By Mindy Rattan
A senior lawyer who secretly installed GPS tracking and audio recording devices in his ex-girlfriend’s car to see who she was dating was suspended for at least one year.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Aug. 30 granted a joint petition consenting to discipline for Michael J. Casale, Jr. that suspended him from practicing law for five years, with four years stayed on conditions.
After Casale and his girlfriend split up, he went into her garage at night and put a tracking device in the rear of her vehicle and a USB audio recording device under her front seat, the petition said. He wanted to track her movements and discover who she was dating.
Casale tried to retrieve the devices several times but couldn’t because her vehicle was locked, the petition said. About three months after Casale placed the devices, the former girlfriend discovered them.
He pleaded guilty to trespass and intercepting or using wire, electronic or oral communications. He was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, make a $10,000 charitable donation, and have no contact with his ex-girlfriend.
Casale agreed he violated Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) (committing a crime that reflects adversely on lawyer’s honesty or fitness) and 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty or fraud).
The petition listed the following as mitigating factors: no disciplinary history; admission of wrongdoing and cooperation during his disciplinary proceedings; and remorse.
The suspension was retroactive to Jan. 4, 2018 (date of his temporary suspension), and the conditions of the probationary four-year stayed suspension included complying with the terms of his criminal probation and reporting his discipline to all jurisdictions where he is admitted to practice law.
Casale was admitted to practice in Pennsylvania in 1976.
The case is Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Casale , 2018 BL 315337, Pa., 2435 Disciplinary Docket No. 3, 8/30/18 .
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