The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”), located in Boston, has entered an order disbarring an attorney after finding that he kept client funds for his personal use. In the Matter of Daniel P. Byrnes, a lawyer was named the executor of his brother in law’s estate and facilitated the sale of the decedent’s house for a total of $395,000. The attorney deposited the sale proceeds into his Interest on Lawyer’s Trust Account (“IOLTA”), instead of opening a separate estate account for the funds.
The attorney then disbursed $240,000 to the estate’s three beneficiaries and he kept the remaining funds in his IOLTA in order to reconcile the debts and taxes of the estate. However, over the following year, the attorney failed to pay the estate’s tax obligations or make any other distributions to the beneficiaries. Instead, he converted no less than $60,000 for personal use.
At some subsequent time, the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”) initiated disciplinary proceedings against the attorney. He then submitted an affidavit of resignation, which the BBO accepted. The BBO recommended that the SJC enter an order of disbarment.
The SJC reviewed the case and found that the attorney violated Mass.R.Prof.C. Rule 8.4 (c), when he intentionally converted client funds, and Mass.R.Prof.C. Rule 1.15 (b), (c), when he failed to create a separate account for the estate’s funds. The SJC accepted the BBO’s recommendation and entered a judgment disbarring the attorney.
Decision: In re Daniel P. Byrnes