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Lawyer censured for offering legal services in exchange for sex

A Cheektowaga attorney has been censured for arranging to exchange legal services for sex with a woman charged with prostitution.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester censured Richard R. Shaw II, a private practice attorney. Shaw was working with the assigned counsel program in Cheektowaga Town Court in 2015 when he was assigned to assist the woman. Shaw allegedly suggested to the woman that she could pay for his services through sexual relations.

The woman reported the overtures to police and Shaw subsequently pleaded guilty in Cheektowaga court to loitering for the purposes of prostitution. He was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge and 50 hours of community service.

Shaw also admitted his guilt to a state court Grievance Committee after it filed a petition charging him with professional misconduct.

According to the Grievance Committee of the Appellate Division of the Fourth Judicial Department, Shaw made his offer to the woman after she was arraigned on the prostitution charge in April 2015. She was “noncommittal,” according to the judicial panel, but Shaw persisted, contacting her by phone and text message over the next two days.

The woman reported Shaw to police, who then recorded phone conversations between the woman and Shaw in which he finalized the deal.

In its notice of the censure, the Appellate panel found that although Shaw canceled the agreement before it was consummated, he was criminally charged and pleaded guilty to the loitering violation in July 2015.

The Appellate panel found that Shaw violated four rules of conduct: having a conflict of interest that could affect his professional judgment, demanding sexual relations as a condition of representation, engaging in illegal conduct and engaging in conduct that adversely reflected on his fitness as a lawyer.

Shaw apparently told the court that he was in the midst of family problems when the lapse occurred and that he also was experiencing mental health difficulties.

He sought treatment for his problems and has expressed what the court deemed to be sincere remorse.

A censure is a public condemnation of an attorney’s behavior – stronger than a private letter of admonition but not as harsh as a suspension.

An attorney who is censured does not lose his privilege to practice law.

Shaw, a graduate of the University at Buffalo Law School, was admitted to practice in New York in 2000.

His offices are on William Street in Cheektowaga.