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Case Abstracts for matters heard in December of 2009

CSB-2008-107 James Russell Hodgdon, Norwell, MA (Disbarred)
Mr. Hodgdon represented husband-claimant in a 2006 divorce during which the former husband and wife claimants sold the marital home.  The divorce decree stipulated that the capital gains tax on the sale of the home was to be estimated, segregated from the sale proceeds, and placed in escrow until April 2007.  A written agreement named Mr. Hodgdon as the escrow agent.  After the home sold in December 2006, $31,688.00 was reserved and placed into escrow to pay the capital gains taxes.  At that time, Mr. Hodgdon was five months into a disciplinary proceeding that would result in his stipulation to a three-month suspension as a prelude to his ultimate disbarment.  He never accounted to claimants for the escrow and never paid any portion of it to them.  The Board found a defalcation of $31,688 and made separate awards to the husband (40% or $12,675.20) and wife (60% or $19,012.80) as directed by the Escrow Agreement. 

CSB-2009-080 Robert K. Gordon, Abington, MA (Suspended)
When claimants fell behind on their mortgage payments in June 1998, claimant-husband withdrew $101,803.68 from his pension and delivered a check in that amount to Mr. Gordon with instructions to attempt to negotiate a lump-sum settlement below the $103,010.49 payoff amount then due.  After Mr. Gordon’s offer of $90,000 was rejected, he failed to place the funds into an individual interest-bearing trust account. Instead, Mr. Gordon deposited the funds into his IOLTA.  Mr. Gordon then took no further action on behalf of claimants, but his embezzling secretary made payments to Mr. Gordon, to herself and to unrelated clients from claimants’ funds reducing them to $19,395.14 by December 1998.  In January 1999, when the bank started foreclosure proceedings, Mr. Gordon paid the bank $24,587.30 for 15 months of principal, interest, late charges, legal fees, costs and other charges.  In May 1999, Mr. Gordon also made a lump sum payment of $65,000 to the mortgagee.  The total of $89,587.30 came from co-mingled IOLTA funds belonging to other clients.  Later in 1999, claimants delivered $5,643.85 to Mr. Gordon to pay to the bank and in February 2000, Mr. Gordon directed claimants to pay another $10,600.78 to fully discharge the mortgage.  This episode formed Count Three of Bar Counsel’s Petition for Discipline that led to a Stipulation to a two-year suspension.  One component of the stipulation was that, in mitigation, Mr. Gordon was to pay $5,000 to claimants at its filing (which he paid) and then pay a further $8,500.00 in installments (which he never paid).  The Board found a defalcation of $8,500 and made an award in that amount. 

CSB-2008-052 Paul J. Healy, Rockland, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant and Mr. Healy met many years ago at an Alcohol Anonymous meeting.  Later, Mr. Healy represented claimant on OUI charges in 1999, and again in 2000.  Also, in 1999, Mr. Healy incorporated an antiques business for claimant and handled a New Hampshire real estate matter for him.  In February 2004, claimant was again arrested and charged with OUI.  At the time of his arrest, claimant gave Mr. Healy his wallet and checkbook.  While incarcerated, claimant asked Mr. Healy to pay bills and forward his mail to him.  Later, when claimant reviewed his bank statements, he discovered that Mr. Healy had used claimant’s bank account to pay some of Mr. Healy’s own bills and also obtained a duplicate ATM card and used it without claimant’s authority.  Mr. Healy wrote 20 checks (from claimant’s account) to himself or for his own benefit that totaled $4,319.87.  Claimant provided documents showing seven unauthorized ATM withdrawals by Mr. Healy that totaled $945.50.  The Board found a defalcation of $5,265.37 and made an award in that amount. 

CSB-2009-018 Terrence E. Burke, Stoneham, MA (Suspended)
Claimant paid Mr. Burke $600 to complete a divorce on which he had represented her years earlier.  Claimant’s delay was caused by a series of family deaths (parents and grandparents).  When Mr. Burke requested the $600 he was defending bar disciplinary proceedings for conversion of another client’s $13,500.  Mr. Burke never sent claimant any bills and never did any work to earn the fee.  Claimant had paid him in full for all prior work.  The Board found a defalcation of $600 and made an award in that amount. 

