Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Disciplinary Action Against Saltzstein

Supreme Court of Minnesota

June 21, 2017

In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Geoffrey R. Saltzstein, a Minnesota Attorney Registration No. 0292828

         Office of Appellate Courts Original Jurisdiction

          Susan M. Humiston, Director, Binh T. Tuong, Assistant Director, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for petitioner.

          Geoffrey R. Saltzstein, Edina, Minnesota, pro se.

         SYLLABUS

         Disbarment is the appropriate discipline for an attorney who misappropriated client funds, made false statements to clients, failed to diligently handle client matters, failed to communicate with clients, failed to enter into proper fee agreements and communicate the basis of rates and fees, and failed to cooperate with the Director's investigations.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM

         The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed a petition for disciplinary action against respondent Geoffrey R. Saltzstein, alleging, in part, misappropriation of client funds, false statements, failure to diligently handle client matters, failure to adequately communicate with clients, failure to enter into proper fee agreements and communicate the basis of rates and fees, and noncooperation with the Director's investigations. After Saltzstein did not file an answer to the petition, we deemed the allegations of the petition admitted. The sole issue before us is the appropriate discipline. We conclude that the appropriate sanction is disbarment.

         FACTS

         Respondent Geoffrey R. Saltzstein was admitted to the practice of law in Minnesota on October 30, 2009.[1] Saltzstein's misconduct involved his representation of six clients: C.W., P.A., N.K., M.O., R.R., and R.M.

         C.W. Matter

         In November 2010, C.W. retained Saltzstein to defend him in a criminal matter. In December 2010, C.W. pleaded guilty and began to serve his 5-year prison sentence. Saltzstein agreed to hold money in his law firm's trust account that C.W. expected to receive from a settlement of an unrelated civil suit while C.W. was serving his sentence. C.W. gave Saltzstein the first of two installments from the settlement. By the summer of 2011, after a series of deductions that C.W. authorized, the trust account contained $28, 663.58 of C.W.'s funds.

         Pursuant to a power of attorney from C.W., Saltzstein placed $28, 713.58 into a mutual-fund account in C.W's name. [2] When C.W. received his second settlement installment payment of $9, 500, he instructed Saltzstein to place the money into the mutual-fund account. Saltzstein did so.

         In 2011, C.W. agreed to pay Saltzstein $3, 000 to review C.W.'s criminal case and $3, 000 to file a motion to reopen the case. Saltzstein subsequently filed a motion to withdraw C.W.'s guilty plea on C.W.'s behalf. Saltzstein withdrew a total of $7, 500 from C.W.'s mutual-fund account, $1, 500 more than C.W. had agreed to pay in attorney fees.

         In addition to the unauthorized withdrawal of an additional $1, 500 for the motion to withdraw the guilty plea, Saltzstein made a series of unauthorized withdrawals from C.W.'s mutual-fund account. Over the next year, Saltzstein withdrew nearly all of C.W.'s mutual-account funds without C.W.'s knowledge or permission, leaving the mutual-fund account with a balance of only $1.75 by March 2013.

         Saltzstein made a series of false and misleading statements about C.W.'s mutual-fund account. In August 2014, C.W. requested an accounting of his mutual-fund account. Saltzstein responded that he had liquidated the account and that C.W. would receive the balance of the funds in 10 to 14 days. Saltzstein never provided an accounting. C.W.'s sister emailed Saltzstein, indicating that C.W. had never asked for a liquidation of the mutual-fund account, to which Saltzstein responded that he "was simply safeguarding [C.W.'s] money." In September 2014, when C.W. sought information about the deductions from his mutual-fund account, Saltzstein told C.W. that the liquidated funds were being redeposited and that the balance was about $16, 000. In reality, there was no liquidation or funds redeposited, and there was only a balance of $1.75 in the account.

         In October 2014, nearing the end of his sentence, C.W. needed money for housing upon leaving prison. Saltzstein told C.W. not to apply for emergency financial assistance, saying "you have the money." Saltzstein, however, had withdrawn almost all of the funds from C.W.'s mutual-fund account.

         By November 2014, after C.W. had communicated with the named partner at the law firm where Saltzstein worked, Saltzstein made partial restitution, bringing the mutual-fund-account balance to $23, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.