ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE
This is an original uncontested proceeding in discipline filed by the Disciplinary Administrator against the respondent, Troy W. Purinton, an attorney admitted to the practice of law in Kansas in 1999. His last registered address is Wichita. His last known residential address is in Baltimore, Maryland.
A panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys conducted a formal hearing as required by Kansas Supreme Court Rule 211 (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 284). Respondent did not appear. The panel concluded that the respondent had violated KRPC 1.15(a) (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 435) (safekeeping property); KRPC 8.4(c) (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 510) (misconduct); Supreme Court Rule 207(b) (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 268) (failure to respond to complaint); and Rule 211(b) (2006 Kan. Ct. R. Annot. 284) (failure to file answer to formal complaint). The panel unanimously recommended that the respondent be indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in the state of Kansas. The respondent has filed no exceptions to the final hearing report and did not appear at the hearing before us.
As found by the panel, the charges in this case arose out of respondent's conduct as an associate attorney with the Wichita firm of Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, L.L.C. In early 2005, a client sent the respondent a $400 check for a retainer and a $300 check for attorney fees. The respondent did not deposit these funds into the firm's trust account or operating account, but instead, cashed the checks and converted the funds to his personal use. Subsequent events, as found by the panel, are as follows:
"6. In February, 2005, and March, 2005, Stephen E. Robison began to suspect that the Respondent was not completing work assigned. On Saturday, March 5, 2005, the Executive Committee of Fleeson, Gooing discussed the Respondent's billable hours, the status of assignments, and complaints made by clients. The Executive Committee sought advice from Susan Selvidge, an attorney with Fleeson, Gooing, who practices employment law. Ms. Selvidge recommended to the Executive Committee that the firm terminate the Respondent on Monday, March 8, 2005. The Executive Committee agreed and requested that Ms. Selvidge terminate the Respondent's employment.
"7. On March 7, 2005, Ms. Selvidge terminated the Respondent's employment with the firm. Thereafter, Ms. Selvidge worked to distribute the cases the Respondent had been assigned. In so doing, Ms. Selvidge came across Mr. Cummings' file. An attorney from the firm called Mr. Cummings to determine the status of the case. At that time, Mr. Cummings informed the attorney calling that he had paid the Respondent $700 for the representation.
"8. Ms. Selvidge and employees in the accounting department of the firm attempted to find a record of the payment made by Mr. Cummings. According to the firm's records, no payment had been received from Mr. Cummings.
"9. On March 8, 2006, Ms. Selvidge spoke with the Respondent by telephone. Ms. Selvidge asked the Respondent about the checks that Mr. Cummings forwarded for payment of attorney fees. The Respondent initially denied any wrongdoing. During the telephone conversation, the Respondent stated that he cashed the checks and left the cash in an envelope in the accounting department of the firm.
"10. On March 9, 2005, Ms. Selvidge forwarded a complaint to the Disciplinary Administrator's office.
"11. On March 10, 2005, the Respondent forwarded a letter of apology to the law firm. In the letter of apology, the Respondent admitted misappropriating Mr. Cummings' money.
"12. David Rapp, Chairman of the Wichita Ethics and Grievance Committee appointed Mitchell Herren to investigate Ms. Selvidge's complaint lodged against the Respondent. Mr. Rapp wrote to the Respondent, informed him that Mr. Herren had been appointed to investigate, and requested that the Respondent respond to the complaint in writing.
"13. Thereafter, Mr. Herren repeatedly contacted the Respondent by letter, phone, and electronic mail, seeking a written response to the initial complaint. On June 30, 2005, the Respondent sent Mr. Herren an electronic message apologizing for the late response and promising to provide a new telephone number. Also in the electronic message, the Respondent stated that he admitted his wrongdoing to the law firm and that he would like to present mitigating circumstances.
"14. Mr. Herren then waited for the Respondent to provide a new telephone number. However, the Respondent did not do so. Again, Mr. Herren tried to contact him. Mr. Herren called the Respondent's mobile telephone number. According to the message that Mr. Herren heard, the mobile telephone number was 'Troy's.' The Respondent did not again contact Mr. Herren regarding the disciplinary investigation.
"15. On August 24, 2006, the Formal Complaint and Notice of Hearing were filed. On that date, the Disciplinary Administrator's office sent a copy of the Formal Complaint and Notice of Hearing to the Respondent via certified mail and regular mail to the Respondent's last registration address (the Fleeson, Gooing law firm). The certified mailing sent to the Respondent's last registration address was returned. The regular mailing was not returned.
"16. In addition to sending a copy of the Formal Complaint and Notice of Hearing via certified mail to the Respondent's last registration address, the Disciplinary Administrator's office also sent a copy of the Formal Complaint and Notice of Hearing to the Respondent via certified mail and regular mail, to the Respondent's residential address in Baltimore, Maryland. The certified mailing sent to the ...