Hello and welcome to this JACPA Ethics Alert blog which will discuss the April 3, 2012 New York Appellate Court opinion disbarring a lawyer for misconduct related to the lawyer’s involvement in a mortgage fraud ring and conviction of felony charges related to the same misconduct.
According to the opinion, the lawyer was disbarred after pleading guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud for his role in a two-year mortgage fraud ring that apparently obtained more than $10 million in fraudulently obtained loans. He pled guilty to felony charges in April 2010 but had not yet been sentenced on the date of the opinion. He also had submitted his resignation from practice.
The lawyer was one of three individuals who were charged in the mortgage fraud ring, in which a total of 10 individuals were charged. He was a real estate investor who purchased and sold properties using straw corporations and straw buyers. The lawyer occasionally represented the straw buyers and corporations in transactions for some of the properties and, inter alia; paid other ring members to falsify information and prepared false checks to show that down payments had been paid when they had not actually been paid.
Bottom line: this New York lawyer was disbarred for engaging in fraudulent conduct (and being convicted of felony criminal charges for the misconduct) both as a lawyer and outside of the practice of law. The Supreme Court of Florida has previously said “a lawyer is a lawyer is a lawyer” and can be prosecuted for violations of the Florida Bar Rules for fraudulent and other misconduct even if it does not occur while the lawyer is practicing law.
Be careful out there!
As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.
THE LAW OFFICE OF JOSEPH A. CORSMEIER, P.A.
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Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
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