A Buffalo attorney has been suspended from practicing law in New York for at least three years for his convictions for tax fraud and attempted grand larceny, and for a number of other actions of professional misconduct.
David J. Seeger already was under an interim suspension, ordered by the State Supreme Court in October 2014. He had pleaded guilty in July 2014 to fourth-degree attempted grand larceny for deducting $21,281 in state withholding taxes from his employees’ paychecks and pocketing the money over a four-year period.
He subsequently received a conditional discharge in exchange for restitution and performing 100 hours of community service.
However, according to the Appellate Division, it also received two petitions accusing Seeger of four charges of professional misconduct: entering into a business transaction with a client without making required disclosures, misappropriating client funds, neglecting client matters entrusted to him, and failing to file and pay personal income taxes for seven years.
According to the appellate panel, Seeger admitted in October 2015 that he inappropriately borrowed $35,300 from a client’s funds while representing her as executrix of an estate in 2007.
He reportedly did not tell the client about the loan or about any terms or plans he had for repayment.
In 2010, the same client hired him to help recover a deposit for a cancelled real estate transaction, but when he received a $15,000 settlement in the matter, he didn’t give her the money and he refused to respond when she inquired about the status of the case. He eventually admitted taking the money when confronted by his client in December 2010.
Seeger also admitted that, in 2010 and 2012, he failed to follow through on an appeal for one client, leading to its dismissal and then ignored the client’s questions about the status of the case and didn’t inform her that the appeal had been dismissed.
From 2007 to 2013, Seeger did not file returns or pay his state and federal income taxes.
The appellate judges found Seeger guilty of professional misconduct in violation of multiple Rules of Professional Conduct.
The court notes that Seeger claims he has filed his delinquent tax returns and repaid a substantial portion of the money he took from his client.
However, the panel also points out that Seeger was previously admonished for failing to return money to clients and keeping them informed about the status of their matters, calling his behavior “an extended period of serious misconduct.”
That includes a case he was handling in 2012, when he was sanctioned by a federal judge and ordered to pay $14,000 in legal fees when he missed judicial deadlines for filings in a Rochester environmental case.