CSB-2009-030 Yiping Du, Cambridge, MA (Suspended)
In July 2007, claimant paid Mr. Du $2,000 for divorce services.  When claimant contacted Mr. Du in August, he promised to return claimant’s call but never did.  In September 2008, claimant went to Mr. Du’s office and met with his secretary who informed claimant that Mr. Du had abandoned his practice the previous year.  The Board found a defalcation of $2,000 and made an award in that amount. 

CSB-2008-062 Bruce L. Namenson, Quincy, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant retained Mr. Namenson in connection with a February 2007 collision.  He settled with the other party's insurer in November by signing claimant's name to the release and the $20,000 settlement check.  Mr. Namenson settled with claimant's carrier for $7,000.  Claimant pursued the forged endorsement claim and was made whole with $13,333.34 from the drawee bank.  From the $7,000 settlement, Mr. Namenson paid out a total of $6,826.58 in expenses (including his 1/3 fee) for claimant leaving a balance due of $173.42 that was never returned or accounted for.  The Board found a defalcation of $173.42 and made an award in that amount. 

CSB-2009-013 Edward M. Cronin, Jr., Cambridge, MA (Suspended)
In February 2006, ten months into his disciplinary investigation, Mr. Cronin accepted a total of $1,724 from claimant to file a bankruptcy.  Mr. Cronin immediately negotiated the check for cash.  In May 2006, Mr. Cronin was suspended for non-cooperation with Bar Counsel's investigation and was suspended for a year and a day in September 2006.  He performed no legal services whatsoever and never accounted for or returned claimant's fee.  He dishonestly concealed from claimant the fact that he might not be able to complete the engagement for which he was hired.  The Board found a defalcation of $1,724 and made an award in that amount. 

CSB-2009-031 Theodore Scott Geller, Worcester, MA (Disbarred)
In December 2001 claimant paid Mr. Geller a $300 retainer to recover damages to personal property damaged by flooding in his apartment.  Claimant paid $450.00 more in January 2003 but Mr. Geller did not file suit against the landlord until July 2003.  Docket entries show the suit was “inactivated” three times during 2004 and Mr. Geller also withdrew as claimant's counsel.  Claimant paid Mr. Geller $200 in October 2004 and summary judgment entered for defendant in January 2005.  The docket entries show no hearings and, after the complaint, the only pleading Mr. Geller filed was his motion to withdraw.  Claimant sued Mr. Geller in Small Claims Court where Mr. Geller entered an agreement for judgment for $2,000 but paid only $250.  Claimant paid a total of $950 in legal fees and recovered $250.  The Board found a defalcation of $700.00 and made an award in that amount. 

CSB-2009-049 Barbara F. Greenlee, Holyoke, MA (Suspended)
Claimant paid a $1,480 retainer to Ms. Greenlee in November 2005 for representation in an interpleader action over $40,347.62 in excess proceeds from the foreclosure sale of the house that belonged to claimant and her then-husband.  This representation became the sole basis for Ms. Greenlee’s suspension.  Because of extreme depression, family obligations in another state and financial challenges, Ms. Greenlee provided no meaningful legal services on claimant’s behalf.  Although claimant and her then-husband were parties to the 2005 interpleader, in February 2007 the court awarded $14,162.01 solely to claimant.  The Board found a defalcation of $1,480 and made an award in that amount. 

CSB-2009-050 Gary L. Meyers, Brookline, MA (Deceased)  
Claimant owned a piece of real estate transferred to her in 2004 by her now-deceased husband.  In 1998, when claimant’s husband owned the property, an abutting neighbor tore down the fence between their properties believing it encroached on his land.  Claimant’s husband sued for an adverse possession declaration and received a preliminary injunction that forced the neighbor to restore the fence status quo ante.  Claimant’s husband posted a $4,000 cash bond (held briefly, then misappropriated by the neighbor’s lawyer, Mr. Meyers) to cover the fence costs if his suit failed.  Several years of case inaction followed during which the claimant’s husband, his lawyer and Mr. Meyers all died.  Claimant won a 2008 bench trial and then sought return of the $4,000 from the defendant.  The Court ruled that claimant’s sole remedy was with the Clients’ Security Board because of Mr. Meyers’s misappropriation.  The Board found a defalcation of $4,000 and made an award in that amount.

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