Monday, May 23, 2016

Lawyer cited for not returning cash he found in bank's drive-up teller container.

On April 1, 2016, the Office of Attorney Ethics filed a formal complaint against a Monmouth County attorney for taking $1,185 in cash that he found in a pneumatic air tube container when he stopped to make a drive-up bank deposit. 

According to the complaint, Hazlet attorney Marc B. Schram, who has been a lawyer since 1984, found an envelope containing $1,185.65 in cash and another bank customer's driver license in a pneumatic container on February 25, 2015 when he went through the drive-up window at the TD Bank branch at Bethany Road, Hazlet.  The money and license were left in the container by a previous customer who had cashed a payroll check but was distracted by a cell phone conversation.

The previous customer quickly realized his mistake and returned to the bank to find only $.65 and his license.  Police were called and an examination of the video surveillance tape showed that Schram arrived at the drive-up window one minute after the other customer had departed.  According to the complaint, Schram "opened the envelope, counted the money and removed the cash from the envelope" and left the drive-up window two minutes later "without conducting a transaction."  Schram reportedly admitted to detectives that when he saw the cash, he "didn't know what to do [and] had a momentary lapse of reason" and ultimately decided to take the money "because it was there." 

A criminal complaint was resolved by Schram reimbursing the owner of the cash and successfully completing a Pre-trial Intervention program.  As required by ethics rules, Schram self-reported the matter to ethics authorities and a formal complaint was filed against him.  As of May 19, 2016, Schram hadn't yet filed a response to the complaint but has retained a lawyer, Marc D. Garfinkle of Morristown, to represent him.

According to Schram's website, he has served as public defender in Old Bridge and Aberdeen and as Special Counsel for Monmouth County.

Since 1995, attorney disciplinary hearings have been open to the public.  Anyone who is interested in being notified in advance of any hearings on this matter may complete and send a hearing request form to the Office of Attorney Ethics in care of Barbara Cristofaro via fax to 609-530-5238.