A Fort Plain lawyer will have to hire an accountant to monitor his clients’ money following a decision on misconduct issued Thursday by the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, Third Department.
Richard P. Weinheimer II, who runs a private practice and also serves as an assistant public defender in Montgomery County, was brought to court following a probe by the Committee on Professional Standards.
The committee reviews complaints about attorneys in the state court system’s Third Department and pursues disciplinary action in the event serious misconduct is found.
According to a decision rendered Thursday, Weinheimer was the subject of a complaint about mishandling of money held in escrow for a client.
He was accused of letting the escrow account fall below the “appropriate amount” that was to be held in the account on behalf of the client, according to Michael Gaynor, an attorney at the Committee on Professional Standards.
The matter was sent to a referee, who investigated and issued a report that did not sustain the charge that Weinheimer’s handling of the account violated the Code of Professional Responsibility, according to the decision.
Weinheimer on Thursday referred questions to his attorney, Richard E. Grayson of White Plains. Grayson said the case ultimately revealed accounting errors on the part of Weinheimer.
“Basically it was poor bookkeeping,” Grayson said, adding that detailed accounting often falls on the shoulders of attorneys.
“The rules are very specific, and none of us went to law school to be bookkeepers,” Grayson said.
The Appellate Division, in its decision, stayed a one-year suspension and ordered Weinheimer to get a certified public accountant to issue a quarterly report certifying he is “maintaining his escrow accounts and preserving client funds in accordance with applicable provisions of the attorney disciplinary rules.”
Weinheimer also has to attend and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination within the next year.
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Categories: Schenectady County