||During a period commencing no later than May 1994 and continuing until at least January 1997, Respondent engaged in a pattern of misconduct with respect to financial transactions involving client and third-party funds in which he failed to maintain in trust sufficient funds to cover all of his obligations to clients and third parties and utilized fiduciary funds for his own benefit. Respondentís conduct was extensive in duration and in the amount of money involved. At different points in time, Respondentís escrow accounts were out of trust in amounts in excess of $10,000.00. At the high point, Respondent was out of trust in the amount of $43,661.72.
From October 1997 through July 1999, there were no irregularities in Respondentís escrow account and the account was in balance. After Respondent was advised by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of its investigation, Respondent made a good faith effort to cooperate with Disciplinary Counsel. In his Answer to the Petition for Discipline, Respondent admitted the factual allegations set forth in the Petition and averred that his drug and alcohol addiction was the primary factor causing his misconduct. Respondent admitted that he had engaged in serious misconduct and entered into extensive stipulations.
Respondent established that at the time of his misconduct he suffered from an addiction to cocaine. He presented the testimony of his treating psychiatrist who testified to the causal connection between Respondentís drug addiction and Respondentís misconduct. The psychiatrist testified that Respondent was clean and sober and that Respondentís progress and prognosis were excellent. By Report and Recommendation dated October 12, 2000, the Disciplinary Board found that Respondent was entitled to mitigation under Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Braun, 520 Pa. 157, 553 A.2d 894 (1989). The Disciplinary Board also found that Respondentís misconduct was very serious and absent mitigation would have called for a lengthy suspension or disbarment. In light of Respondentís entitlement to Braun mitigation, his significant progress in dealing with his addiction, his cooperation with Disciplinary Counsel and his lack of a prior disciplinary record, the Disciplinary Board recommended that Respondent receive a suspension of four years, to be stayed in its entirety and be placed on probation, consisting of both sobriety and practice monitors, for four years.
By Order dated December 14, 2000, the Supreme Court suspended Respondent for four years, stayed the suspension in its entirety and placed Respondent on probation for four years subject to numerous conditions including the imposition of both a sobriety and a practice monitor. Messrs. Justice Cappy, Castille and Nigro dissented without comment.