Connecticut’s Statewide Grievance Committee has released summaries with results of the following disciplinary hearings held in May. Complaints included violations of rules of professional conduct, problems associated with drugs and/or alcohol, neglect of clients’ cases and stealing funds from clients.
On May 3, an attorney identified only as John Doe was handed a 30-day suspension by Judge Antonio Robaina at the Hartford District Superior Court. Representing the respondent was attorney Brendon Levesque of Hartford’s Horton Shields & Knox, who agreed on behalf of his client to the suspension, along with a random weekly alcohol screening test during the suspension. Representing the Statewide Grievance Committee was attorney Michael Bowler.
Under the terms of the decision, starting June 2, the respondent would be automatically reinstated to the bar, with weekly screenings continuing for an additional four weeks. Respondent Doe was present for the ruling, which noted that if any alcohol screenings come up positive, he would automatically be placed back on suspension without further order. Any further discipline will be determined by the court.
Improper Use of Funds
On May 24 at Middlesex District Superior Court, attorney Matthew L. Disorbo received a six-month suspension for using Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) funds to pay personal debts, in violation of Rule 1.15(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The suspension was issued retroactively, and covered the period from Nov. 23, 2016, to May 24, 2017.
Fraudulent Stock Trading
Hartford attorney and former City Councilor Corey Brinson, who was sentenced to three years in prison in April for his role in fraudulent penny stock trading, was also suspended from practicing law for six years, effective Nov. 10, 2016. Brinson was accused of running a stock-manipulation scheme that bilked investors out of more than $3 million.
Neglect of Duties
Attorney James Lipsky received a two-year limitation on his license to practice law May 23 at the Waterbury District Superior Court for reportedly failing in his duties as an attorney for five clients under Sections 1.3 and 1.4 (a)(3) of the Code of Conduct. Clients’ actions between 2012 and 2015 were compromised as a result of the neglect, due in part to Lipsky suffering from depression, a court document notes.
“Attorney Lipsky has filed a stipulation of misconduct and, although apparently not accepted, he apologized in open court to two of the five complainants who attended the hearing in this matter,” Judge Mark H. Taylor wrote. “Although his apology was neither effusive nor emotional, in the court’s view it appeared to be offered with remorse.”
Taylor also noted that under the court’s order, Lipsky must meet several conditions during the next two years, including completing mental health treatment, not practicing law as a solo practitioner or without a supervising attorney, maintaining errors and omissions insurance and to receive mentoring by attorney Gregory St. John.
Resignation and Waiver
Attorney Maureen O’Doherty’s resignation and waiver were accepted May 30 at the Middlesex District Superior Court. Referring to a separate report filed by the Statewide Grievance Committee, Judge David P. Gould determined O’Doherty had committed professional misconduct, which she acknowledged by affidavit.
On May 17, the Hartford District Superior Court responded to an application for reciprocal discipline against attorney Thomas S. Rome by issuing a reprimand.
On May 19, at the Fairfield District Superior Court, an application for inactive status was granted for attorney Stephen Wright. Attorney James M. Nugent was appointed as trustee.
A judge at Fairfield District Superior Court has suspended attorney Peter L. Craft after at least three arrests leading to imprisonment for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Craft was placed on interim suspension Nov. 2, 2016, and that suspension was upheld at an April 27 meeting. Judge Barbara Bellis issued a two-and-a-half-year suspension retroactive to Nov. 2, requirement of application for reinstatement.
On May 19 at the Fairfield District Superior Court, attorney Enrico Vaccaro was found in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct in connection with his handling of a personal injury claim for Stephen Boileau and for failing to respond to official requests for documents. “The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent violated Rule 8.1(2) and Practice Book Section 2-27(c),” wrote Bellis, “and agrees with Disciplinary Counsel that a reprimand is the appropriate discipline. Accordingly, the court issues a reprimand in this matter.”
The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel accepted the resignation of attorney Burt M. Hoffman, in connection with a Statewide Grievance Committee report of professional misconduct. Hoffman’s resignation and waiver were accepted by the court.