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In re Downing

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

November 16, 2017

In the Matter of Diana S. Downing, an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Diana S. Downing, Respondent.

         Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Diana S. Downing, 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 October 29, 1990.

          Jorge Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New York (Kevin M. Doyle, of counsel), for petitioner.

         Respondent pro se.

          John W. Sweeny, Jr., Justice Presiding, Angela M. Mazzarelli, Karla Moskowitz, Marcy L. Kahn, Ellen Gesmer, Justices.

          PER CURIAM

         Respondent Diana S. Downing was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on October 29, 1990. At all times relevant to these proceedings, the Office of Court Administration (OCA) attorney registration records has listed either a street address or a post office box address as respondent's business address, both of which are within the First Judicial Department.

         On July 1, 2010, in Supreme Court, New York County, respondent was convicted, upon her plea of guilty, of grand larceny in the third degree (Penal Law § 155.35), a class D felony, welfare fraud in the third degree (Penal Law § 158.15), a class D felony, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree (Penal Law § 175.35[1]), a class E felony, in full satisfaction of the charges pending against her.

         According to the New York County District Attorney's office, respondent, who claimed that she managed a building in Manhattan for free rent when in fact she owed the building, as well as the adjacent building, and received rental income from both buildings, was charged with receiving $38, 161.84 in public health insurance benefits between 2005 and 2008.

         On August 12, 2010, respondent was sentenced to five years probation on each count to run concurrently and a $5, 000 fine, which she paid that day. At sentencing, respondent advised the court that she had already made restitution in the amount of $18, 104, which included interest.

         On May 3, 2011, upon respondent's application, her July 1, 2010 plea and August 12, 2010 sentence were vacated. She then re-entered the same guilty pleas and was resentenced to a conditional discharge so she could spend time with her child outside the country.

         Notwithstanding the requirement of self-reporting within 30 days of conviction under Judiciary Law § 90(4)(c), respondent never advised this Court of her conviction. Quite by happenstance, the Attorney Grievance Committee learned about the conviction in 2016.

         The Committee now seeks an order, pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(4)(b) and The Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) § 1240.12(c)(1), striking respondent's name from the roll of attorneys on the ground that she was automatically disbarred as of the date of her conviction of a felony (see Judiciary Law § 90[4][a]), as defined by Judiciary Law § 90(4)(e).

         Respondent was served with this motion by mailing a copy to the post office box address which she has listed with OCA, via first class mail and certified mail return receipt requested, and by email, pursuant to our unpublished order of July 20, 2017 which granted the Committee's application to serve respondent by substituted service. Respondent has not submitted any papers.

         Respondent's conviction of New York felonies is a basis for automatic disbarment pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(4)(a) and (b). ...


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