No. 174, Disciplinary Docket No. 1, Disciplinary Board No. 10DB78, Attorney Registration No. 00548
Allen B. Zerfoss, Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Edward A. Burkardt, Asst. Disciplinary Counsel, Pittsburgh, for petitioner.
George E. Ewing, I. P. P., pro se.
Robert F. Frazier, Pittsburgh, for respondent.
O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ.
This disciplinary proceeding stems from a report of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recommending that respondent be disbarred from the practice of law in this Commonwealth for multiple violations of Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(4) which prohibits an attorney from engaging "in conduct involving fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation."
On February 17, 1978, a Petition for Discipline was filed against respondent by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in response to two separate charges of misconduct levied by former business associates of respondent. Hearing Committee 4.12 was empaneled and after a hearing which produced over 800 pages of testimony, found respondent in violation of DR 1-102(A)(4) as to both charges and recommended disbarrment. Respondent excepted to the report and recommendation of the Hearing Committee and a three member
panel of the Disciplinary Board heard oral argument on May 1, 1980. On November 20, 1980 the Board filed its report which concurred with the findings of the Hearing Committee and recommended disbarrment. On January 30, 1981, we entered an order suspending respondent and issued a Rule on respondent to show cause why he should not be disbarred. Oral argument was heard by this Court on September 14, 1981. After a thorough review of the record and careful consideration of the arguments raised in respondent's brief, we agree with the recommendation of the Board that disbarrment is the appropriate sanction in this matter.
Since two separate charges of misconduct were brought against respondent, we will discuss the relevant facts of each charge separately.
Charge I -- Johnson Matter
In March of 1977, respondent discussed with C. Bayard Johnson, Jr. (Johnson) the possibility of Johnson investing in a business venture which respondent was helping develop for a group of individuals. The venture concerned a patented invention known as an "energy enricher" for which respondent was trying to obtain investment capital for development of the device and possible formation of a corporation. Respondent told Johnson that he would be paid $200 a week for promoting investment in the invention provided he agreed to put $10,000 down in escrow to show he had the means to invest when the new company was formed. Finally, on March 21, 1977, Johnson transferred $10,000 to respondent's escrow account at the Pittsburgh National Bank pursuant to a letter agreement executed by both parties on the same day. The agreement, in addition to alleging that respondent was counsel for undisclosed parties with rights to an "energy enricher" invention, stated that Johnson was transferring the money to respondent's 5% ...