On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, the Supreme Court of New Jersey disbarred attorney Edwyn D. Macelus after finding that he had knowingly misappropriated escrow funds in violation of rules of professional conduct.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Edwyn D. Macelus,” with case no. 087485.

The order for Macelus’ disbarment adopted the recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board, which found clear and convincing evidence that he had violated RPC 1.15(a) by knowingly misappropriating over $8,400 in escrow funds belonging to South Orange Chiropractic Center that had been deposited in his trust account. The Board also determined Macelus had violated RPC 1.15(b) by failing to promptly deliver those funds to the chiropractic center, as well as RPC 8.4(c) by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty.

The underlying misconduct stems from an incident in 2017 when Macelus was retained by a client, Atlandtis Everett, regarding an unpaid medical bill owed to South Orange Chiropractic Center. On February 24th of that year, Everett’s insurance company issued two checks totaling $8,476.36 made payable to the chiropractic center and sent them to Macelus to deposit in his attorney trust account.

The Disciplinary Review Board found that rather than maintaining those funds intact until the medical debt was settled, Macelus proceeded to make several unauthorized withdrawals from the trust account, including a $500 withdrawal on March 9th that he claimed was approved to reimburse a partial payment already made by his client. However, testimony from a paralegal at South Orange Chiropractic Center’s law firm contradicted Macelus’ assertion that he had permission for any disbursements.

Perhaps most problematic was Macelus’ $7,900 withdrawal on March 13th of the chiropractic center’s money, for which bank records showed at least part of the funds were destined for another party rather than held safely in trust. Macelus was unable to produce documentation proving the $7,900 was used as intended.

Over a year later in May 2018, Macelus made several cash deposits totaling over $8,400 to his trust account only after the chiropractic center had filed a grievance against him. This allowed him to finally issue the $8,476.36 payment owed, but the Board concluded these late actions showed he was aware all along that the majority of funds entrusted to him had been converted elsewhere.

In defending himself, Macelus claimed his mishandling of the trust account was due to inexperience and failure to understand proper record-keeping requirements rather than any intent to steal. However, the Board discounted this explanation, pointing to Macelus’ background in financial compliance work that demonstrated his understanding of fiduciary responsibility over entrusted monies.

Ultimately, the Disciplinary Review Board unanimously recommended disbarment based on Macelus’ knowing misappropriation of escrow funds. In issuing the disbarment order, the Supreme Court endorsed this decision, stripping Macelus of his law license and prohibiting him from practicing law going forward.

Mr. Macelus practices in Edgewater, New Jersey. He is licensed in New Jersey. His info can be found on lawyer.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.