On Friday, January 12, 2024, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order suspending Jesse M. Cohen from practicing law in Pennsylvania for four years. The suspension was made retroactive to September 8, 2022, and came as the result of Cohen’s guilty plea to federal charges of mail and wire fraud.
The order stems from a joint petition filed with the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and Cohen himself. In the petition, Cohen admitted to engaging in misconduct and violating the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct.
Specifically, Cohen acknowledged that from June 2018 through July 2020, he conspired with his former law firm partner Scott Diamond to divert over $319,000 in legal fees and cost reimbursements owed to their firm, Sacks Weston Diamond LLC. Cohen and Diamond accomplished this fraud by arranging for insurance companies and other payors to make checks payable to Diamond’s shell company rather than the law firm. They also at times intercepted payment envelopes before the firm’s bookkeeper could process them.
Once Diamond obtained the misdirected payments, he deposited them into bank accounts he controlled and then shared the stolen funds equally with Cohen by issuing checks to him. For some matters, the pair also failed to reimburse the firm for incurred costs, further concealing their scheme and wrongly keeping additional money.
In July 2022, Cohen pled guilty in federal court to one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud. He faced a maximum combined penalty of 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, and $200 in special assessments. However, due to Cohen’s extensive cooperation with prosecutors, the government filed a motion requesting a sentencing reduction.
At his March 2023 sentencing hearing, a federal prosecutor praised the “phenomenal” assistance Cohen provided. He made recorded phone calls with Diamond that helped investigators “develop substantial evidence” and allowed them to secure Diamond’s own guilty plea. Cohen also continued regularly aiding the investigation up until his hearing.
Given this cooperation, as well as restitution already paid, the court sentenced Cohen only to three years of probation. As part of the agreed-upon disciplinary action, the Supreme Court has now suspended his law license for four years, retroactive to the date of his initial temporary suspension.
Cohen will have the opportunity to seek reinstatement to the bar after completing the term of his suspension, provided he can demonstrate rehabilitation.
According to Avvo, Mr. Cohen is an insurance attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Widener University School of Law in 2004 and obtained his law license in Pennsylvania in the same year.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.