The District of Columbia attorney ethics board has recommended a three-month suspension for an attorney who stole several neckties from a Nordstrom department store while he worked for the U.S. Treasury Department.
The Board on Professional Responsibility found that Albert Zarate did not commit a crime of moral turpitude when he nabbed “seven or eight” neckties in December 2009, but that his August 2010 plea to misdemeanor larceny warranted a 90-day suspension.
The suspension, which the board and Zarate negotiated, was “a legitimate and reasonable response” to the attorney’s “regrettable conduct,” the panel said on May 14. The D.C. Court of Appeals will consider the recommendation in determining the appropriate discipline for Zarate.
Reached by telephone on May 16, Zarate declined to comment.
In July 2010, Zarate took a handful of ties into the rest room at Nordstrom’s in Tyson’s Corner, Va., and removed the tags before walking out of the store, according to the disciplinary board. Store security staff apprehended him after he left.
The board noted that Zarate was moved to a non-attorney position at the Treasury Department following the incident. It also took into account the opinions of three mental health professionals that Zarate’s conduct was related to depression stemming from the breakup of his marriage.
“In light of this, there is simply no indication that he is at risk of reoffending or of engaging in similar conduct in the future,” the board said.
The board recommended that the court apply the suspension retroactively to December 2010 to March 2011.
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