Recently, an experienced lawyer in the Bronx was disbarred. Joram Aris’s name was taken off the list of legally approved attorneys in the state of New York. He was accused of misappropriating a client’s funds that amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. He did so to use this money for his own personal use. He also failed to ever respond to the initial requests made by the Attorney Grievance Committee regarding the matter.
Joram Jehudah Aris has practiced mainly real estate and will law for years. He was first admitted in 1979 into the New York State Bar. He was then immediately suspended from engaging in law practice on May 10 of last year.
The First Department panel detailed how Aris failed to provide documentation regarding the grievance committee’s investigation. He also failed to provide proof or an explanation as to the reasoning behind his actions regarding the misappropriation of funds.
When he was combating the potential suspension, Aram noted that he would be retiring in February 2018, so the committee’s decision to suspend him did not need to occur.
The grievance committee disagreed with Aris’s argument. They felt that even with his proposed retirement, Aris was required to fulfil his obligations under the New York State Bar. Last year the grievance committee suspended the license of another New York attorney due to ethical violations.
Basically, they stated that he needed to remain a lawyer until they made a decision to either suspend or disbar him. The panel ultimately made the decision to disbar Aris after he had failed to respond to the committee’s decision to suspend him. He not only failed to respond, but he also did not show up to any of the investigatory proceedings regarding the matter.
Aris had allegedly failed to provide any documentation including bank and tax records of his deceased clients. He also did not respond to any questions relating to his financial misconduct. They found that tens of thousands of dollars were placed in his attorney trust account.
The committee found evidence that included banking records which detailed the transfer of his client’s funds into Aris’s personal accounts.
Aris was 65 years old during the committee’s initial decision in May of last year. He did not hire any external help and officially listed himself as his own legal representation. The total amount of funds misappropriated is allegedly over $500,000 and occurred over a period of five years.
In January, the committee was able to gain access to bank records from an estate account in question. The account’s details were murky on whether the costs of $484,662 were legitimate. They felt it deserved further investigation. It appeared as if the expenditure was only done to support Aris’s finances and not his client’s.
Examples of misappropriation included payments towards his son’s university tuition, his own therapy sessions, and even his credit card bills. He used $29,110 to pay for his own state taxes. Aris also paid himself an amount of $174,425. None of these costs were related at all to the estate account. The committee found the exact total amounted to $510,292.39.