Saturday, March 12, 2016

Suspended NJ Lawyer Agrees To Disbarment As Part Of Plea Deal w/ Prosecutors Admitting He Fleeced Dead Cousin's Estate Out Of Over $75K

From the Office of the Monmouth County, New Jersey Prosecutor's Office:
  • A suspended Jersey City attorney admitted [] he misused more than $75,000 from the estate of his deceased cousin, a Sea Girt resident, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

    John Hamill, 65, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty [] to one count of second degree Misapplication of Entrusted Property. Hamill entered his guilty plea before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley. Sentencing is scheduled for June 17, 2016.

    Hamill was arrested in October 2014, after an investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office revealed he made numerous withdrawals from the estate of a cousin in Sea Girt. Hamill utilized the money for the payment of debts and personal lifestyle activities.

    As part of his plea agreement, this Office will recommend Hamill be sentenced to serve 180 days in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold Township, as a condition of any probationary period. The plea agreement also calls for restitution in the amount of $109,422. Hamill, who is currently suspended from the practice of law, has also agreed to disbarment as a part of the plea agreement.(1)
Source: Jersey City Man Admits Withdrawing Money from Estate.

See, generally, Frederick Miller, "If You Can't Trust Your Lawyer .... ?", 138 Univ. of Pennsylvania Law Rev. 785 (1990) for more on the apparent, long-standing tolerance for deceit by many in the legal profession:
  • This tolerance to deception is encouraged by the profession's institutional civility. Seldom is a fig called a fig, or a shyster a shyster. No, our euphemisms are wonderfully polite: "frivolous conduct," or a "lack of candor;" or "law-office failure;" or, heaven forbid, a "peculation," a "defalcation," or a "negative balance" in a law firms's trust account.

    There is also widespread reluctance on the part of lawyers --- again, some lawyers --- to discuss publicly, much less acknowledge, that they have colleagues who engage in deceit and unprofessional conduct.

    This reluctance is magnified when the brand of deceit involves the theft of client money and property, notwithstanding that most lawyers would agree that stealing from clients is the ultimate ethical transgression.
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(1) The New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, an entity of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, was established to reimburse clients who have suffered a loss due to dishonest conduct of a member of the New Jersey Bar.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that attempt to clean up the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

See generally:
  • N.Y. fund for cheated clients wants thieving lawyers disbarred, a July, 2015 Associated Press story on this Fund reporting that the Fund's executive director, among other things, is calling for prompt referral to the local district attorney when the disciplinary committee has uncontested evidence of theft by a lawyer injuring a client or an admission of culpability;

    When Lawyers Steal the Escrow, a June, 2005 New York Times story describing some cases of client reimbursements ("With real estate business surging and down-payment amounts rising with home prices, the temptation for a lawyer to filch money from a bulging escrow account and later repay it with other clients' money has never been greater, said lawyers who monitor the thefts."),

    Thieving Lawyers Draining Client Security Funds, a December, 1991 New York Times story that gives some-real life examples of how client security funds deal with claims and the pressures the administrators of those funds may feel when left insufficiently financed as a result of the misconduct of a handful of lawyer/scoundrels.

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