Saturday, November 20, 2010
A New Jersey attorney has been censured for misconduct in the representation of a client for injuries sustained in a bar fight with NBA star Carmelo Anthony. The client told the attorney that he had a videotape "depicting Anthony and another man, who was severely beaten during the fight." Anthony's sports agent contacted the attorney and sought to see and purchase the tape. The attorney consulted counsel and was told that if there were no threats, then the negotiation was "legitimate and legal."
The attorney did not participate in a meeting between the client and an agent in which the client demanded a $3 million payment. He did meet with the agency's attorney and arranged for a settlement. He was arrested in Central Park while waiting for delivery of a $1.25 million settlement check to the client's cousin in the Trump International Hotel.
He was charged with grand larceny and pled to a misdemeanor attempt grand larceny. He cooperated with the prosecution and voluntarily refrained from practice for almost two years.
The Disciplinary Review Board found:
Here, respondent's misconduct was serious. Nevertheless, the record strongly suggests that naivete, inexperience, and a total lack of understanding of his involvement in an extortion plot played a great role in his actions. In a misguided fashion, he unwittingly participated in a matter that turned out to be criminal. He had no actual knowledge of the scheme-he did not attend any meetings in which the sale of the videotape was discussed.
The attorney admitted that he made a " 'horrible' decision to take the case and that he should have withdrawn from it when he saw warning signs." (Mike Frisch)