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Monday, June 6, 2011

Corrupt Officer of The Court Disbarred

Attorney Disbarred After Pleading Guilty to Theft
The New York Law Journal by Brendan Pierson  -  June 6, 2011

James J. Armenakis of Manhattan was disbarred last week by the Appellate Division, First Department, after being indicted more than two years ago for stealing $735,000 from a client escrow account. He pleaded guilty to grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing and possession of stolen property on Oct. 22, 2010. The panel said that, although Mr. Armenakis has not yet been sentenced, his guilty plea was automatic grounds for disbarment.  According to the indictment, Mr. Armenakis received a deposit in 2007 of $735,000 in connection with representing the seller of a $7.35 million condo. While he initially deposited the funds into his escrow account, he failed to show up on the day the transaction was scheduled to close and did not return the money to the buyer and allegedly spent it on himself. He also pleaded guilty to charges that he failed to pay some $98,000 in state taxes and under-reported his personal income from 2002 to 2007. Matter of Armenakis, M-889, appears on page 7 of the print edition of today's Law Journal.

Matter of James J. Armenakis (admitted as James John Armenakis), an attorney and counselor-at-law, M-889

Legal Profession  -  New York Law Journal  -  06-03-2011

Cite as: Matter of Armenakis, M-889, NYLJ 1202496081202, at *1 (App. Div. 1st, Decided June 2, 2011)  Before: Tom, J.P., Saxe, Moskowitz, Renwick and DeGrasse, JJ.  Decided: June 2, 2011  -  Jorge Dopico, Chief Counsel, Departmental Disciplinary Committee, New York (Raymond Vallejo, of counsel), for petitioner.  Michael A. Gentile, for respondent

Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, James J. Armenakis, was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the First Judicial Department on January 15, 1973.

PER CURIAM-  Respondent James J. Armenakis was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on January 15, 1973, under the name James John Armenakis. At all times relevant to this proceeding, respondent has maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Judicial Department.  By order entered December 4, 2008, this Court suspended respondent from the practice of law pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.4(e)(1)(ii), based upon his admissions under oath and supporting documentation that he had committed professional misconduct that immediately threatened the public interest (Matter of Armenakis, 58 AD3d 222 [2008]). Specifically, respondent admitted that he converted to his own use $735,000 hewas holding in escrow; mismanaged the escrow account which included repeated overdrafts; failed to maintain proper records; deposited personal funds into the escrow account; and failed to supervise a non-attorney in connection with the escrow account.  On October 22, 2010, respondent pleaded guilty in Supreme Court, New York County, to grand larceny in the second degree (Penal Law §155.40[1]), a class C felony; grand larceny in the third degree (Penal Law §155.35), a class D felony; offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree (Penal Law §175.35), a class E felony; and criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree (Penal Law §165.50), a class D felony. The plea was in full satisfaction of an indictment and superior court information. During his plea allocution, respondent admitted that he committed grand larceny in the second degree and offered a false instrument for filing in the first degree when, from 1996 through 2008, he failed to pay withholding taxes in relation to his law firm employees which amounted to approximately $90,000 (with penalties and interest it amounted to $200,000) and, he knowingly and falsely understated his tax liability on his 2006 New York State personal income tax return. Respondent further admitted that, as counsel for the seller in a real estate transaction, he deposited into his escrow account a down payment check in the amount of $735,000 and, thereafter, used those funds for personal obligations so that on or about May 2, 2008, the day of the closing, said funds were not turned over. Thus, respondent conceded that by stealing the $735,000, he committed grand larceny in the third degree and knowingly possessed stolen property in the third degree. On November 17, 2010, respondent executed an affidavit of confession of judgment in the amount of $735,000, and was scheduled to enter into an order of restitution.  While respondent was scheduled to be sentenced on  these convictions on April 20, 2011, we have not been informed as to whether sentence has in fact been imposed.  The Departmental Disciplinary Committee now seeks an order, pursuant to Judiciary Law §90(4)(b), striking respondent's name from the roll of attorneys on the ground that he was automatically disbarred as a result of his felony convictions, as defined by Judiciary Law §90(4)(e). Respondent has written this Court stating that he will not be submitting a response to the Committee's motion to strike.  Respondent's conviction of New York felonies constitutes grounds for automatic disbarment under Judiciary Law §90(4) and his name should be stricken from the rolls (see Matter of Bernstein, 78 AD3d 94 [2010] [automatic disbarment based upon conviction of, inter alia, grand larceny in the second and third degree, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree]; Matter of Cherry, 51 AD3d 119 [2008] [automatic disbarment based upon conviction of grand larceny in the second and third degree]; Matter of Koeppel, 218 AD2d 46 [1995] [automatic disbarment based upon conviction of criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree]). The fact that respondent has not yet been sentenced does not impede the Committee's petition since, for purposes of automatic disbarment, conviction occurs at the time of plea (see Matter of Chilewich, 20 AD3d 109 [2005]; Matter of Sheinbaum, 47 AD3d 49 [2007]).  Accordingly, the Committee's petition should be granted and respondent's name stricken from the roll of attorneys pursuant to Judiciary Law §90(4)(a) and (b), effective nunc pro tunc to October 22, 2010.
All concur.  Order filed.


Anonymous said...

Looks like Michael Gentile is losing his juice!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Disciplinary Committee.

You've got another guy who is into retirement.

So, like every other committee, commission, department and official who are supposed to protect the people of the state, they all continue to ignore complaints, misconduct and wrongdoing in order to protect these crooks, until they are senior citizens and are no longer of any use to them.

Now that this guy has his retirement nest egg in place, they make a show of taking his licence to steal. OMG! Look they are doing their jobs! They are protecting us!

They don't seem to understand that this game goes both ways. When they slip-up, those individuals who are their friends now and help protect their misconduct, will be MIA. Just look at Bruno, Weiner and Schwarzenegger. Remember Wachtler?

There will be plenty of vultures out there who will be ready to pick their bones.

Anonymous said...

Automatic Disbarment on a Felony? That's not consistent with the Al Pirro Rule? Or is the Al Pirro Rule only apply to Al Pirro connected type folks?

Just asking?

Anonymous said...

Who ever Al Pirro IS connected to, it ain't Jeannine 'no 'mo. That connection 'dried up' long ago.

Anonymous said...

What about our old friend Sol (Whacky) Wachtler another felon who was the chief thief of NY. He went to federal prison and then got his law ticket returned to him......he also has a very nice painting of himself up in corrupt ALbany....Al Pirro's license was put on hold and then given back to him after he returned from federal prison the way any gangster would have. Big Al takes good care of little Al.

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