A disbarred attorney was sentenced today to three years probation, 250 hours of community service, and a suspended, 180-day stint in the county jail for misapplying $47,000 in settlement funds belonging to three clients.
''As I said, I was wrong but throughout my career I have tried to act diligently and honestly for my clients,'' said former Morristown attorney Paul J. Hirsh, 61, who has relocated from Mendham to Washington, D.C.
Hirsh pleaded guilty in August in state Superior Court, Morristown, to forgery and misapplication of entrusted property -- $47,000 in settlement funds that he should have immediately turned over to clients.
Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Weber asked Judge Thomas V. Manahan to impose 364 days in the county jail, in addition to probation. The judge instead set a 180-day jail term but suspended it and said it could be set aside after two years if Hirsh is successfully progressing through probation at that point. As part of his plea, Hirsh agreed to disbarment.
Hirsh didn't outright steal the money but used client funds for his own benefit and delayed turning them over to clients that Weber said needed the funds.
Weber said that Hirsh ''played fast and loose with his clients' funds,'' and used the money ''as his personal piggybank.''
Of the sentencing, Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi said: “The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Investigation commenced as a result of a referral from the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics following a financial audit. This resolution sends a clear message that those entrusted with the legal care of the citizens will be made to answer when they commit a crime. Mr. Hirsh will now have a criminal record and he will lose his privilege of practicing law, as he has proven himself unworthy of the trust needed to fulfill his duties as an attorney. As a result of this conviction, Mr. Hirsh was disbarred by Order of the New Jersey Supreme Court on September 9, 2009.”
Full Article and Source:
Ex-Morris Attorney Gets Probation