||Brown represented a mortgagee in a refinancing by the mortgagor, who he promised to get a release from the mortgagee in exchange for paying over the amount due for the release. The refinance could not close as no release was provided. Brown had the funds due the mortgagee in his escrow account and paid that over to his client by a check drawn to cash. The mortgagor filed a complaint and Brown misrepresented to Bar Counsel and the mortgagor that a release had been prepared and sent to the mortgagee. Based on that misrepresentation, the ethics complaint was dismissed. Three years later, ethics counsel reopened the file as no release had yet been forthcoming. Brown again knowingly made misrepresentations to the mortgagor and ethics counsel. Brown was found to have violated Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct: 4.1(a)(1) (Truthfulness in Statements to Others; 8.1(a) (Bar Admission and Disciplinary Matters:; and, 8.4(c) and(d) (Misconduct) for the false statements relative to the mortgage release. He also violated Maryland Rule 16-609 by drawing a check on a trust account payable to cash. He was suspended for 90 days in Maryland.
Mitigating factors were that the Respondent had practiced for 28 years with no history of discipline, had cooperated with Bar Counsel and ultimately admitted violations, and remedied the underlying problem by obtaining the necessary release.
The court imposed a 90 day suspension. A dissent felt the misconduct warranted a 180 day suspension.
As required by the Pa. Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, Brown self-reported his Maryland suspension.