|For immediate release||October 8, 2014|
Former lawyer admits to professional misconduct, cannot apply for reinstatement for another four years
Vancouver – Former Vancouver real estate lawyer Raffaele Crescenzo has admitted to professional misconduct for misappropriation of client funds. Crescenzo admitted to his misconduct in September 2009, and the Law Society took immediate regulatory action to protect the public. Upon his admission, Crescenzo signed an undertaking to cease practice during the investigation and consented to the appointment of a custodian. He has not practised law since. His admission is outlined in an agreed statement of facts.
Between 2006 and 2009, Crescenzo took funds in the total amount of $156,309.85 held in trust on behalf of his clients. In situations of lawyer theft, the Lawyers Insurance Fund ensures that members of the public receive the compensation to which they are entitled. The Lawyers Insurance Fund ultimately paid out $185,575 in relation to his conduct, including the circumstances described in the agreed statement of facts, ensuring that every person who made a claim has been compensated.
The Discipline Committee believes the misconduct in this case is very serious, and their decision states that Crescenzo will not be eligible to apply for reinstatement with the Law Society until September 25, 2018.
If he chooses to apply at that time, he will have to convince a credentials hearing panel that he is fit to practise and is of good repute. The Discipline Committee believes the minimum nine years Crescenzo will not have practised, together with the future oversight of the Credentials Committee, properly protects the public.
Crescenzo’s admission was accepted under Law Society Rule 4-21. This rule provides for a process whereby a lawyer can admit misconduct without a hearing. Throughout the time Crescenzo misappropriated the funds, he, his wife and adolescent son suffered severe medical conditions. The Discipline Committee does not accept that medical conditions, whether suffered by him or family members, in any way excuse his actions, but the serious medical issues are mitigating circumstances that contributed to the committee’s decision to accept the admission of misconduct under Rule 4-21.
The Law Society of British Columbia regulates the more than 11,000 practising lawyers in the province, setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct that ensure the public is well-served by a competent, honourable legal profession.
For further information contact: