The lawyer is disfellowshipped for mishandling the client review and recording the trial with hidden camera glasses
A New York attorney was disqualified from practicing law in connection with a loan from a client, misappropriation of funds earmarked for a transcript, and a classified court record.
The First Judicial Division of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court revoked the license of New York attorney Angel Antonio Castro III in a Nov. 3 opinion.
The Court of Appeal said that an arbitrator’s findings “are firmly supported by the records”. Because the expert found that Castro had deliberately exchanged client funds and there is no substantial mitigating evidence, Castro’s license should be revoked, the appeals court said.
Castro told ABA Journal in an email that he would appeal and “pursue all legal options available to me.”
“I’ve made mistakes,” says Castro, “but there are many extenuating factors and certainly no malice or deceit.”
The allegations against Castro stemmed from three separate matters, the appeals court said. They are:
• A client gave Castro a check for $3,500 specifically for trial records needed for an appeal. Castro deposited the check into his business account but never paid for the copies. He made withdrawals from the account for business and personal expenses, leaving a balance of $70. Castro had claimed the check was an advance that he could spend as he pleased.
• Castro wore glasses with a hidden camera to make an unauthorized recording of a marriage trial.
• Castro borrowed $100,000 from a client in 2017 to open his law practice. Castro drafted the loan agreement and repayment schedule “despite the proprietary nature of this transaction,” according to the Court of Appeals. The customer claimed Castro only repaid $25,000.
Castro had attempted to refer the disciplinary case to the Fourth Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal for representing a former First Judicial Division employee who alleged sexual harassment.
He also alleged that the arbiter failed to give due weight to the evidence regarding the implications of his arrest and violation by the New York City Police Department. The charges were dropped, but Castro said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other issues as a result of the incident.
The Court of Appeal said its allegation of possible bias by the court was unfounded. The court also said the arbitrator reviewed the mitigating evidence and found it was not “extremely unusual” to justify a lesser sanction.
Castro said in his email to the Journal that there was no transparency in the disciplinary process.
He alleges that the ethics authorities “failed to follow written procedures and provide exculpatory evidence.”
“There is no sworn testimony or statements from any of the complainants,” Castro said. “One of them is currently being prosecuted for threatening former Chief Justice Janet DiFiore’s secretary as part of his campaign to contact and harass everyone involved to influence the grievance process.”
Kudos to the Legal Profession Blog, which published opinion highlights, and Law.com, which reported on the decision.