Bruce Pritikin, an attorney and public accountant, was suspended from practicing law for two years yesterday by a unanimous Appellate Division, First Department, panel for depositing a client’s money into his IOLA account in order to help that client avoid tax liability. Pritikin is a certified public accountant and partner at accounting firm DDS & Co., where he began working in 1996. He has never been employed by the firm in his capacity as an attorney, but as a lawyer he was able to open an IOLA account.
According to the panel, Pritikin opened his account in 2007 so that he could deposit a client’s funds there to avoid the attachment of tax liens and judgments. He later deposited money belonging to another client of the accounting firm into his account, and used that client’s money to satisfy the first client’s obligations, which he attributed to a bookkeeping error. A hearing panel of the departmental disciplinary committee found that Pritikin had not intentionally engaged in deception, but recommended he be suspended for two years. Pritikin argued that he should be publicly censured instead.
In upholding the suspension recommendation, the panel said that "Insofar as the record demonstrates and respondent testified that he intentionally shielded the first client’s funds from at least one tax lien, thereby engaging in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, respondent violated [Disciplinary Rule] 1-102(a)(4)." Presiding Justice Luis Gonzalez (See Profile) and Justices David Saxe (See Profile), Sheila Abdus-Salaam (See Profile), Salie Manzanet Daniels (See Profile) and Nelson Roman (See Profile) sat on the panel in Matter of Pritikin, M-2485.