Sol Sheinbein, the Silver Spring lawyer who allegedly helped spirit his son to Israel after the teenager was implicated in the 1997 slaying of an acquaintance, has been disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals.
The state's highest court said in an opinion yesterday that the elder Sheinbein's actions helped stall the Montgomery County police investigation of his son, Samuel, in the death and dismemberment of Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr., 19.
Samuel Sheinbein was 17 when Tello's body was discovered Sept. 19, 1997. He is now imprisoned in Israel for the crime.
Sol Sheinbein, who joined his son in Israel the same year, did not appear at a hearing in Maryland related to the disbarment. He also has been charged by Montgomery police with obstruction of justice, but has not been prosecuted because he is overseas.
The loss of Sheinbein's Maryland law license could affect his job in Israel, where he works as a patent lawyer representing several U.S. companies, Montgomery State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler has said. The Office of the Bar Counsel in the District, where Sol Sheinbein also has a law license, is considering disbarment proceedings, said Sheinbein's attorney, Melvin Bergman.
Bergman declined to comment further on his client.
In its opinion, the Court of Appeals said that "there can be no question that the public confidence in the legal profession has been adversely affected by [Sheinbein's] conduct."
Samuel Sheinbein's escape to Israel prompted high-level diplomatic wrangling, with U.S. officials demanding his return. Israel refused to extradite him because his father claimed he and his son had dual citizenship. Israeli law prohibits the extradition of its citizens.
In 1999, Samuel Sheinbein was convicted of murder in an Israeli court and sentenced to 24 years in prison in connection with the Tello slaying. He will be eligible for furloughs next year. In Montgomery County, he could have faced life in prison.
Sol Sheinbein told a Montgomery grand jury in 1997 that his son had killed Tello to protect his friend and co-defendant, Aaron Needle, after Tello tried to rob Needle -- a theory that both Montgomery and Israeli authorities rejected. Police said Tello's body had been dismembered with a power saw, burned in the torso and stashed in a garage near the Sheinbein home.
Sheinbein said he sent his son to Israel to get him away from Needle, who was discussing suicide after the slaying. Needle hanged himself in jail before his trial was to begin.
Henry Quintero, director of the Latino Civil Rights Center, said Sol Sheinbein's disbarment was "justice served."
"This is making a statement for equal rights for everyone," said Quintero, whose organization took an interest in the case because Tello was Latino. The group filed a complaint with the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission that eventually led to the disbarment. Sol Sheinbein "acted against the wishes of the judicial system here," Quintero said.