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Watertown attorney suspended; receives stay under certain conditions

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WATERTOWN — A grievance committee for the state’s Fifth Judicial District has suspended Watertown attorney David P. Antonucci’s ability to practice law for one year, but the suspension has been stayed providing Mr. Antonucci meets certain conditions.

In a decision released Friday by the state Appellate Division, Fourth Department, the committee found that from 2010 through 2012, Mr. Antonucci neglected client matters and made misrepresentations to clients regarding the status of their matters. Mr. Antonucci, who practices at 12 Public Square, admitted to the acts, according to the ruling.

He further admitted that he failed to provide a client in a domestic relations matter with a written retainer agreement and itemized billing statements at regular intervals and, in a separate matter, failed to refund unearned legal fees in a prompt manner.

According to the ruling, Mr. Antonucci also admitted that in early 2012 he failed to notify a client that he had received settlement proceeds belonging to the client in the amount of $10,000. Mr. Antonucci deposited only half of the proceeds into his trust account and for several months after failing to respond to numerous inquiries from the client regarding the funds. In July 2012, he remitted $5,000 to the client and, at the time, told the client that the settlement proceeds were not available sooner because of “cash flow problems” at his law office. In October 2012, Mr. Antonucci issued a billing statement to the client indicating that in February 2012 he had remitted to himself $5,000 in payment of outstanding legal fees in relation to the matter.

Finally, Mr. Antonucci admitted that he failed to respond promptly and completely to requests for information from the grievance committee during its investigation.

In determining an appropriate sanction, the committee considered several mitigating factors, including that Mr. Antonucci was experiencing medical issues for which he has since sought treatment. The committee further considered that Mr. Antonucci has hired a “mentor” attorney who intends to monitor his law practice and make recommendations as to how to prevent similar misconduct in the future. The committee also considered Mr. Antonucci’s remorse over the matters.

While the committee concluded that Mr. Antonucci be suspended for a year, it ordered that the suspension be stayed for that period provided Mr. Antonucci comply with the statutes and rules regulating attorney conduct and that he not be the subject of any further action, proceeding or application for discipline or sanctions in any court.

Also, he is to provide proof that he is continuing with medical treatment and that he is continuing to work with a mentor and implementing the mentor’s recommendations to improve the administration of his law firm. If Mr. Antonucci fails to meet any of the conditions, the committee may move to vacate the stay of the suspension.

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