||The Respondent was convicted in both state and federal courts for his having in an approximate three year period between 1993 and 1996 improperly taken funds of twenty-six estates or individuals for which the Respondent was involved as counsel or as a court appointed guardian.
By order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania of April 24, 1997 the Respondent was placed on temporary suspension, pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Disciplinary Enforcement 214(d)(2), relative to his federal conviction and the matter was referred to the Disciplinary Board. By order of June 15, 1999 the Respondent was placed on temporary suspension relative to his state conviction and the matter was referred to the Disciplinary Board and consolidated for consideration with the federal conviction.
Criminal convictions constitute an independent basis for the imposition of discipline, pursuant to Rule 203(b)(1), Pa.R.D.E. The sole purpose of this disciplinary proceeding was to determine the appropriate degree of discipline to be imposed for the convictions. The Respondent asserted that his misconduct was caused by his desire to build up a private practice. He would take funds from guardianships as needed to pay his expenses and would not keep accurate records. The Respondent testified that when he engaged in the scheme to bill excessively to pay kickbacks to a court appointed guardian that he thought that this was the price of doing business to get a practice established.