Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Gone To Florida With A Toney Virtual Address

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department has suspended an attorney on an interim basis

In October 2016, the Attorney Grievance Committee (Committee), commenced an investigation into respondent's conduct after it received a complaint from V.G. alleging that he initially contacted respondent in April 2016 regarding "employee funds" he was seeking. Respondent's secretary informed him that after she verified that the check was not cashed, a new check could be re-issued after his identity had been verified. On May 8, 2016, V.G. emailed back an Affidavit of Identity and after emailing his bank account information, he finally received an email from the secretary on June 27, 2016, stating that respondent would be wiring him a payment. When no payment was forthcoming, V.G. asked for an update and on July 13, 2016, respondent emailed him stating that there were no signs of rejection from his bank and for him to contact respondent. Thereafter, V.G. provided his cell phone number for respondent to call and sent an email and left phone messages for respondent but no contact was made. On September 8, 2016, respondent sent an email to V.G. suggesting he contact him but V.G. was so frustrated with respondent's conduct that he didn't reply and discovered on his own that respondent allegedly turned over the subject funds to the California State Comptroller's Office.

The Committee sent respondent a copy of the complaint and a request for an answer to the address listed on the complaint form and to his OCA registered business address. The letters were returned stamped "not deliverable as addressed" or "attempted not known" and "return to sender." In March 2017, the Committee sent a request for an answer to the complaint to respondent's OCA registered home address in Connecticut (where he is also admitted) but the letter was returned as "moved, left no address." In April 2017, when the Committee called the phone number listed on the complaint, a receptionist answered and provided a mailing address for respondent located in Miami, Florida. On April 20, 2017, letters were sent to the Miami address by first class mail and certified mail return receipt requested but both letters were returned marked "no such number"; letters were also sent by fax and email but no response was received.

A Committee investigator located papers respondent had filed on February 28, 2017 in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida which listed a Park Avenue South, NY, NY address. Accordingly, on May 25, 2017, the Committee served respondent with a subpoena duces tecum directing he appear for a deposition on June 20, 2017. The investigator learned that the Park Avenue South address was a "virtual address" which housed P.O. Boxes. An employee at that location confirmed that respondent maintained a mailbox there and agreed to personally place an envelope with the subpoena in respondent's mailbox. The investigator also attempted to personally serve respondent at his business address listed with OCA but upon a search of the area he learned that the address did not exist. The subpoena was also mailed to respondent at the Park Avenue South address by first class mail but was returned to the Committee as "unable to forward." Respondent did not appear for the deposition or otherwise contact the Committee.

On April 20 and July 12, 2017, the Committee emailed respondent at the email address listed on the complaint noting his failure to submit an answer to the complaint. Notably, on July 14, 2017, respondent emailed back that he was sorry the Committee was having trouble reaching him and he would "try to more fully respond to you over the weekend..." The Committee emailed respondent back, again requesting an answer to the complaint and advising that if he failed to provide such by July 21, the Committee would seek his interim suspension.

Disbarment will follow in six months if no response is filed. (Mike Frisch)


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