Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 18046
Attorney Name Wiener, Eric Jeffery
DBP Docket No. 2 DB 1999
Supreme Court Docket No. 477 D.D. No. 3
County Dauphin
Disciplinary Counsel Frank Dougherty
Counsel for Respondent James C. Schwartzman
Decision Date 2003-02-28
Effective Date 2003-03-28
Case Digest By order of January 12, 1999 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania placed the Respondent on temporary suspension from the practice of law as a result of his federal conviction of two counts of wire fraud. The matter was referred to the Disciplinary Board to determine the discipline warranted by the conviction. The conviction related to the Respondent in 1994 having purchased for $26,500 a Canadian titled Jeep through a car dealership of which he was a part owner. Some similar vehicles sold by the same seller were found to be stolen and the Respondent determined from both the sellerís insurer and the insurer for the dealership that there was no coverage if the Respondentís vehicle was stolen. The Respondent advertised the vehicle in out-of-town media. A buyer was told the vehicle was being sold as it was not large enough for the Respondentís needs. After the sale the Respondent advised the dealership insurer that the matter of the insurance on the subject vehicle had been resolved. After the vehicle was seized by the police the Respondent asked the buyerís counsel for time to resolve the matter with claims to the insurance companies. A demand to refund the purchase price was refused until after the Respondent was interviewed by the FBI. The Respondentís offense level was increased by 2 upon the trial court determining that the Respondent had intentionally given false testimony on a material matter. The false testimony was the Respondentís contending the reasons for selling the Jeep were that prices were declining at auction on similar vehicles and that he needed a larger vehicle for towing when the true reasons for selling were that the Respondent wanted to avoid a loss because the vehicle was stolen and because he had determined that there was no insurance coverage for such a loss. In the disciplinary proceedings the Respondent acknowledged that the primary reasons he wanted to sell the Jeep were because he was fearful that it was stolen and that he did not want to loose the $26,500 that he had paid for it. He also acknowledged that his failure to make more timely restitution to the buyer was caused by greed. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel recommended a five year suspension and the Respondent a three year suspension. The Disciplinary Board recommended a four year suspension and neither party filed exceptions.
Rule Violation(s) Pa.R.D.E. 203(b)(1); RPC 8.4(b)(c)(d)
Discipline Imposed Five Year Suspension retroactive to 1-12-99 (Per Curiam Order; no opinion)
Points of Law The Board determined that the Respondentís false testimony at his trial was a substantial aggravating factor in determining the discipline appropriate for the criminal conviction.
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