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Another Reason to Be Nice to Your Secretary

Gross Monday, the New Jersey Supreme Court heard argument in an attorney discipline case. At issue is whether David Gross should be disbarred for keeping a $50,000 "bonus" given by one of his clients that was super-pleased with his work.

The state Disciplinary Review Board found that keeping the money, rather than turning it over to his then firm, Budd Larner, constituted "willful misappropriation" and recommended disbarment. The vote was 5-2, with the dissenters recommending a mere censure or temporary suspension.

The details of the incident, as reported in the New Jersey Law Journal, do make it sound rather shady:

Gross' problems arose when told his secretary, Claudette McCarthy, about the gift. She had worked for Gross for many years and he gave her glowing evaluations, the DRB said.

McCarthy testified that she typed an invoice setting up the Keene payment and a letter advised Keene to send the check to Gross in an envelope marked 'personal and confidential.' Letters not marked that way would be opened in the mailroom and the check would have automatically been set aside for deposit in the firm account, according to testimony.

Gross instructed McCarthy to remove the letter from her computer and told her not to tell anyone in the firm about it.

The secretary was OK with keeping the payment on the DL for four years. But she would only take so much crap from a guy who she had helped out to the tune of $50K:

She kept quiet about it until 2002, when she decided to get even because Gross had begun treating her badly, she testified. The mean treatment began in 1999 after she refused to take time from a busy schedule to do some work for Gross' wife, Heidi Gross, a lawyer in the firm. There were other incidents, one of which ended with Gross calling McCarthy a 'fucking idiot,' she told the Daily Business Review.

In 2002, not long after Gross wrote 'no' across her vacation request and threw it into a wastebasket, McCarthy told members of the firm about the 1998 check.

David, David -- you've got to remember on which side your bread is buttered if you want to be a successful thief attorney.

Posted by Eric Lipman on April 28, 2010 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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