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In re Hamburg

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

June 20, 2018

In the Matter of Steven D. Hamburg, an attorney and counselor-at-law. Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District, petitioner; Steven D. Hamburg, respondent. (Attorney Registration No. 2042984)

         D55627 C/htr

         JOINT MOTION pursuant to 22 NYCRR 1240.8(a)(5) by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District and the respondent, Steven D. Hamburg, for discipline by consent. The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department on February 3, 1986.

          ALAN D. SCHEINKMAN, P.J. WILLIAM F. MASTRO REINALDO E. RIVERA MARK C. DILLON ROBERT J. MILLER, JJ.

          Catherine A. Sheridan, Hauppauge, NY (Michael Fuchs of counsel), for petitioner.

          Richard E. Grayson, White Plains, NY, for respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER

          PER CURIAM.

         The Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District served the respondent with a notice of petition dated July 24, 2017, and a petition dated July 10, 2017, and the respondent filed an answer dated September 6, 2017. The Grievance Committee and the respondent now jointly move, pursuant to 22 NYCRR 1240.8(a)(5), for discipline by consent, and request the imposition of a suspension from the practice of law for a period of 18 months. In support of the motion, the parties have submitted a joint affirmation, which includes, inter alia, a stipulation of facts, and, as provided for in 22 NYCRR 1240.8(a)(5)(ii), an affidavit from the respondent dated December 1, 2017, in which he admits that he misappropriated funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary in three real estate transactions, in violation of rule 1.15(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), as follows:

         At all times hereinafter mentioned, the respondent maintained an attorney escrow account (hereinafter the trust account) and an operating account (hereinafter the operating account) at Chase Bank.

         The Tarpley Sale

         In or about 2010, the respondent represented Beryl Leary, the executor of the estate of Pauline Tarpley, in the sale of real property located in Jamaica, Queens (hereinafter the Tarpley property). The purchasers were Jane Baksh and Sheik Ali. Tarpley previously executed a living trust and a pour-over will, both dated October 9, 2004, providing, in relevant part, that the proceeds of the sale of the Tarpley property were to be divided evenly between Leary and Ronaldlee Armwood. In connection with the sale of the Tarpley property, the respondent received a contract deposit of $17, 100, which he deposited into the trust account on December 15, 2010.

         At the closing on January 27, 2011, the respondent received sale proceeds totaling $129, 098.78, which he deposited into the trust account on January 28, 2011. Thus, the respondent had received a total of $146, 198.78 for the sale of the Tarpley property. The respondent issued five trust account checks totaling $114, 275.41 in connection with the sale of the Tarpley property, all of which cleared the trust account by April 28, 2011. After these disbursements, the respondent agreed to retain $31, 923.37 in the trust account pending resolution of a claim by Armwood or his estate against the property.

         As of September 30, 2016, the Armwood claim had not been resolved. The respondent admits that the balance in the trust account was less than $31, 923.37, the amount that he was required to maintain, on multiple dates between November 9, 2011, and September 30, 2016, reaching a low of $4.09 during that period.

         In or about October 2015, the respondent withdrew funds from his individual retirement account, and sent a cashier's check dated October 22, 2015, in the sum of $15, 961.69 to Leary. That sum represented 50% of the funds entrusted to the respondent for the sale of the Tarpley property. As to the other interested party, Armwood, the respondent states that once he obtains Armwood's death certificate, he intends to file a petition with the Surrogate's Court, so that the remaining funds can be released to the appropriate party.

         The ...


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