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In re Disciplinary Proceedings MacLean

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

June 3, 2016

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Matthew S. MacLean, Attorney at Law: Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,
v.
Matthew S. MacLean, Respondent

          Attorney's license suspended.

          OPINION

          ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding.

          PER CURIAM.

          [¶1] We review the report and recommendation of Referee Richard C. Ninneman that the license of Attorney Matthew S. MacLean be suspended for two years for professional misconduct and that Attorney MacLean pay the full costs of this proceeding, which are $3,573.11 as of January 28, 2016. The referee also recommends that, during the period of his suspension, Attorney MacLean continue participation in the Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) monitoring program.

          [¶2] After careful review of this matter, we adopt the referee's findings of fact and conclusions of law. We agree with the referee that a two-year suspension of Attorney MacLean's license is an appropriate sanction for his misconduct. We further agree that the full costs of the proceeding should be assessed against the attorney, and we also agree that Attorney MacLean should be required to continue participation in the WisLAP monitoring program during the term of his suspension.

          [¶3] Attorney MacLean was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1998. He has no prior disciplinary history. He is not

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currently practicing law and the State Bar of Wisconsin lists his license status as " inactive."

          [¶4] On July 17, 2015, the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) filed a complaint alleging that Attorney MacLean committed four counts of misconduct. The complaint alleged that between June 1999 and March 2006, Attorney MacLean was employed by the law firm of Michael, Best & Friedrich, LLP, first as an associate and later as a contract partner. In 2006, Attorney MacLean became the general counsel and chief compliance officer for the investment firm Red Granite Advisors, LLC (Red Granite). In late 2011, Red Granite was acquired by Ziegler Lotsoff Capital Management, LLC (Ziegler). Red Granite continued as the wholly owned subsidiary of Ziegler. During Attorney MacLean's employment with Red Granite, he had access to and maintained the accounts payable records for the company.

          [¶5] The complaint alleged that between March 2006 and December 2014, Michael, Best & Friedrich sublet office space and several parking spaces at its Milwaukee location to Red Granite pursuant to a written sublease agreement. The complaint further alleged that in 2010, BrickStix LLC (BrickStix) was formed to commercialize a product designed by Attorney MacLean's minor son. The complaint further alleged that Attorney MacLean drafted the Articles of Organization for BrickStix, which listed Attorney MacLean, his wife, and another man as the organizing members.

          [¶6] In January 2011, Attorney MacLean and his wife opened a checking account at Park Bank, titled in the name of BrickStix. Attorney MacLean wrote out substantially all of the deposits to and checks from the BrickStix account. The complaint alleged that Attorney MacLean failed to clearly and consistently keep the finances and credit card accounts associated with businesses in which he was involved separate and distinct from other businesses and from his and his family's personal finances.

          [¶7] The OLR's complaint further alleged that between March 2006 and September 2013, Attorney MacLean misappropriated more than $450,000 belonging to Red Granite and/or Ziegler. The complaint alleged that to facilitate and/or hide his misappropriation of funds from Red Granite and/or Ziegler, Attorney MacLean obtained a lock box and caused payments due from Red Granite and/or Ziegler to Michael, Best & Friedrich to be directed to the lock box, and he created and caused fraudulent invoices purporting to be from Michael, Best & Friedrich to be presented to Red Granite and Ziegler. The complaint alleged that Attorney MacLean caused checks to be issued by Red Granite or Ziegler payable to Attorney MacLean, BrickStix, or third parties, but falsely identified the checks in Red Granite's and Ziegler's accounts payable records as being payable to a legitimate vendor, including Michael, Best & Friedrich.

          [¶8] The complaint alleged that Attorney MacLean caused BrickStix to use more than $5,000 of misappropriated funds to pay BrickStix's expenses. In the summer of 2012, Attorney MacLean approached Ziegler's chief operating officer, S.R., about S.R. purchasing a membership interest in BrickStix, because BrickStix required additional capital, including funds for production and patent expenses. Between July 2012 and March 2013, in furtherance of inducing S.R. to purchase a membership interest in BrickStix, Attorney MacLean provided S.R. with inaccurate and misleading information about ...


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