A second New York attorney caught in a money-laundering sting operation reported by 60 Minutes has agreed to, and received, public censure.
The CBS program caused a stir in the New York legal community in January 2016 when it reported on an undercover probe by anticorruption advocacy group Global Witness.
Lawyers in 13 different New York law firms met with an investigator posing as a German lawyer who represented a West African mining minister.
The minister wanted to buy a brownstone, a jet plane, and yacht with money whose origins were questionable. Only one lawyer immediately declined the representation during the meeting. But some were willing to discuss it and even offer suggestions.
Here, attorney Marc S. Koplik admitted to violating New York Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(d), which bars lawyers from assisting in illegal conduct, and Rule 8.4(h), which relates to engaging in conduct adversely reflecting on a lawyer’s fitness to practice law, according to the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division.
Koplik and representatives of the Attorney Grievance Committee agreed there were mitigating factors, the court said in its Jan. 15 opinion.
Those included “the fact that the misconduct was aberrational and occurred in the context of a single, open-ended conversation during a meeting with a potential client after which respondent took no further steps,” the court said.
Similar facts led to the same outcome for attorney John H. Jankoff in September 2018.
David Gendelman represented Koplik.
The case is Matter of Koplik, N.Y. App. Div., No. M-4179M-5384, 1/15/19.