||The Respondent, an Associate in a firm, accepted from a client a $500 check payable to her for fees due her employer, negotiated the check, and personally utilized the proceeds. Over a year later the employer learned of the payment and demanded the funds and an accounting from the Respondent. The Respondent made restitution in cash and after several requests from her employer provided an explanation that she felt that her use of the $500 was in partial reimbursement for some previously undisclosed out-of-pocket expenses she had incurred years earlier when the firm had leased her an automobile. In three other instances the Respondent failed to timely turn over to the firm cash fees she had received when out of the office. The managing partner of the firm reported the matter to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel under the provisions of Rule of Professional Conduct (“RPC”) 8.3.
The Respondent stipulated to both dishonest conduct in violation of RPC 8.4(c) for converting to her own use the funds from the $500 check and to violations of RPC 1.15(b) for her failure to timely account for and pay over the $500 and the cash fees in the three other instances. The Hearing Committee found the Respondent’s explanation credible as to the car lease and the use of the $500 and recommended a Private Reprimand. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel excepted to the recommendation of the Hearing Committee for a Private Reprimand. The Disciplinary Board recommended a suspension of three months and also found the Respondent’s explanation incredible that the use of the funds was related to the previous car lease. A Petition for Review, filed by the Respondent, and response were considered and the Court, one Justice dissenting, imposed the suspension by a per curiam order.