On Wednesday, November 29, 2023, the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division; Second Judicial Department issued a ruling suspending attorney Israel D. Weinstein from practicing law for five years due to misconduct related to his escrow account.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Israel D. Weinstein,” with case no. 2021-07862.

According to the filing, the Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts had filed a verified petition against Weinstein on October 28, 2021, containing four charges of professional misconduct related to his escrow account. Weinstein maintained an attorney escrow account at JP Morgan Chase Bank in furtherance of his representation of The Federal Savings Bank.

The petition alleged that between May 2018 and December 2018, Weinstein engaged in a pattern of misappropriating client funds that were required to be held in his escrow account for various real estate transactions. On multiple occasions, the balance in the escrow account fell far below the amounts Weinstein was supposed to be maintaining.

Two of the charges specifically alleged that in September 2018 and December 2018, Weinstein disbursed funds from the escrow account through checks without having corresponding deposits to cover the amounts. An additional charge claimed Weinstein misappropriated $500,000 from the escrow account by transferring it to another law firm on October 16, 2019.

The final charge asserted that Weinstein failed to maintain proper bookkeeping records for the escrow account as required. Weinstein admitted some of the factual allegations but denied wrongdoing. The matter was referred to a Special Referee, who conducted a hearing on June 23, 2022, and sustained all four charges in a report issued on October 14, 2022.

In its November 2023 opinion, the Appellate Division confirmed the Special Referee’s report and findings. The court suspended Weinstein for five years effective December 29, 2023. Weinstein will not be eligible to apply for reinstatement until June 2028. The court found that Weinstein abdicated his fiduciary responsibilities over the escrow account by failing to independently reconcile funds or monitor transactions. Weinstein claimed other attorneys had primary control over the account records and transactions. However, the court was not persuaded by Weinstein’s defenses and imposed a five-year suspension.

The Disposition states:

“ORDERED that the respondent, Israel D. Weinstein, admitted as Israel Dov Weinstein, is suspended from the practice of law for a period of five years, commencing December 29, 2023, and continuing until further order of this Court. The respondent shall not apply for reinstatement earlier than June 29, 2028.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Israel is an attorney in Cedarhurst, New York. He attended the Fordham University School of Law. He acquired his law license in New York in 2016.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.