Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Bad Month Gets Worse

An attorney who has not been cooperative with ongoing bar investigations has been suspended in an interim basis by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department.

As to the first complaint:

In June 2010, one of respondent's clients, who had retained respondent with
respect to a matrimonial matter, filed a complaint with the Committee alleging
that respondent neglected his case and failed to account for $4,782 in escrow
funds. The Committee forwarded a copy of the complaint to respondent on July 15, 2010, requesting he submit an answer. When respondent failed to respond, the Committee telephoned respondent and left a message. Two days later, on August 13, 2010, respondent contacted the Committee and requested an adjournment until August 18. However, respondent did not submit an answer by that date. On September 8, 2010, respondent secured a further adjournment until September 14, but, once again, no answer was received. By letter dated October 14, 2010 and mailed by regular and certified mail, the Committee advised respondent that he had 10 days to submit a response to the complaint and that a failure on his part was grounds for suspension. Once again, no answer was provided. Thereafter, from November 2010 through mid-February 2011, Committee Staff had five separate conversations with respondent during which he offered various explanations for his failure to submit an answer, including that he had been in a car accident, he had had a "bad month," and that a long holiday weekend and family illness had
prevented his compliance.

Following numerous adjournments granted by the Committee, respondent finally submitted an answer to the complaint on February 18, 2011. Respondent stated, among other things, that any monies that were being held in escrow "were used to pay [the client's] ex-wife [] due under the divorce judgment, and counsel fees which [the client] agreed to pay to his exwife's lawyers." Respondent's answer was sent to the client, who submitted a reply wherein he stated:

Before following up on Mr. Mainieros' response to my complaint I contacted him. I agreed to drop my complaint if he reimbursed me for my court ordered escrow. Additionally Mr. Mainiero agreed to reimburse my additional expenses which were $750 to hire another lawyer to finish the legal work Mr. Mainiero never completed and $400 for a judgment which was placed on my credit report....

After bouncing one check Mr. Mainiero did pay back my escrow and my attorney fee but I never received the $400. Mr. Mainiero has failed to return any of my calls or messages. For this reason I would like to proceed with my complaint.

Two more complaints were filed against the attorney by matrimonial clients.

The court concluded:

Here, respondent's conduct is willful insofar as the Committee has given him
numerous opportunities and accommodations to cooperate with its investigation of his clients' various complaints, but he has not taken advantage of those chances. Although he initially cooperated with the first complaint, albeit after months of adjournments, he eventually failed to respond to Committee inquiries and failed to provide relevant bank records subpoenaed by the Committee. In addition, respondent has defaulted on this motion seeking his immediate suspension.

(Mike Frisch)


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