In the Matter of Peter M. Napolitano, admitted as Peter Napolitano, an attorney and counselor-at-law. Attorney Registration No. 1726223
respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate
Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial
Department on May 6, 1981, under the name Peter Napolitano.
By order to show cause dated July 21, 2017, this Court
directed the respondent to show cause why an order should or
should not be made and entered pursuant to 22 NYCRR 1240.13
imposing discipline upon him for the misconduct underlying
the discipline imposed by a judgment of the Supreme Court of
Tennessee filed May 24, 2017, as set forth in an opinion of
the same court also filed May 24, 2017.
Catherine A. Sheridan, Hauppauge, NY (Robert H. Cabble of
counsel), for Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial
M. Napolitano, Clarksville, TN, respondent pro se.
RANDALL T. ENG, P.J., WILLIAM F. MASTRO, REINALDO E. RIVERA,
MARK C. DILLON, SYLVIA HINDS-RADIX, JJ.
OPINION & ORDER
judgment filed May 24, 2017, the Supreme Court of Tennessee,
as set forth in an opinion filed May 24, 2017, inter alia,
suspended the respondent's law license in that state for
five years, probated after a period of one year on certain
respondent was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 2002, and was
previously reprimanded in Tennessee for an overdraft in his
attorney trust account.
underlying facts, briefly summarized, as revealed in the
opinion of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, are as follows:
respondent's client hired him in 2005 to represent her in
an employment claim against the Department of the Army. In
September 2007, the parties settled the action for $75, 000,
and this sum was deposited into the respondent's attorney
trust account on October 16, 2007. The parties entered into
an agreement whereby the respondent agreed to remit the sum
of $40, 000 to the client and retain the sum of $35, 000 in
full satisfaction of his remaining fees and expenses. Shortly
afterwards, the respondent realized that he miscalculated his
expenses by approximately $1, 800, and asked the client to
modify the agreement and accept less than $40, 000. The
client refused, whereby the respondent refused to remit any
funds to the client.
unsuccessful efforts by the client to rescind the settlement,
the client filed a complaint (hereinafter the first
complaint) with the Tennessee Board of Professional
Responsibility (hereinafter the Board). The first complaint
ultimately was dismissed and the dismissal was upheld on
appeal in November 2010. In March 2011, the client filed a
lawsuit against the respondent to recover the money allegedly
owed her (hereinafter the fee action). The client's new
attorney deposed the respondent on September 26, 2012. During
the deposition, the respondent admitted that none of the
settlement proceeds remained in his account. The client's
new attorney filed a second complaint with the Board in
an investigation, the Board filed a petition for discipline
in November 2013.
August 2014, prior to the hearing on the petition, the client
and the respondent entered into a settlement agreement with
regard to the fee action. Pursuant to the settlement
agreement, the respondent agreed to pay the client the sum of
$18, 500 on or before August 12, 2014, followed by 10
periodic payments of $750 each.
hearing was held before a panel of the Board, at which it was
established that the respondent had falsely stated at his
deposition that he had not been the subject of a disciplinary
complaint in New York, since he had, indeed, previously been
suspended for five years in New York. It was also established
that he had falsely stated that he never filed for bankruptcy
protection, since he had filed for personal bankruptcy in
1993 and again in 2003. Further, it was established that the
respondent had falsely stated that no liens had ever been
filed against him, since the Internal Revenue Service had
filed liens against two parcels of real estate that the
respondent owned in Montgomery County, Tennessee.
regard to the litigation proceeds which were in dispute, it
was established that the respondent not only failed to keep
those funds separate, but starting in March 2009, his
attorney trust account balance fell below the sum of $22,
424.17, an amount admittedly belonging to the client. By
February 2012, the balance reached a negative figure. The
hearing panel thus found that the respondent's ...