OPINION OF THE COURT
Respondent Bjorn Jeffery Holubar was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the Second Judicial Department on December 17, 1997. At all times relevant to the misconduct which underlies this proceeding, he maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Judicial Department.
Between July 2009 and November 2009, respondent became the subject of seven separate and unrelated complaints, each alleging professional misconduct. Two of these complaints were initiated sua sponte by the Departmental Disciplinary Committee (Committee) and the other five were filed by respondent's former clients.
The first complaint dated July 29, 2009 alleged that respondent engaged in frivolous conduct inasmuch as he initiated two separate law suits, each sounding in defamation, which had no basis in law nor fact thereby resulting in sanctions. The second complaint dated August 10, 2009 alleged that respondent, inter alia, unlawfully deposited client funds into his business operating account rather than into his IOLA account and that he then used those funds for personal expenses.
With respect to the remaining five complaints, all made by respondent's clients, we need only discuss the first. On July 21, 2009, Fritz Solberg (Solberg), respondent's former client, made a complaint to the Committee against respondent. In his complaint, Solberg alleged that he retained respondent to aid him in prosecuting a patent. Solberg paid respondent $3,500 but thereafter decided that he no longer wished to pursue the patent. Respondent agreed to refund a portion of Solberg's fee, but despite numerous telephone calls over the course of several months, respondent never refunded any of Solberg's money. Solberg sued respondent in the District Court of Suffolk County, First District, and was awarded judgment against the respondent in the sum of $3,082.19. Solberg's complaint was accompanied by a copy of the judgment against respondent.
Based on these complaints, the Committee initiated an investigation, providing respondent with copies of each complaint and requesting written explanations. Despite the Committee's initial correspondence and numerous voice messages, respondent did not answer any of the complaints. On
The Committee now petitions this Court for an order pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.4 (e) (1), immediately suspending respondent from the practice of law pending further order of this Court on grounds that respondent's failure to comply with the Committee's multiple requests, related to its investigation of complaints made against respondent, constitutes professional misconduct which threatens the public interest (22 NYCRR 603.4 [e]  [i]). The Committee seeks respondent's immediate suspension on the additional ground that respondent's refusal to satisfy a debt owed to a prior client, the debt evinced by a judgment, constitutes professional misconduct which also threatens the public interest (22 NYCRR 603.4 [e]  [iv]).
Pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.4 (e) (1),
Misconduct will be found when the attorney fails "to comply with any lawful demand of this court or the Departmental Disciplinary Committee made in connection with any investigation,
Thus, failure to comply with the Committee's demands made in connection with an investigation is grounds for immediate suspension from the practice of law (Matter of Burke, 54 A.D.3d 70, 74-75 ; Matter of Fish, 57 A.D.3d 112, 113-114 ; Matter of Stewart, 50 A.D.3d 247, 249 ; Matter of Lefrak, 46 A.D.3d 56, 58-59 ; Matter of Zimmerman, 45 A.D.3d 212, 214 ; Matter of McClain-Sewer, 39 A.D.3d 35, 36 ; Matter of Spiegler, 33 A.D.3d 187, 189-190 ; Matter of Muri, 303 A.D.2d 86, 87 ; Matter of Gordon, 142 A.D.2d 135, 137 ). This is especially true when the failure to comply is persistent since such behavior evinces willful noncompliance (McClain-Sewer at 36; Spiegler at 190), a shocking disregard for the judicial system and the Committee's investigation (Burke at 75; Fish at 113-114; Lefrak at 59; Muri at 87; Gordon at 137), and an attempt to impede the Committee's investigation (Fish at 114; Gordon at 137).
Similarly, immediate suspension is also warranted when it is demonstrated that despite a money judgment, an attorney has refused to pay money owed to a client (Fish at 114; Stewart at 249; Matter of Singer, 301 A.D.2d 336, 337 ; Matter of Harley, 293 A.D.2d 131, 136 ).
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that respondent, in shocking disregard to the Committee's investigation, has engaged in conduct evincing willful noncompliance designed to impede the Committee's efforts. Despite the Committee's repeated attempts to exact compliance with its demands, e.g., letters, telephone calls, e-mails and a subpoena, respondent has at best strung the Committee along, promising compliance but never actually providing the same. Thus, the Committee's application seeking respondent's immediate suspension is granted (22 NYCRR 603.4 [e]  [i]). Moreover, inasmuch as respondent has refused to pay a debt owed to his former client, said debt evinced by a judgment obtained against respondent, he is guilty of additional professional misconduct which threatens the public interest and his immediate suspension is thus warranted (22 NYCRR 603.4 [e]  [iv]).
Accordingly, the petition should be granted pursuant to 22 NYCRR 603.4 (e) (1) (i) and (iv), and respondent is suspended
Respondent suspended from the practice of law in the State of New York, effective the date hereof, until such time as disciplinary matters pending before the Committee have been concluded and until further order of this Court.