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In re Weiss

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

December 27, 2017

In the Matter of Abraham Chaim Weiss, an attorney and counselor-at-law. Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District, petitioner; Abraham Chaim Weiss, respondent. (Attorney Registration No. 4371332)

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING instituted by the Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District. By decision and order on motion of this Court dated July 6, 2016, the Grievance Committee was authorized to institute and prosecute a disciplinary proceeding against the respondent based on a verified petition dated March 17, 2016, and the issues raised were referred to the Honorable Stewart A. Rosenwasser, as Special Referee, to hear and report. By decision and order on application of this Court dated August 9, 2016, the Honorable Stewart A. Rosenwasser was relieved as Special Referee, and the issues raised were referred to the Honorable Jerome M. Becker, as Special Referee, to hear and report. The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department on July 26, 2006.

          Gary L. Casella, White Plains, NY (Antonia Cipollone of counsel), for petitioner.

          Scalise & Hamilton LLP, Scarsdale, NY (Deborah A. Scalise of counsel), for respondent.

          RANDALL T. ENG, P.J. WILLIAM F. MASTRO REINALDO E. RIVERA RUTH C. BALKIN SHERI S. ROMAN, JJ.

          OPINION & ORDER

          PER CURIAM .

         The Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District served the respondent with a verified petition dated March 17, 2016, containing eight charges of professional misconduct. After a hearing on November 15, 2016, the Special Referee issued a report sustaining all the charges. The Grievance Committee now moves to confirm the Special Referee's report and to impose such discipline upon the respondent as the Court deems just and proper. In an affirmation in response, the respondent's counsel does not contest the findings of the Special Referee and requests that the Court impose a public censure or, at most, a suspension of no more than six months.

         Charge one alleges that the respondent misappropriated funds on deposit in his attorney trust account maintained at JP Morgan Chase Bank, denominated "Abraham Weiss Attorney at Law Attorney Trust Account IOLA, " and bearing an account number ending in 9223 (hereinafter trust account), incident to his practice of law, and ultimately converted the funds to his own use, in violation of rule 1.15(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), as follows:

         On June 25, 2014, the respondent deposited $10, 000 into his trust account, which represented Yehuda Turner's down payment in the purchase of property from the respondent's client, Michael Herzog. The closing on the Turner/Herzog transaction occurred on September 29, 2014. On June 27, 2014, the respondent disbursed trust account check no. 1046, in the sum of $4, 000, payable to "Rimon Naturals." This disbursement was an unauthorized and undocumented loan by the respondent to his friend Chaim Rosenberg. After check no. 1046 was negotiated, the balance in respondent's trust account was $6, 009.60, which is below the $10, 000 he was required to maintain for the Turner/Herzog transaction. Rosenberg repaid the loan on July 7, 2014, by delivering a $4, 000 check to the respondent, drawn against an account entitled "Zichron Menachem, Inc." On July 11, 2014, the respondent deposited the $4, 000 check received from Rosenberg into his personal account at JP Morgan Chase Bank.

         Charge two alleges that the respondent misappropriated funds on deposit in the trust account incident to his practice of law, in violation of rule 1.15(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), as follows:

         On July 24, 2014, the respondent deposited $45, 000 into the trust account, which he received from his client Shaye Braun in connection with Braun's anticipated purchase of property from Emanuel Horowitz. On July 29, 2014, before the Braun/Horowitz transaction closed, the respondent disbursed trust account check no. 1007, in the sum of $4, 000, payable to "Tami Foods." This disbursement represented an unauthorized and undocumented loan by the respondent to Rosenberg. After check no. 1007 was negotiated, the balance in respondent's trust account was $47, 009.50, which is below the $55, 000 he was required to maintain for the Turner/Herzog and Braun/Horowitz transactions.

         Charge three alleges that the respondent misappropriated funds on deposit in the trust account incident to his practice of law, in violation of rule 1.15(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), as follows:

         On September 8, 2014, the respondent deposited $30, 000 into the trust account, which represented the down payment of Solomon Brecher and Esther Brecher for their purchase of property from the respondent's clients, Chaim Rosenberg and Goldy Rosenberg. On October 24, 2014, before the Brecher/Rosenberg transaction closed, the respondent disbursed trust account check no. 1051, in the sum of $5, 000, payable to "Tami Foods." This disbursement represented an undocumented loan by the respondent to Chaim Rosenberg. The respondent did not obtain the Brechers' authorization to release a portion of their down payment to Chaim Rosenberg prior to the closing on the transaction. After check no. 1051 was negotiated, the balance in the respondent's trust account was $23, 696.04, which is below the $30, 000 he was required to maintain for the Brecher/Rosenberg transaction.

         Charge four alleges that the respondent misappropriated funds on deposit in the trust account incident to his practice of law, in violation of rule 1.15(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), as follows:

         At the closing on the Brecher/Rosenberg transaction on January 26, 2015, the respondent disbursed five checks, totaling $21, 959.82, against the trust account. Between January 30, 2015, and March 24, 2015, four of the five checks, totaling $19, 872.35, were presented for payment and honored against the trust account, leaving the respondent with the obligation to maintain a minimum balance of $2, 087.47 in the trust account for the Brecher/Rosenberg transaction. On April 1, 2015, the fifth check, no. 1052, in the sum of $2, 087.47, was presented for payment against the trust account, but it was dishonored as the balance in the account was $1, 163.23. Charge five alleges that the respondent commingled ...


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