In the Matter of Martin S. Malinou.
Petitioner: Barbara Margolis, Esq. Deputy Disciplinary
Respondent: Martin Malinou, Pro Se.
Suttell, C.J., Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.
attorney discipline matter came before the Court at its
conference on October 18, 2017. On September 26, 2017, this
Court's Disciplinary Board (board) forwarded to the Court
a decision and recommendation that the respondent, Martin S.
Malinou, be suspended from the practice of law for a minimum
of ninety days and that he not be reinstated until such time
as he deposits the sum of $33, 107.33 into the Registry of
the Superior Court.
III, Rule 6(d) of the Supreme Court Rules of Disciplinary
Procedure provides, in pertinent part:
"If the [Disciplinary] Board determines that a
proceeding should be *** concluded by public censure,
suspension or disbarment, it shall submit its findings and
recommendations, together with the entire record, to this
Court. This Court shall review the record and enter an
directed the respondent to show cause, if any, why we should
not impose the discipline recommended by the board. Having
heard the representations of the respondent and this
Court's Disciplinary Counsel and having reviewed the
record, we deem that cause has not been shown, and we adopt
the board's recommendation.
relevant facts as determined by the board are as follows. Ida
and Yolanda D'Amore were elderly sisters residing in a
nursing home in Cranston, Rhode Island. On February 13, 2014,
a petition to appoint temporary guardians was filed in the
Cranston probate court alleging that the sisters were no
longer competent to handle their personal and financial
affairs. On February 18, 2014, the court entered an order
appointing Donald M. D'Amore and Barbara H. Neri to serve
as temporary co-guardians over the person and the estate of
both D'Amore sisters, and the matter was continued to
determine whether the appointment of the temporary
co-guardians should become permanent.
respondent entered his appearance in the probate court
proceedings and filed an objection to the appointment of the
co-guardians, purportedly acting on behalf of both Ida and
Yolanda. After a hearing on March 8, 2014, the court entered
an order continuing the temporary guardianship in effect and
authorizing the parties to engage in discovery to determine
the financial affairs of the D'Amores. On April 19, 2014,
the respondent became aware that an account existed at a
local bank that was jointly titled to both D'Amores and
an unrelated third party. That account contained a
substantial amount of money. The respondent did not notify
the co-guardians or the probate court of the existence of
this account. On May 12, 2014, the account was closed by that
third party, and the proceeds of that account, $133, 107.33,
were delivered to the respondent, payable to him, in the form
of a treasurer's check. The respondent deposited those
funds into his client's account, which at that time
contained only a nominal amount of money. The respondent did
not advise the co-guardians or the probate court that these
funds had come into his possession.
co-guardians became aware of the existence of this account as
a result of a subpoena issued to the bank during the course
of discovery. After a hearing held before the probate court
on June 26, 2014, the probate court entered an order
appointing Donald M. D'Amore and Barbara H. Neri as
permanent guardians of the person and estate of both Ida and
Yolanda, and it authorized the guardians to recover all funds
in the respondent's possession belonging to the
D'Amores, including but not limited to the $133, 107.33
that was in his client account. Additionally, the probate
court entered an order disqualifying the respondent from
continuing to represent Ida and Yolanda. The respondent
requested that the court stay the order but his request was
denied. He did not deliver the funds in his possession to the
respondent, still purportedly acting on behalf of Ida and
Yolanda, filed an appeal to the Superior Court. At a hearing
before the Superior Court on March 26, 2015, the respondent
represented to the court that those funds remained in his
client account and that he was not claiming any ownership
interest in those funds. His representation was not true.
Beginning in May of 2014, and continuing until June of 2015,
the respondent made periodic withdrawals from the account in
$1, 000 increments, payable to himself, which he then used
for his own purposes.
5, 2015, the Superior Court entered an order compelling the
respondent to deposit $133, 107.33 into the Registry of
Court. On May 28, 2015, he deposited $100, 000 into the
Registry of Court, and he claimed that he had withheld the
remainder of the funds as fees owed to him by Ida and
October 23, 2015, the Superior Court found the respondent to
be in contempt of its order of May 5, 2015, and ordered him
to deposit $33, 107.33 into the Registry of Court on or
before October 30, 2015. The order further imposed a $100 per
day penalty for each day after October 30, 2015 that the
respondent failed to deposit the funds. As of the date of
this order, the respondent has not deposited the funds into
the Registry of Court.
determining these facts, the board concluded that the
respondent's conduct is in violation of Article V, Rule
1.15 of the Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule
1.15, entitled ...