We have previously written about attorney Michael Kwasnik’s legal troubles. Mr. Kwasnik is facing charges that he stole over $1 million from clients. The total amount of his alleged theft has been raised to $1.3 million, and he was indicted on Tuesday for new charges of theft by failure to make required disposition of property received, misapplication of entrusted property, and money laundering, all in the second degree. Mr. Kwasnik is also a party to civil lawsuit brought by the New Jersey attorney general charging him, his father and others with a fraudulent scheme in which 73 mostly elderly investors lost $8.5 million.
Mr. Kwasnik has incurred the full wrath of the criminal justice system. “When people hire a lawyer, they typically are looking for a professional they can trust to guide them through matters beyond their own sphere of knowledge – often matters involving high financial stakes,” said Director Stephen J. Taylor of the Division of Criminal Justice. “When a lawyer takes advantage of that trust to steal, as we allege Kwasnik did, the results can be devastating.”
It is important to remember that malpractice avoidance and professional liability avoidance requires attorneys avoid stealing from their clients. Not only will it lead to criminal charges, but it can also lead to disciplinary action under Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and civil lawsuits with charges of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty.