Tabber Benedict, a former Am Law 100 associate and Manhattan socialite convicted of multiple felonies for critically injuring a bicyclist while driving drunk and leaving the scene of the accident in 2011, can no longer practice law in New York following a discipline board's ruling this week.
The First Judicial Department of New York state court's appellate division on Tuesday disbarred Benedict, who is currently serving a prison sentence of three and one-third to 10 years at Hudson Correctional Facility in upstate New York. The disbarment is retroactive to November 27, 2012, the date on which Benedict pleaded guilty to crimes including aggravated vehicular assault (a class C felony); two counts of vehicular assault in the second degree (a class E felony); and leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it (a class E felony), according to the disciplinary decision.
A 2002 graduate of Columbia Law School, the 36-year-old Benedict worked as a corporate associate at Hughes Hubbard & Reed; Schulte Roth & Zabel; and White & Case before going in-house and later starting his own firm, according to his personal website (Hughes Hubbard and White & Case spokesmen confirmed Benedict's employment at the respective firms).
The criminal proceedings against Benedict were the result of a car accident on the morning of July 4, 2011, when he was driving home drunk from a trip to the Hamptons. With an alcohol level close to three times the legal limit, Benedict swerved into lifeguard Steve Dorn, who was in the final two miles of a 44-mile bike ride, according to Newsday. Benedict drove off, and a second car also hit the victim.
The accident left Dorn with injuries that included a broken back, shoulder, and hip that continue to plague him to this day and make it difficult for him to work, according to news reports.
Even after the incident, Benedict continued to pop up in the society pages of New York publications. In June 2012, for instance, the New York Observer featured Benedict in a story about "Gatsbabies," a term the paper coined to describe "preening prepsters" who, according to the article's subheadline, "lure ladies, lucre, and limelight in merry Manhattan." Benedict acknowledged in the article the negative opinion some people had of him, telling the Observer, "'People look at me and they’re like, ‘That spoiled prick.' " (In 2008 The Wall Street Journal featured Benedict and his then-fiance in an article on a taxi driver who doubled as a matchmaker and had set up the pair. The engagement didn't last, according to the Observer.)
In February, the New York Post reported that Benedict threw one last party before going to prison, telling his friends he was about to embark on a trip to Europe.
Benedict represented himself pro se in the attorney disciplinary proceedings, according to state records. His criminal attorney, Mark Heller, has a colorful client resume that includes the likes of Lindsay Lohan and serial killer David Berkowitz (aka the Son of Sam). Heller told Newsday in 2012 that Benedict was "very remorseful and very contrite."