The District of Columbia Court of Appeals today approved the 90-day suspension of a former U.S. Department of Treasury lawyer who pleaded guilty to stealing neckties from a high-end Virginia department store.
Albert Zarate, a member of the D.C. Bar since 1995, pleaded guilty in Fairfax County Circuit Court to attempting to steal "seven or eight" neckties from a Nordstrom department store in December 2009, according to court filings. The District's attorney disciplinary body found that Zarate's actions didn't involve moral turpitude, and negotiated the 90-day suspension with him.
In an order (PDF) published this morning, a three-judge appellate panel agreed that Zarate's case didn't involve moral turpitude and approved the 90-day suspension. The suspension was effective from December 2010, meaning he's already served the time.
Zarate could not be reached today for comment. According to filings from the D.C. Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility, Zarate was transferred to a non-attorney position within the Treasury Department in light of the case.
A May 2012 report by a hearing committee of the board showed that members took into consideration insight from mental health professionals that Zarate's actions were directly related to the depression he suffered after his divorce.
"To his credit, Respondent quickly sought professional help and has taken steps to make sure that his mental health receives the attention and care that it deserves," the committee noted in its report. "In light of this, there is simply no indication that he is at a risk of reoffending or of engaging in similar conduct in the future."