BEFORE THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR

DISCIPLINARY BOARD



In the Matter of David Thomas Steckler



VSB Docket No. 00-060-1972

ORDER



THIS MATTER came on to be heard on November 17, 2000, before a panel of the Disciplinary Board consisting of William M. Moffet, First Vice-chair, Randy I. Bellows, Chester J. Cahoon, Jr., Robert E. Eicher, and D. Stan Barnhill. The State Bar was represented by Barbara Ann Williams, Esq. The respondent, David Thomas Steckler ("Steckler"), after receiving due notice by certified mailing to the last address provided to the State Bar, failed to appear either in person or by counsel.

This matter came before the Board by direct certification from a subcommittee of the Sixth District Committee, pursuant to Part Six, Section IV, 13(B)(5)(c)(ii)(c) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

I. Findings of Fact

The Board makes the following findings of fact on the basis of clear and convincing evidence.

1. From April 26, 1983, until July 16, 1999, Steckler was an attorney licensed

and in good standing to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

2. Before July 8, 1999, Michael E. McShane ("McShane") hired Steckler to serve as settlement agent for McShane's home mortgage refinancing.

3. McShane picked up the closing papers (including a HUD settlement

statement that Steckler had already signed) at Steckler's office, took the papers home and signed them, then mailed the papers back to Steckler's office; McShane never met Steckler.

4. The HUD Settlement Statement dated July 8, 1999, directed Steckler as

settlement agent to make mortgage payoffs in the amount of $9,929.93 and $96,830.41, and to pay the borrower, McShane, $15,808.66.

5. On July 8, 1999, Steckler, or his employees, closed the refinancing and

deposited a loan disbursement check in the amount of $125,000.00, drawn on a NationsBank account and made payable to David T. Steckler & Michael McShane, in account number 7911345360, titled DAVID T. STECKLER ATTORNEY AT LAW TRUST ACCOUNT, at Wachovia Bank, formerly known as Central Fidelity Bank.

6. Check # 8080 in the amount of $15,808.66, drawn on Steckler's trust account, and made payable to McShane as payment for loan proceeds due to him as borrower, was issued on July 8, 1999, and deposited by McShane on July 20, 1999.

7. Check #8085 in the amount of $9,929.93, drawn on Steckler's trust account

and made payable to First Virginia Bank as payment in full of a mortgage loan to McShane, was issued on July 8, 1999, and deposited on July 19, 1999.

8. Check # 8086 in the amount of $96,830.41, drawn on Steckler's trust account

and made payable to NationsBank as payment in full of a mortgage loan to McShane, was issued on July 8, 1999.

9. Bank of America, which merged with NationsBank and accepts, processes and

endorses checks payable to NationsBank, received Check #8086 on July 15, 1999, and unsuccessfully attempted to deposit it on July 19, and again on July 23, 1999.

10. On or about July 27, 1999, Wachovia Bank returned Check #8086 to Bank of

America for non-sufficient funds.

11. After Bank of America made numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact Steckler about the returned check, on September 6, 1999, Steckler contacted Bank of America and indicated that he had been out of town and his trust account was "out of whack" due to the overpayment of a large amount of bank fees.

12. After Steckler failed to make Check #8086 good, by letter dated October

5, 1999, Bank of America made a claim in the amount of $96,830.41 against Bond #60936704 that CNA - Western Surety issued to Steckler as an attorney settlement agent.

13. On November 4, 1999, Western Surety Company issued a check for $96,830.41

to Bank of America, and as consideration for the payment, Bank of America assigned its claims against Steckler to Western Surety Company.

14. Western Surety Company hired Bonded Collections of Tucson, Inc., to collect the

missing funds from Steckler.

15. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact Steckler, Jamie G. Lynch,

Collection Manager for Bonded Collections of Tucson, filed a bar complaint against Steckler with the State Bar on or about February 4, 2000.

16. The State Bar's efforts to locate Steckler have been unsuccessful. He no longer is conducting business at the last known address he provided the State Bar, he has failed to respond to certified mail sent to that address, and his current or former spouse, a professor at Mary Washington College, has failed to respond to all inquires as to his whereabouts.

17. Pursuant to Part 6, Section IV, 13(C)(5) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Clerk of the Disciplinary Board gave Steckler written notice of the hearing before the Disciplinary Board scheduled for November 17, 2000, by letter dated August 21, 2000, sent to Steckler's last known address, 1301 Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, by certified mail return receipt requested.

II. Nature of Misconduct

The Board finds by clear and convincing evidence that the following Disciplinary Rules have been violated:

DR 1-102. Misconduct.

(A) A lawyer shall not:

(1) Violate a Disciplinary Rule or knowingly aid another to do so.

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DR 9-102. Preserving Identity of Funds and Property of a Client.



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(B) A lawyer shall:



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(4) Promptly pay or deliver to the client or another as requested by such person the funds, securities, or other properties in the possession of the lawyer which such person is entitled to receive.

 

III. Disposition



After review of the foregoing findings of misconduct, it is ORDERED that the license to practice law in the Courts of this Commonwealth heretofore issued to Respondent David Thomas Steckler be, and the same hereby is, revoked effective November 17, 2000, and that the name of David Thomas Steckler stricken from the roll of attorneys of this Commonwealth.

It is ORDERED pursuant to the provisions of Part Six, Section IV, 13(K)(1) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, that Respondent shall forthwith give notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, of revocation of his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia to all clients for whom he is currently handling matters and to all opposing attorneys and presiding judges in pending litigation. The Respondent shall also make appropriate arrangements for the disposition of matters then in his care in conformity with the wishes of his client. The Respondent shall give such notice within fourteen (14) days of the effective date of the revocation order and make such arrangements as are required herein within forty-five (45) days of the effective date of the revocation order. The Respondent shall furnish proof to the State Bar within sixty (60) days of the effective date of the revocation order that such notices have been timely given and such arrangement for the disposition of matters made. Issues concerning the adequacy of the notice and arrangements required herein shall be determined by the Disciplinary Board.

It is further ORDERED that Respondent shall furnish true copies of all of the notice letters sent to all persons notified of the revocation, with the original return receipts for said notice letters, to the Clerk of the Disciplinary System on or before sixty (60) days of the effective date of this revocation order.

Pursuant to Part Six, IV, 13(K)(10) of the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court, the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs.

It is further ORDERED that the Clerk of the Disciplinary System send a copy of this Order to David Thomas Steckler at his address of record with the Virginia State Bar, 1301 Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail, and that a copy be mailed to Barbara Ann Williams, Bar Counsel, Virginia State Bar, 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500, Richmond, VA.

On November 17, 2000, the Court Reporter reporting this matter was Donna Chandler, at Chandler & Halasz, Registered Professional Reporters, P. O. Box 9349, Richmond, VA 23227, 804/730-1222.

ENTERED this day of December, 2000.

VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD

By:

William M. Moffet

First Vice Chair