Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 31480
Attorney Name Gniewek, David Allen
DBP Docket No. 171 DB 2008
Supreme Court Docket No. 1462 DD No. 3
County Out of State
Disciplinary Counsel J. Frank Dougherty
Counsel for Respondent None
Decision Date 2009-04-21
Effective Date 2009-05-21
Case Digest Decedent died in 2005, with real estate subject to a Revocable Living Trust. Respondent was retained to represent a sister of the decedent in the administration of the Estate and the Trust. The client was to receive the equitable benefit of $50,000 from the Estate to be paid through the decedentís five children, who where to then share equally in the residue of the Estate. In the Fall of 2006, the Respondent received about $112,000 from the sale of the real estate, distributed $40,000 to the children, and paid most of the PA Transfer Inheritance Tax due, with the final distributions to be determined after resolution of any tax issues. In April 2007, the Respondent misappropriated $60,000 in Estate funds to make a loan to a relative. In May 2007, the Respondent returned $30,000 of the $60,000 to his IOLTA account by the deposit of funds of he and his wife. In October 2007, all tax issues were resolved and one of the children made the final small payment due on the Inheritance Tax. Because of the Respondentís ongoing failure to respond to inquiries from his client and the heirs, a complaint was made to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in late 2007. After ODC compelled the production of records for the Respondentís IOLTA account, he borrowed sufficient funds to enable him to make full restitution to the Estate and the Trust, and then made appropriate distributions in March 2008. There were neither aggravating nor mitigating factors.
Rule Violation(s) 1.3, 1.4(a)(b), 1.15, 8.4(c)
Discipline Imposed Suspension for three years
Points of Law Misappropriation of trust funds, with related failures to proceed, account, and communicate appropriately, will generally result in at least a substantial period of suspension.
Report/Opinion Download