The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”), located in Boston, has entered an order disbarring a Massachusetts attorney after finding that she deposited client funds into her personal bank account and used the money for personal expenses. In the Matter of Wendy Jane Rickles, an attorney stole funds from two separate clients, and provided false information to two tribunals.
A single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”), located in Boston, Massachusetts, has entered an order indefinitely suspending of an attorney after finding that he had misused client funds. In the matter of Michael J. Fenton, an attorney was hired as counsel for the executor of an estate, including as closing attorney for the sale of the decedent’s residence. After the sale closed, the attorney received the proceeds, which were to be distributed equally to the decedent’s three sons.
A single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) of Massachusetts has entered a judgment suspending a Boston attorney, after finding that he had misappropriated client funds. In the matter of Thomas Eisenstadt, a lawyer received settlement payments on behalf of two clients in unrelated matters and kept the money for himself. He eventually paid the clients their shares, but as a result of his withholding fund, medical liens were not paid.
A single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”), has entered a judgment suspending a Boston attorney for a period of three months, after finding that he violated the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct. In the matter of Bernard Kansky, a lawyer represented three of five siblings, who were all beneficiaries of their father’s estate. The father had a retirement account for postal workers, which was not an asset of the estate, but provided that each child was entitled to an equal share of the funds in the account.
The attorney’s clients claimed that the other two children owed money to the estate, which they would likely fail to re-pay if their shares of the retirement account were distributed directly to them. In an attempt to prevent this from occurring, the attorney sent two misleading letters to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (“FRTIB”), including attaching an altered copy of a temporary restraining order. Additionally, the attorney misled a Probate and Family Court when he failed to inform a judge that the co-administratrix of the estate had opposed an ex parte motion the attorney filed with the court.
The Massachusetts Court of Appeals, located in Boston, affirmed summary judgment in favor of an attorney in a legal malpractice case. In Scanlon v. Dukess, a real estate investor sold a property in Brockton, Massachusetts and sought to purchase a replacement property in order to defer capital gains tax on the sale, which is permitted by federal statute 26 U.S.C. § 1031 and is known as a ‘1031 exchange’.
Under that statute, the investor had to identify to the IRS possible replacements within 45 days of the sale of the Brockton property and then complete the purchase within 180 days. The investor listed three properties, but only one in Taunton, which was leased by a drugstore, qualified for a 1031 exchange.
After the 45 days had passed, the investor consulted his long time attorney about the purchase of the Taunton property. The attorney advised him that he would have to assume the existing lease, but failed to inform him that the lease did not contain a condemnation clause, which would prevent the drugstore from sharing in the proceeds of an eminent domain taking. The investor purchased the property on the final day of the 180 day period.
The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) in Boston, Massachusetts has entered a judgment of disbarment of a Massachusetts attorney, who practiced law in Rhode Island without a license and misused client funds. In the matter of David R. Ardito, a lawyer had a longstanding friendship with a married couple from Rhode Island. In 2005, the wife sustained personal injuries in an auto accident and as the result of a slip and fall at a local store.
Both incidents occurred in Rhode Island, and although he was not licensed to practice law there, he offered to represent the wife, pro bono. In doing so, the attorney misrepresented his qualifications in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.16(a)(1). The wife agreed to hire the attorney, and he commenced separate actions against the other driver and the store which constituted the unauthorized practice of law contrary to Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.5(a). Two years later, he settled both cases without informing the couple. He received settlement checks and signed them on behalf of the couple without their authority, deposited the funds into his lawyers trust account, and never dispersed them to the couple.
Over the following years, the wife made repeated inquiries about the status of the cases. The lawyer falsely ensured her that the lawsuits were ongoing. Eventually, the woman became suspicious and filed a petition with the Board of Bar Overseers (“BBO”), who instituted disciplinary proceedings.