Former Medina resident disbarred as attorney after drug, weapons convictions

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 October 2016 at 3:59 pm

MEDINA – A former Medina resident who worked as a public defender in Monroe County has been disbarred after the Appellate Court in Rochester upheld that punishment.

Adam Rissew, 40, is serving 60 months in federal prison for drugs and weapons convictions. He was admitted as a lawyer on Feb. 21, 2008.

On Oct. 5, 2015, he was convicted in U.S. District Court of WNY for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, a federal felony.

Rissew’s then-residence at 305 Catherine St. in Medina was searched by police on July 20, 2012. Officers with the Medina Police Department and Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force found and seized in excess of 50 marijuana plants, paraphernalia related to the grow operation, numerous firearms and 684 rounds of various types of ammunition.

Among the firearms found and seized was a loaded Glock 9mm semi automatic pistol that was secreted between Rissew’s mattress and box springs. During his plea Rissew admitted he used the pistol to protect his marijuana growing operation.

The U.S. District Court suspended Rissew as an attorney on Oct. 28, 2015 and gave him a chance to show cause while he shouldn’t be disbarred. Rissew expressed his remorse for his crimes to the court, and said he was engaged in misconduct to finance his addiction to illegal narcotics, for which he has since successfully sought treatment, the Court said in a decision on Friday.

The court rejected Rissew’s arguments as valid reasons for keeping his law license. The Appellate judges said Rissew’s misconduct “is patently incompatible with the high standards imposed upon members of the bar and, in our view, any sanction other than disbarment would serve to undermine public trust and confidence in the legal profession.”

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