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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 92578
Attorney Name Hallock, Richard
DBP Docket No. 241 DB 2010
Supreme Court Docket No. 1669 D.D. No.3
County Lackawanna
Disciplinary Counsel John Francis Dougherty
Counsel for Respondent None
Decision Date 2011-03-02
Effective Date 2011-04-02
Case Digest Between October 2006 and into 2010, Respondent engaged in numerous misappropriations of entrusted funds and related misconduct, including misrepresentations to clients and third parties. The misappropriations included funds of estates, funds from real estate closings for which Respondent was the settlement agent, which funds were due to clients or third parties, such as the Department of Public Welfare, the Department of Revenue for Inheritance Taxes and transfer taxes, a title company, and others. A variety of misrepresentations were made to those due funds, such as insistence that the funds had been remitted, that the client and not the Respondent had the funds, and/or that the funds must have been credited by the payee to the wrong account, or that the funds had been paid to others based on a variety of unsupportable theories put forth by the Respondent. Respondent as the agent for a title insurance company failed to remit funds from closings due the title company; Respondent had misappropriated those funds. The title company also incurred substantial liability on conveyances handled by the Respondent in which he collected title insurance premiums for policies of which the company had no knowledge, and in which transactions the Respondent converted to his own uses funds due third parties, failed to record deeds and mortgages, and pay related obligations such as transfer taxes. The Respondentís conduct was substantially caused by misappropriations of funds in which restitution was made from subsequent funds received in unrelated matters. Respondent as the settlement agent for a real estate transaction induced a client to pay Respondent fees in excess of those needed to close and then converted those funds, refused to account to successor counsel, and made misrepresentations that he had to continue holding the funds for a variety of reasons that were baseless. He also converted funds due a third party for the payment of real estate taxes. The converted funds totaled about $16,500. The client reported the matter to the District Attorney, the Respondent made restitution of $12,000 in funds borrowed from his father, and was charged with offenses relating to the balance. He entered a guilty plea and his sentence included restitution of the approximate $4,500 still owed. The criminal conviction and other misconduct relating to the same real estate transaction were part of a Joint Petition for Discipline on Consent for a three year suspension approved by the Disciplinary Board on January 3, 2011. On March 2, 2011, the Court entered an order suspending the Respondent for three years.
Rule Violation(s) 1.3 1.4 1.15(b) 1.15(c) 1.15(d) 1.15(e) 4.1 8.4(a) 8.4(b) 8.4(c) Pa.R.D.E. 203
Discipline Imposed Suspension for 3 years (on consent)
Points of Law Misappropriations of entrusted funds, and related misconduct such as repeated misrepresentations to those due funds, including clients and third parties, in some instances creating actual or potential prejudice and liabilities, warrants substantial discipline. A Respondentís cooperation with disciplinary proceedings, such as entering into a Consent Petition, may be considered as mitigation in determining the appropriate degree of discipline.
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