Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 16436
Attorney Name Zeigler, Daniel F.
DBP Docket No. 49 DB 2005
Supreme Court Docket No. 1143 DD No. 3
County Carbon
Disciplinary Counsel John Francis Dougherty
Counsel for Respondent None
Decision Date 2006-06-14
Effective Date 2006-07-14
Case Digest The Respondent failed to respond appropriately to the PA Lawyers Fund for Client Security when the Fund contacted him about having received notice of an overdraft on his IOLTA trust account related to a check for approximately $2,500. The Fund then referred the matter to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. It was determined that the overdraft was related to the Respondentís having commingled $30,584.73 in estate funds in his office account, his having improperly personally used $14,354.62 of those funds in payments which included for personal taxes, a daughterís college expenses, and in payment of a yearly attorney registration fee. After being contacted by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel about possible improprieties in his handling of entrusted funds, the Respondent in two other instances improperly deposited trust funds to his general office account instead of his IOLTA account. Restitution to the estate was made from funds the Respondent held for another client who later became his employer. At the disciplinary hearing the employer ratified the Respondentís uses of the funds, which funds were then considered as loans to the Respondent, which remained unpaid. The Respondentís contention that these funds were available to him at the time of his misuse of the estate funds was refuted by his bank records reflecting the other funds were not in his possession until after the conversions of the estate funds. The Respondentís contention that he used his office account for the estate funds because he was out of checks for his IOLTA trust account was refuted by evidence of his having used the IOLTA account for other matters at the times in question. The Respondentís reason for not complying with subpoenas issued to by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for financial records he was required to maintain was that he did not maintain those records. The Respondent requested that private, non-public, discipline be imposed. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel requested a suspension for three years.
Rule Violation(s) RPC 1.15(a) and (d); RPC 8.4(c).
Discipline Imposed Suspension for three years
Points of Law No Answer having been filed to the Petition for Discipline, the factual averments were deemed admitted, pursuant to Rule 208(b)(3), Pa.R.D.E. Commingling and conversion of entrusted funds generally warrants some period of suspension. The possibility of having other funds available in the amount of funds improperly used does not mitigate the misconduct.
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