of law in the
State of New York by the First Judicial Department on January
12, 1981. At all times relevant to this proceeding, he has
maintained a law practice within the First Judicial
March 1, 2017, respondent was served with a notice and
statement of charges alleging violations of New York Rules of
Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0) rules 1.15(a),
1.15(b)(1) and (2), 1.15(e), and 8.4(h). The six charges
alleged respondent's misuse of his escrow account by
making improper cash withdrawals, commingling client funds
with business funds, failing to properly identify the special
account, and falsely certifying his compliance with rule 1.15
in his attorney biennial registration.
about April 5, 2017, respondent filed an answer and set forth
joint notice of motion dated May 8, 2017, the Attorney
Grievance Committee and respondent ask this Court to censure
respondent, pursuant to the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary
Matters (22 NYCRR) § 1240.8(a)(5), based upon the
stipulated facts and consent of the parties.
to 22 NYCRR 1240.8(a)(5)(i), the motion is supported by a
joint affirmation which contains a statement of facts,
conditional admissions, factors in mitigation, and an agreed
upon discipline, namely, public censure. Pursuant to 22 NYCRR
1240.8(a)(5)(ii), the motion is accompanied by
respondent's affidavit acknowledging his conditional
admission of stipulated facts, his consent to the agreed upon
discipline, which he has freely and voluntarily given, and
his full awareness of the consequences of such consent.
was the owner and named partner of Meloni & McCaffrey,
P.C. Thomas McCaffrey, Esq., was a partner of the firm in
name only, without an ownership interest or access to the law
firm's bank accounts. From at least August 2013 through
June 2015 (the audit period), respondent maintained an escrow
the audit period, respondent used his escrow account as his
operating account, during which time he withdrew
approximately $92, 203 in cash via ATM machines. During the
audit period, respondent owed a total of approximately $31,
398.69 in unpaid federal taxes for 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
In November 2014, the Internal Revenue Service notified him
that his taxes were past due. One of the two letters sent was
a "final notice" letter informing respondent of the
IRS's intent to file a tax lien. On or about December 3,
2014, respondent made full payment of the $31, 398.69 taxes
March 25, 2014, respondent received settlement funds in the
amount of $22, 500 into his escrow account. Two days later,
on March 27, 2014, respondent authorized a $22, 500 online
wire transfer of those funds from his escrow account on
behalf of his client. At the time that respondent held the
settlement funds, he also held business funds in his escrow
1.15 prohibits commingling of client funds by requiring an
attorney to maintain separate accounts for client funds and
business or personal funds; requires withdrawals from an
escrow account be made only to a named payee and not to cash;
and requires an escrow account to be identified as
"Attorney Special Account, " "Attorney Trust
Account" or "Attorney Escrow Account." In
September 2014, when respondent filed his biennial attorney
registration with the Office of Court Administration, he
certified that he was in compliance with rule 1.15 when he
was not. Specifically, respondent had commingled client and