In the Matter of Gaytri D. Kachroo, (admitted as Gaytri Devi Kachroo), an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Gaytri D. Kachroo, Respondent.
proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee
for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, Gaytri D.
Kachroo, 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 February 4, 2002.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York (Yvette A. Rosario, of counsel), for petitioner.
Respondent pro se.
David Friedman, Justice Presiding, Barbara R. Kapnick Angela
M. Mazzarelli Jeffrey K. Oing Anil C. Singh, Justices.
Gaytri D. Kachroo was admitted to the practice of law in the
State of New York by the First Judicial Department on
February 4, 2002, under the name Gaytri Devi Kachroo. At all
times relevant to this proceeding, respondent maintained a
registered address in Massachusetts, where she was admitted
to practice and resides.
Attorney Grievance Committee (AGC) now seeks an order,
pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(2) and New York's
Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) §
1240.13, imposing reciprocal discipline on respondent,
predicated on an order of the Supreme Judicial Court of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts dated October 26, 2018,
accepting respondent's resignation from that state's
bar as a disciplinary sanction and ordering her name stricken
from the roll of attorneys.
Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) filed a statement
of disciplinary charges alleging that respondent had
committed various acts of professional misconduct, including
negligent (i.e., non-venal) misappropriation of client funds
and failure to maintain required escrow account records.
Specifically, the statement asserted that, between October
2012 and February 2015, respondent billed a client, a wealthy
London resident formerly married to a billionaire hedge fund
financier, over $1.4 million for respondent's non-legal
investigative services, including an investigation of the
ex-husband's alleged market abuse and other alleged
financial misconduct. The fee was excessive because the
investigation produced no benefit to the client, and
respondent billed at her regular rate of $700 per hour for
150 hours of a paralegal's work, and for respondent's
time responding to 4, 000 text messages from the client that
were not material to the representation, and which totaled
approximately $300, 000 in violation of the Massachusetts
Rules of Professional Conduct (Mass. R. Prof. C.)1.5(a)
(prohibition against charging and/or collecting an excessive
statement further averred that, between December 1, 2012 and
July 31, 2013, respondent, who periodically received retainer
payments from the client, withdrew from her escrow account
$170, 236.57 more toward the client's fees than had been
deposited, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(b) and
1.15(c) (negligent misuse of client funds). In September
2013, respondent facilitated a financial investment by the
same client in a pharmaceutical company in which respondent
was an executive and board member, but respondent failed to
disclose that a portion of the client's investment funds
might be used to pay respondent's compensation as a board
member and that respondent's representation could be
materially limited by her personal interests, constituting a
conflict of interest in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.7(b)
and 1.8(a)(l) (entering into business transaction with client
without obtaining adequate informed consent in writing from
client as to conflict of interest).
statement additionally focused on respondent's
representation, beginning in 2011, of multiple clients in
federal court litigation related to a massive Ponzi
investment scheme by Stanford International Bank, Ltd.
Respondent's fee agreements with those clients provided
for an excessive contingent fee of the awards received by the
clients (for respondent merely filing out a two-page claim
form), in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.5(a). As to some
of these clients, respondent also failed to maintain adequate
individual client ledgers, failed to credit retainers paid,
and negligently debited from her escrow account amounts in
excess of the retainers then on deposit (after the retainers
had been exhausted), thereby misusing the funds of other
clients in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(b) and
1.15(c). The statement acknowledged, however, that none of
these clients was deprived of any funds.
statement further outlined how, in 2015, respondent executed
a settlement agreement of a fee dispute with a former client
which contained an explicit provision that, as a condition of
settlement, the former client was prohibited from filing a
complaint with bar counsel. Both parties were represented by
counsel but, in executing a clause in a settlement agreement
requiring a party to refrain from filing a complaint with bar
counsel, respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(g)
(failure without good cause to cooperate with disciplinary
authorities), 8.4(h) (other conduct that adversely reflects
on fitness as a lawyer), and MA S.J.C. Rule 4:01 § 10
(improperly conditioning settlement on not filing
the statement alleged that, from December 2012 until
September 2017, respondent maintained an IOLTA account for
which she failed to keep: (1) required records, namely,
timely or contemporaneous individual client ledgers reporting
each receipt of funds, the dates thereof, and the amounts;
(2) a ledger of bank fees and charges; and (3) a prompt or
contemporaneous record in check register or clients ledgers
of receipts and disbursements on behalf of clients, which
resulted in inaccurate and unbalanced three-way
reconciliations in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C.
1.15(f)(1)(B)-(E) (failure to maintain required bookkeeping
response to the statement of charges, respondent, represented
by counsel, tendered an affidavit in which she stated that
she desired to resign from the practice of law in
Massachusetts as a disciplinary sanction for the misconduct
set forth by the BBO, waived her right to a hearing, and
agreed not to contest the facts underlying the charges, the
rule violations charged therein, nor the resulting discipline
in Massachusetts or "in any other jurisdiction."
The Massachusetts Office of Bar Counsel and the BBO
recommended that respondent's resignation be accepted
and, by order entered October 26, 2018, the Supreme Judicial
Court of Massachusetts accepted respondent's affidavit of
resignation as a disciplinary sanction and her name was
stricken from the roll of attorneys.
noted, the AGC now seeks an order, pursuant to the doctrine
of reciprocal discipline, finding that respondent has been
disciplined by a foreign jurisdiction, directing her to
demonstrate why she should not be reciprocally disbarred, or,
in the alternative, subject to a sanction this Court deems
appropriate, based on her discipline in Massachusetts.
proceeding seeking reciprocal discipline pursuant to the
Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) §
1240.13, the respondent is precluded from raising any
defenses except: (1) lack of notice or opportunity to be
heard in the foreign jurisdiction constituting a deprivation
of due process; (2) an infirmity of proof establishing the
misconduct presented to the foreign jurisdiction; or (3) that
the misconduct for which the attorney was disciplined in the
foreign jurisdiction does not constitute misconduct in this
State. There is no question that the first two prongs were
satisfied, because respondent knew about the charges and
affirmatively chose not to contest them. As for the third
prong, we find that the misconduct in Massachusetts would
constitute misconduct ...