Disciplinary Proceedings Against David J. Silberman
On Feb. 17, 2017, the Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked the Wisconsin law license of David J. Silberman. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Silberman, 2017 WI 10. Pursuant to SCR 22.22, the court imposed discipline reciprocal to a disbarment of Silberman by the Illinois Supreme Court. At the time of the misconduct, Silberman lived in Mequon and was licensed to practiced law in both Wisconsin and Illinois.
The two counts of misconduct for which the Illinois Supreme Court disbarred Silberman arose out of allegations that he transferred more than $460,000 in real estate escrow money from his trust account to the operating account of Nova Title, a company that he owned. The transfers were unrelated to the purpose of the escrow and exceeded any amounts legitimately owed to Silberman or Nova Title.
Accordingly, Silberman’s transfer of the funds constituted conversion of the clients’ trust funds to his own personal use. Silberman transferred some of the funds back, but more than $180,000 was not returned.
Silberman failed to respond to the Illinois disciplinary proceeding and provided no defense to the allegations. Accordingly, the allegations were deemed admitted and his disbarment was ordered pursuant to default proceedings.
The Illinois disbarment was based on two counts of misconduct: 1) failure to hold property of third persons, which was in Silberman’s possession in connection with a representation, separate from his own property, by converting real estate escrow account proceeds to fund the operation of Nova Title, in violation of Rule 1.15(a) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010); and 2) conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, by using real estate escrow funds to pay Nova Title’s operating expenses, in violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).
Silberman did not notify the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) of the Illinois disbarment within 20 days after its effective date.
In the Wisconsin reciprocal disciplinary proceeding initiated by the OLR, Silberman entered into a stipulation in which he agreed that the facts alleged in the OLR’s complaint supported the reciprocal revocation of his license to practice law in Wisconsin.
Silberman had no prior discipline in Wisconsin.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Craig E. Vance
On Oct. 26, 2016, the supreme court suspended the law license of Craig E. Vance for nine months, effective Nov. 30, 2016. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Vance, 2016 WI 89. The court also ordered Vance to pay the $2,570.85 cost of the disciplinary proceeding. Vance’s motion for reconsideration was denied on Jan. 9, 2017.
Vance’s law license was administratively suspended on Feb. 20, 2014, for failure to cooperate with an OLR investigation. His law license was again suspended in October 2014, for nonpayment of mandatory State Bar of Wisconsin dues. Vance’s disciplinary suspension was based on 21 counts of misconduct with respect to his handling of seven client matters.
In the first matter, Vance failed to provide competent representation, in violation of SCR 20:1.1; failed to pursue the client’s suit, in violation of SCR 20:1.3; failed to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3); and failed to provide the client’s file to successor counsel, in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d). Vance also failed to respond to the OLR’s request for a supplemental response, in violation of SCR 22.03(6), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h).
In the second matter, Vance commenced a representation and appeared in court while his license was suspended, in violation of SCR 22.26(2), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f).
In the third matter, Vance failed to advance the client’s interests, in violation of SCR 20:1.3; failed to inform the client of case developments, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4); and failed to notify the client, the court, and opposing counsel of his license suspension, in violation of SCR 22.26(1), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f).
In the fourth matter, Vance failed to notify the client, the prosecutor, and the court of his suspension and appeared at a hearing when his license was suspended, in violation of SCR 22.26(1) and (2), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f).
In the fifth matter, Vance failed to file any response to the opposing party’s motion for partial summary judgment and failed to appear at the hearing on the motion, in violation of SCR 20:1.3. He also failed to inform the clients of case developments, in violation of SCR 20:1.4(a)(3).
In the sixth matter, Vance failed to notify the client of his suspension, in violation of SCR 22.26(1), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f).
In the seventh matter, Vance commenced a representation and appeared in court when his license was suspended, in violation of SCR 22.26(2), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(f).
Vance failed in all matters to file a response to the OLR grievance investigation, in violation of SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h).
Vance had no prior discipline.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Thad M. Gegner
On Feb. 17, 2017, the supreme court revoked the law license of Thad M. Gegner, Eau Claire, following Gegner’s petition for consensual license revocation, and ordered him to pay restitution to various clients and the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Gegner, 2017 WI 11. In addition, the court ordered Gegner to pay the full cost of the disciplinary proceeding.
Gegner was admitted to practice in Wisconsin in 2003. His Wisconsin law license had been suspended since April 17, 2015, for noncooperation with the OLR in certain matters. The OLR filed an amended complaint against Gegner, setting forth 47 counts of misconduct arising from 11 client matters and an allegation of practicing law after suspension. The amended complaint requested revocation, plus payment of restitution and costs. Thereafter, Gegner filed a petition for consensual license revocation.
In his petition, Gegner acknowledged that he could not successfully defend himself against the allegations in the amended complaint. He also acknowledged that he could not successfully defend himself against four pending investigative matters that had not been publicly charged. The OLR supported Gegner’s petition. The referee filed a report recommending revocation and restitution.
The court found that, “Attorney Gegner has engaged in a widespread pattern of serious professional misconduct that has harmed his clients. He is either unwilling or unable to conform his conduct to the standards that are required to practice law in this state. Anything less than a revocation of his law license would unduly depreciate the seriousness of his misconduct, fail to protect the public and the court system from further misconduct, and inadequately deter similar misbehavior by other attorneys. Revocation is clearly deserved.”
The court granted the petition and revoked Gegner’s Wisconsin law license.
Gegner’s misconduct included violations of SCR 20:1.3; SCR 20:1.4(a)(3) and (4); SCR 20:1.5(a) and (b)(3); SCR 20:1.15(b)(4), (d)(1), and (g)(1) (all effective before July 1, 2016); SCR 20:1.16(d); SCR 20:3.3(a)(1); SCR 20:3.4(c); SCR 20:8.4(c); SCR 21.15(4); SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforced via 20:8.4(h); SCR 22.26; and SCR 31.10(1).
Gegner had no prior discipline.