Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Conspiracy Draws Permanent Disbarment

The web page of the Ohio Supreme Court reports:

The Supreme Court of Ohio has permanently revoked the law license of Cleveland attorney Bruce A. Zaccagnini for professional misconduct arising from his involvement in a conspiracy with his law partners and others through which they unlawfully obtained lucrative contracts to provide appraisals of commercial real estate for the Cuyahoga County Auditor’s Office.

Zaccagnini, whose license has been under an interim suspension since his 2010 conviction in federal court on a felony count of conspiracy, is currently serving a 60-month term of incarceration at the Morgantown Federal Correctional Facility. He was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $3.2 million to Cuyahoga County.

In a 7-0 per curiam decision announced today, the Court adopted findings by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline that between 1998 and 2008, Zaccagnini and others obtained commercial property appraisal contracts totaling more than $21 million from the Cuyahoga County Auditor. From the proceeds of those contracts, the conspirators and companies they controlled paid kickbacks of more than $1.4 million to two employees of the auditor’s office, and collected fees totaling more than $9 million, an amount that exceeded the value of the services provided to the county. 

The Court affirmed the board’s conclusions that Zaccagnini’s conduct violated the state attorney discipline rules that prohibit a lawyer from engaging in criminal conduct involving moral turpitude;  conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty or misrepresentation; conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; and conduct that adversely reflects on a lawyer’s fitness to practice law.

In adopting the board’s recommended sanction of permanent disbarment, the Court noted that Zaccagnini‘s unethical conduct had “lasted approximately ten years, victimized every taxpayer in Cuyahoga County and resulted in a restitution order of $3,215,845.” The Court agreed with the board’s determination that Zaccagnini had engaged in a “widespread pattern of criminal misconduct and corruption that resulted in great harm to the residents of Cuyahoga County and all county government.”

The court's opinion is linked here. Details concerning the criminal charges from Cleveland.com are here. (Mike Frisch)

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