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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 37880
Attorney Name Gefsky, James Barnett
DBP Docket No. 162 DB 2009
Supreme Court Docket No. 1704 DD No. 3
County Westmoreland
Disciplinary Counsel Cory John Cirelli
Counsel for Respondent None
Decision Date 2011-05-16
Effective Date 2011-06-16
Case Digest Respondent failed to hold separate from his own property funds with which he was entrusted in regard to her divorce settlement, and engaged in dishonest and deceitful conduct by converting to his own use $71,527.85 over a period in excess of one year. As to the second client, he failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of a matter, failed to promptly comply with requests for information, knowingly made false statements of fact to his client about the status of his legal matter, failed to hold that client's property separate from Respondent's own property and converted to his own use funds entrusted to him in the amount of $3,293.98. The hearing committee found that Respondent's law office was disorganized, including the management of finances as it affected his IOLTA account. The hearing committee concluded that Respondent's treatment of his clients was unacceptable, but also concluded there was no evidence of willful misappropriation of their funds. Consequently, the committee recommended a suspension of three years. Petitioner took exception to the recommendation for a three-year suspension. Although Respondent admitted to his misconduct, he did not show remorse therefor and, not only did he fail to reimburse one of the two clients, he also sought reconsideration of the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security award to that client. Respondent filed a Petition for Review of the Board's recommendation for a five-year suspension. The Supreme Court concurred with the Board's recommendation.
Rule Violation(s) 1.4(a)(3), 1.4(a)(4), 1.15(a) 1.15(b) 1.15(d) 1.15(e) 8.4(c)
Discipline Imposed Suspension for 5 years
Points of Law The Disciplinary Board concluded that Respondent's claim that his misappropriation was unintentional and due to the disorganized state of his law practice was unsupported by the evidence and, further, he did not show any evidence of remedial action taken to change the unsatisfactory operation of his practice.
Report/Opinion Download