Respondent was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the Second Judicial Department. At all times relevant to these proceedings, respondent maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Judicial Department.
A New York Criminal attorney said in November 2006, respondent was served with a notice and statement of charges alleging that he engaged in illegal conduct that adversely reflected on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, and further engaged in conduct that adversely reflected on his fitness as a lawyer. Both charges arose from respondent’s guilty plea in Supreme Court, Suffolk County, to the crime of attempted criminal sex act in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor. Underlying the guilty plea was respondent’s admission that he engaged in sexually explicit conversations over an Internet chat room with an undercover police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl, followed by his attempted meeting with the presumed minor for purposes of sexual contact. Respondent filed an answer in this proceeding, admitting the charges and requesting a hearing on mitigation.
A hearing was held before a Referee. For the most part, the dissent has accurately stated the evidence adduced at the hearing, which will not be repeated herein. The only omission was the testimony of two character witnesses. The first character witness, the chair of the intellectual property practice at a law firm, testified that he first met respondent in 1998, when he was respondent’s supervising criminal attorney at a New York City law firm. After his arrest, respondent called this attorney and told him what he had done. The witness testified that respondent had a reputation for honesty and integrity, notwithstanding the events leading to his conviction, and that respondent has a pending job offer with his current firm once these disciplinary proceedings are concluded. A second character witness testified that she grew up with respondent, and was close friends with his sister. She further testified that she had kept in touch with respondent, who had a reputation for being a smart and honest person, even after his conviction.