On Monday, July 10, 2023, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers of the Supreme Judicial Court proposes to suspend David C. Newton for two years for conduct involving dishonesty.
The case is titled ‘Bar Counsel v. D avid C. Newton,’ with case number C1-19-259401.
Attorney Newton is being charged with violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) and (h), Rules 8.1(a) and (b), and8.4(d), (g) and (h) which provide regulations for:
Conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
Conduct reflecting adversely on fitness to practice law;
Knowing false statements of material fact in a disciplinary matter;
Omission of material fact or fail to respond to request for information from disciplinary authority;
Conduct prejudicial to administration of justice.
The Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct can be viewed here.
The matter stemmed from Attorney Newton’s pilferage of more than $20,000 from his law firm’s bank account.
The partners in the law firm where Attorney Newton was previously an associate, agreed on equally sharing the net profit of the firm and to likewise use the firm’s credit card for both business and personal charges under the agreement to reimburse the card for their personal expenses on a monthly basis. Attorney Newton was in charge of the Operating Account and the credit card payments.
Between October 2015 and April 2017, Attorney Newton made unauthorized withdrawals from the Operating Account, withdrawing for himself an amount which is more than what is due him and more than what his partners received. Additionally, Attorney Newton failed to reimburse his partners for his personal expenditures using the firm’s credit card.
It was a gamble Attorney Newton would not win.
Running out of luck, Attorney Newton’s misappropriation was uncovered by his partners. A total of $20,478.35 was found to have been stolen from the firm’s account, excluding the personal expenses Attorney Newton had charged to the firm’s credit card. In the ensuing confrontation, Newton admitted his misconduct and eventually paid $20,000 as Newton and his partners had agreed by leaving in the firm’s account payments due him when he was still a partner.
Notwithstanding the payment, Newton’s former partners filed a complaint against him in June 2019. During the investigation, the hearing committee noted that Attorney Newton’s responses and claims were strewn with lies and misstatements, even during an examination under oath. A particular focus during the investigation was centered on Newton’s self-confessed addiction to gambling.
In the hearing, Attorney Newton made no attempt to deny the allegations. Instead, he argued that his addiction to gambling should be taken as a mitigating factor but was denied. So were the other proffered mitigating factors and the one testimony supporting Newton’s arguments. On the contrary, the committee found aggravating factors, such as Attorney Newton’s substantial legal experience and lack of sincerity in all stages of the proceedings.
The hearing committee recommends that Attorney Newton’s license be suspended for fifteen months.
After poring over the report and findings of the hearing committee, the Bar Overseers had reached a conclusion to file an Information in County Court with the recommendation that Attorney David Newton be suspended for a period of two years.
The recommendation reads:
“Information shall be filed in the County Court, recommending that the respondent’s license to practice law in the commonwealth be suspended for two years.”
A dissent signed by Justice Ernest L. Sarason, Jr., accompanies the recommendation where Justice Sarason expressed his opinion on the matter of restitution – that it should be taken as a factor in mitigation considering that the restituted amount was the agreed amount. Justice Sarason likewise questioned the cited case to be not on point. He also gave credence to the respondent’s admittance and acknowledgment of what he did. Hence he pushed for a 15-month suspension for Attorney David C. Newton.
Attorney David C. Newton earned his law degree from Boston University School of Law. Before he became a lawyer, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps for five years. More of Attorney Newton’s bio can be found here.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.