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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 17652
Attorney Name Rydzewski, Joseph Robert
DBP Docket No. 158 DB 1996 and 105 DB 1998
Supreme Court Docket No. 287 DD No. 3
County Lackawanna
Disciplinary Counsel Edwin W. Frese, Jr.
Counsel for Respondent Samuel C. Stretton
Decision Date 2004-03-30
Effective Date 2004-03-30
Case Digest This is a reinstatement from a Disbarment on Consent Order of February 24, 1999, retroactive to December 18, 1996. The disbarment was based upon Respondentís misappropriation of about $157,000, of which about $63,000 was from various clients, by submitting false expense reimbursement requests to his firm. He made restitution and pleaded guilty in state court to theft and in federal court to mail fraud, and served time in both a county and federal prison. He took the money because he believed he was underpaid by his firm where he was the rainmaker. Even before his convictions, he sought psychiatric counseling, which continued throughout the time of his disbarment. While disbarred, he worked full-time as a paralegal for a sole-practitioner and continued doing various voluntary community service activities. He presented the testimony of nine character witnesses, all of who urged his reinstatement. He expressed sincere remorse for the disgrace he brought to the profession, his family, and himself. Disciplinary Counsel had no evidence to introduce in opposition to the reinstatement and, therefore, did not oppose.
Rule Violation(s) None
Discipline Imposed Reinstated
Points of Law An attorney who is disbarred for conversion of law firm and client funds can be reinstated after about seven years where he complied with all the terms and conditions of the disbarment, maintained his learning in the law by working full-time as a paralegal and taking the required CLE credits, maintained a good reputation for truth and honesty in his community despite his convictions for theft and mail fraud, sought psychiatric counseling to help him understand and cope with his misconduct, continued community service, and expressed sincere remorse.
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