Power Broker Roy M. Cohn Disbarred
NEW YORK (AP) _ Roy M. Cohn, the flamboyant defense lawyer who first came to note at the side of communist-hunting Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, was disbarred by New York state on Monday for financial misconduct.
The order against Cohn was handed down by the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, which polices lawyers for the state and was effective immediately. Cohn is permitted to appeal, said Michael Gentile, spokesman for the state Bar Association.
″Simply stated, the four charges involved alleged dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation,″ the court wrote. ″After a thorough review of the record, we have come to the conclusion that all four charges should be sustained, and that respondent should be disbarred.″
A lawyers’ disciplinary committee, an arm of the appeals court, recommended Cohn’s disbarment a year ago over three cases dating to 1966. The court could have rejected the recommendation.
Last July, it was revealed the committee had found Cohn guilty of misconduct on three allegations:
- That he borrowed $100,000 from a client in 1966 but did not repay it until 1984, when the disciplinary hearings were under way.
- That he improperly used a $219,000 escrow fund established by a 1971 court order.
- That he reportedly submitted a false sworn statement about the disciplinary hearing while applying for a license to practice law in Washington.
The court also found Cohn guilty in a fourth case in which he was accused of misrepresenting documents to a dying millionaire in his hospital room to take over the man’s estate.
Cohn, 59, had scoffed at the charges against him last year, saying they would go ″no place. It’s not my nature to be intimidated by this bunch of yo- yos.″
Cohn was not in his Manhattan law office Monday, and a secretary said he could not be reached for comment.
Cohn has been engaged in a long fight with the Internal Revenue Service over what the IRS has listed as liens totaling $3.18 million dating back more than a quarter-century.
The matter had been held for a time after Cohn’s lawyer last year described him as being terminally ill with liver cancer. In recent months, however, Cohn has proclaimed himself to be in complete remission.
Cohn has stayed in the spotlight during his law career, and his clients have included reputed mobster Carmine Galante, fashion designer Halston and Andy Warhol, the pale eminence of pop culture.
Cohn, the son of a judge, rushed through Columbia Law School and graduated at age 20, one year before he was eligible to pass the bar in New York. In the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, he worked on the prosecution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, helping convict them as Soviet spies and send them to the electric chair.
He served as McCarthy’s aide during the anti-Communist hearings of the 1950s. When the Wisconsin senator’s influence dissipated, Cohn moved on to work as a corporate executive and represented clients such as National Airlines.
The hearings which led to his disbarment were not the first of Cohn’s legal woes. In the 1960s, he was dogged by the Internal Revenue Service for back taxes, and he was indicted three times on charges of fraud, blackmail and perjury. He was never convicted.
Cohn’s political ties remain strong, with links to many of the old-line city Democrats despite a strong allegiance to President Reagan.
He remains well-connected in other ways, and television personality Barbara Walters and real estate magnate Donald Trump testified on his behalf at the disciplinary hearing.