Wednesday, July 1, 2009
From the California Bar Journal:
LOEL HARRIS SEITEL [#192999], 42, of New York was disbarred Jan. 9, 2009, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.
Seitel was sentenced to five years in prison in 2007, following a conviction for conspiracy to obstruct justice. He and several other people agreed to provide false and misleading information to the government concerning the nature of a relationship between him, his law partner, Marc F. Desiderio, and an individual who ran a drug smuggling operation.
While practicing law in New Jersey in 1993, Seitel was introduced to Jeffrey Tobin, who said he was a loanshark. In fact, according to a decision by State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn, Tobin ran an organization that purchased thousands of pounds of Mexican marijuana in California or Arizona and then moved the drugs to the New Jersey area for distribution along the eastern seaboard. Tobin asked Seitel and Desiderio to help him procure stash houses to store drugs and money.
Over a 10-year period, Honn said, Seitel and Desiderio rented three houses for Tobin’s use and in 2001, they purchased real estate for Tobin in Florida. They were paid cash for the leased residences and $500,000 in cash as collateral for the real estate. Although they were told the cash was from Tobin’s loanshark business, in fact it was from marijuana distribution.
When they became aware of an FBI investigation, Honn wrote, Seitel, Desiderio, Tobin and others agreed to provide false information to investigators about the nature of their relationship.
Seitel also represented a defendant before the grand jury, but when the government tried to have him disqualified because of his relationship with Tobin, he falsely told the court there was no conflict of interest because the Miami property transaction was legitimate.
In 2006, Seitel was charged with conspiracy to launder money, concealing money laundering, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to make false statements to the government.
Saying Seitel’s disbarment “is amply warranted,” Honn agreed with bar prosecutors’ arguments that he engaged in a continuous course of criminal conduct for 10 years and that his conduct involved moral turpitude.