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In re Ravelo

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

June 28, 2018

In the Matter of Keila D. Ravelo, an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Keila D. Ravelo, Respondent.

         Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Kaila D. Ravelo, 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 July 20, 1992.

          Jorge Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New York (Raymond Vallejo, of counsel), for petitioner.

          Respondent pro se.

          John W. Sweeny, Jr., Justice Presiding, Dianne T. Renwick, Angela M. Mazzarelli, Ellen Gesmer, Anil C. Singh, Justices.

          PER CURIAM.

         Respondent Keila D. Ravelo was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on July 20, 1992. At all times relevant to this proceeding, respondent maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Department.

         In 2017, respondent was convicted, upon her plea of guilty, in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 USC §§ 1343 and 1349, and tax evasion in violation of 26 USC § 7201. Respondent is scheduled to be sentenced on.

         Respondent's conviction stemmed from her involvement in a conspiracy with her husband by which she defrauded two law firms (where she was employed as a partner) along with a client of approximately $7.8 million by submitting false invoices for litigation support services purportedly rendered by two entities formed by respondent and her husband.

         Now, the Attorney Grievance Committee (Committee) seeks an order striking respondent's name from the roll of attorneys, pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(4)(a) and (b) and the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) § 1240.12(c)(1), on the grounds that she was convicted of a felony as defined by Judiciary Law § 90(4)(e), namely, conspiracy to commit wire fraud (18 USC §§ 1343 and 1349), and has therefore been automatically disbarred.

         The Committee served respondent with its motion by mail, on consent, but she has not submitted a response.

         The Committee's motion to strike respondent's name from the roll of attorneys should be granted.

         Judiciary Law § 90(4)(a) authorizes automatic disbarment of an attorney convicted of a felony. Under this statute, a "felony" includes "any criminal offense classified as a felony under the laws of this state or any criminal offense committed in any other state, district, or territory of the United States and classified as a felony therein which if committed within this state, would constitute a felony in this state" (Judiciary Law § 90[4][e]). Thus, a federal felony conviction will result in automatic disbarment if an equivalent felony exists under New York law (Matter of Rosenthal, 64 A.D.3d 16, 18 [1st Dept 2009]).

         For a determination that a federal felony has a New York analogy, the federal felony does not have to be a "mirror image" of a New York felony but must be "essentially similar" (Matter of Margiotta, 60 N.Y.2d 147, 150 [1983]). Thus, we must compare the applicable federal and state felony statutes, as well as look to our own precedent on this issue. If this initial analysis is inconclusive, "essential similarity" can be established by admissions made under oath during a plea allocution, read in conjunction with the indictment or information (see Matter of Adams, 114 A.D.3d 1, 2-3 [1st Dept 2013]; Matter of Lin, 110 A.D.3d 186, 187 [1st Dept 2013]; Matter of Sorin, 47 A.D.3d 1, 3 [1st Dept 2007]).

         Automatic disbarment is warranted herein because respondent's federal conviction for conspiracy to commit wire fraud under 18 USC §§ 1343 and 1349, if committed in New York, would constitute the New York felony of scheme to defraud in the first degree (Penal Law § 190.65[1][b]). Although conspiracy to commit wire fraud has no direct felony analogue under New York law (see Matter of Merker, 140 A.D.3d 1, 4 [1st Dept 2016]; Matter of Sorin, 47 A.D.3d at 3), admissions made by respondent as part of her written plea agreement and plea allocution, read in conjunction ...


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