||According to the Report and Recommendations of the Disciplinary Board, Respondent failed to promptly turn over to his law firm funds belonging to the firm. In particular, Respondent settled a case without advising his firm that the case had settled and without promptly paying to the firm its portion of the attorney’s fee in the case. Rather than depositing the settlement check into the firm’s escrow account, Respondent deposited the check into an account in his name, distributed the client’s portion of the settlement to the client and retained the entire $3,000.00 attorney’s fee. Respondent closed the client’s file and left the firm without advising anyone at the firm of the settlement.
The Board also found that Respondent made a series of misrepresentations in letters to his firm. The Board noted that Respondent’s conduct “showed a significant lack of judgment” deserving suspension, but the Board did not “perceive that Respondent is so unfit that he must petition for reinstatement to prove his fitness subsequent to his suspension.” The Board found that Respondent did not “pose a threat to clients or the general public,” showed remorse, made restitution with interest, cooperated with Disciplinary Counsel and requested a voluntary transfer to inactive status.
The Disciplinary Board recommended that Respondent be suspended for six months retroactive to July 1, 2003, the date on which he was voluntarily transferred to inactive status. Two members of the Hearing Committee had recommended a prospective suspension of one year and one day. One member of the Hearing Committed dissented and had recommended a prospective six month suspension.
By Order dated July 8, 2004, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania suspended Respondent for a period of one year retroactive to July 1, 2003.
On August 12, 2004, on certification by the Disciplinary Board that Mr. Staropoli had filed a verified statement of compliance showing compliance with all the terms and conditions of the Order of Suspension and Pa.R.D.E. 217, and there being no other outstanding order of suspension or disbarment, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reinstated Mr. Staropoli to active status effective immediately.