Tax Lawyer Disbarred; the Details are Juicy, Indeed

by : Gary E Rosenberg

Matter of James P. Colliton (First Dept.; Admitted to Bar: 1989). Discipline imposed: Disbarred

This one ends with a whimper, rather than a bang.

Attorney Colliton worked at the top law firm of Cravath Swaine & Moore, earning, like, half-a-mil ($500,000) a year. He had a wife and kids upstate in Poughkeepsie, and spent his days perusing the complexities of our tax laws.

Colliton, age 39, had a taste for underage girls. You may remember this case from the newspapers. Arrested in September, 2006, Colliton claimed that the two teenage sisters that he had sex with, aged 13 and 15, were imped to him by their mother.

Before he could be arrested, he tried to run away. He ran to Toronto, Canada, but was released due to a communication foul up. He fled back to Manhattan.

Finally, he was arrested alone in his room at a flea bag hotel in Manhattan. This criminal mastermind made the desk clerk suspicious when he tried to register under two different names.

He was recognized, and the cops called.

According to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, Colliton was carrying identification in the name of "James Sullivan," and "had a bag with a lot of cash in it and a lot of American Express gift cards."

Finally, as related by the Departmental Disciplinary Committee:

On October 2, 2007, respondent [Colliton] pleaded guilty in Supreme Court, New York County, to rape in the second degree in violation of Penal Law § 130.30(1), a class D felony, and to patronizing a prostitute in the third degree in violation of Penal Law § 230.04, a class A misdemeanor, in full satisfaction of Indictment No. 0861-2006. On that same day, respondent also pleaded guilty to rape in the third degree in violation of Penal Law § 130.25(2), a class E felony, in full satisfaction of Indictment No. 1748-2006. The charges to which respondent pled guilty alleged that he engaged in sexual intercourse with a person who was less than 15 years old and a person who was less than 17 years old, and that he patronized a prostitute who was less than 17 years old. On October 11, 2007, respondent was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of one year on each charge, to be served concurrently, and was required to register as a sex offender.

And the case ends with a whimper: Upon conviction of a felony, Colliton was automatically disbarred, and so holds the Departmental Disciplinary Committee.

Commentary: This rather dry opinion marks the end to a high-paying legal career. It being well known that prison is particularly tough for child molesters, one can only wonder as to how tough prison will be for a child-molesting tax attorney.