Sunday, April 30, 2017

Indiana Supremes Apparently Apply Modified 'No Harm, No Foul' Approach In Refusing To Disbar Lawyer For Misappropriating Trust Account Funds, Then Lying About It & Submitting Falsified Records; Give Partially-Stayed 180-Day Hand-Slap Instead, Finding No Criminal Intent, No Financial Losses For Any Client, Corrective Measures Taken Upon Discovery Of Depth Of Mismanagement

In Indianapolis, Indiana, The Indiana Lawyer reports:
  • An Indianapolis attorney accused of mismanaging trust funds for both himself and other attorneys and clients has been suspended from the practice of law in Indiana for 180 days [with 90 days actively served and the remaining time stayed subject to completion of at least one year of probation, including trust account monitoring by a certified public accountant].

    According to the disciplinary order handed down Wednesday [March 29], Tarek E. Mercho of Indianapolis law firm Mercho Caughey “misappropriate funds from his attorney trust account over a period of several years, making dozens of disbursements of client funds for purely personal purposes.” On at least two occasions, Mercho disbursed funds that were held in trust for another attorney and that attorney’s client.

    After the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission began an investigation into Mercho’s conduct, the attorney made false statements to the commission and submitted a client ledger with false entries to extricate himself from the disciplinary process, the order says. Both the commission and the hearing officer found that Mercho had violated Professional Conduct Rules 1.15(a) and 8.1(a) and Admission and Discipline Rules 23(29)(a)(4)(2016) and 23(29)(1)(5)(2016) in connection with the funds mismanagement and his dishonesty during the investigation.(1)
For the story, see Supreme Court suspends attorney for mismanaging funds.
(1) According to the disciplinary order:
  • The hearing officer also appears to have credited other evidence tending to reflect the absence of criminal intent, including that no clients ultimately were denied funds or services and that Respondent took corrective measures upon discovering the depth of his trust account mismanagement.

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