Submitted: February 18, 2015.
Appellate Case No. 2015-000036.
Lesley M. Coggiola, Disciplinary Counsel, and Joseph P. Turner, Jr., Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
James Emerson Smith, Jr., of James E. Smith Jr., PA, of Columbia, for Respondent.
TOAL, C.J., PLEICONES, BEATTY, KITTREDGE and HEARN, JJ., concur.
[411 S.C. 457] PER CURIAM:
In this attorney disciplinary matter, respondent and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel have entered into an Agreement for Discipline by Consent (Agreement) pursuant to Rule 21 of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement (RLDE) contained in Rule 413 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules (SCACR). In the Agreement, respondent admits misconduct and consents to the imposition of a definite suspension of no less than six (6) to no more than nine (9) months. He [411 S.C. 458] requests the suspension be imposed retroactively to May 15, 2014, the date of his interim suspension. In the Matter of Givens, 408 S.C. 181, 758 S.E.2d 505 (2014). In addition, respondent agrees to complete the Legal Ethics and Practice Program Ethics School within one (1) year of the imposition of a sanction. We accept the Agreement and suspend respondent from the practice of law in this state for nine (9) months, retroactive to the date of his interim suspension. The facts, as set forth in the Agreement, are as follows.
On May 13, 2014, respondent entered a plea in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina Columbia Division in which he admitted to committing misprision of a felony in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 4. Respondent admitted he had actual knowledge that a federal felony had been committed by another person and that he failed to timely disclose the information to a federal law enforcement officer and affirmatively, actively, and deliberately concealed this information.
The criminal information states that, beginning in or around the summer of 2011 and continuing up to on or about January 13, 2012, respondent had actual knowledge of the commission of federal felony offenses involving the solicitation and receipt of kickbacks
by J.P. and the payment of kickbacks by E.R. in connection with the 2011 South Carolina State University homecoming concert and that he failed to disclose this knowledge and took affirmative steps to conceal this information from federal law enforcement agents investigating the matter, both prior to and during a November 14, 2011 interview with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
On October 3, 2014, respondent was sentenced to probation for a term of six months and given probation credit beginning with the date of his plea on May 13, 2014. Respondent has completed the probation.
Respondent has accepted full responsibility for his conduct, self-reported the matter to ODC, and fully cooperated with the Government in its prosecution of the matter that gave rise to the criminal charges. The Government filed a motion for a downward departure based on respondent's exceptional cooperation. At respondent's sentencing, an Assistant United [411 S.C. 459] States Attorney described respondent as " extraordinarily accommodating, cordial, polite, ...