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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ind. Decisions - Indianapolis attorney suspended for 180 days

In In the Matter of: Tarek E. Mercho, a 2-page, 5-0 order, Robert D. Rucker, Acting Chief Justice of Indiana, writes:

Facts: Respondent misappropriated funds from his attorney trust account over a period of several years, making dozens of disbursements of client funds for purely personal purposes. Further, at least two of these instances involved disbursement of funds Respondent was holding in trust for another attorney and that attorney’s client. During the Commission’s investigation, Respondent made numerous false statements, and submitted a client ledger containing false entries, in an attempt to extricate himself from the disciplinary process.

The Commission alleged, and the hearing officer found, that Respondent violated Professional Conduct Rules 1.15(a) and 8.1(a), and Admission and Discipline Rules 23(29)(a)(4) (2016) and 23(29)(a)(5) (2016), in connection with his trust account mismanagement and dishonesty toward the Commission. Respondent has not sought review of those findings. The Commission also alleged violations of Professional Conduct Rules 8.4(b) and 8.4(c), premised on the notion that Respondent’s financial mismanagement was criminal in nature, but the hearing officer found the Commission had not sustained its burden of proof on these charges. The Commission seeks review of the hearing officer’s conclusions that Respondent did not commit criminal conversion or deception. * * *

Discipline. * * * Respondent’s pervasive financial mismanagement and his dishonesty toward the Commission are serious offenses warranting an active suspension, and the Commission’s argument that Respondent thereafter should be required to undergo the reinstatement process is not without some force. However, in light of Respondent’s adjudged lack of criminal intent, his lack of prior discipline, and the corrective measures he already has undertaken, we conclude that a suspension followed by probation with CPA monitoring is appropriate discipline in this case.

Accordingly, for Respondent’s professional misconduct the Court suspends Respondent from the practice of law for a period of 180 days, beginning May 10, 2017, with 90 days actively served and the remainder stayed subject to completion of at least one year of probation. Respondent’s probation shall include trust account monitoring by a CPA who is acceptable to the Commission and who shall report quarterly to the Commission.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 29, 2017 02:39 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions