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Case Abstracts for matters heard in April of 2009

CSB-2008-023 Stuart Hartley Sojcher, Boston, MA (Disbarred)
In September 2004 claimant, one of three principals of a newly-formed realty LLC, gave a $100,000 check to Mr. Sojcher on behalf of the LLC as the first installment of a $200,000 deposit for a purchase of real estate.  Mr. Sojcher admitted receiving the $100,000 and admitted that he followed the directions of another LLC principal (Principal 2) to apply the $100,000 to an American Express bill of Principal 3.  Mr. Sojcher never accounted for the $100,000 or returned it to claimant.  During 2006 claimant sued and received a default judgment against Mr. Sojcher that remains unsatisfied.  The purchase and sale agreement was dated July 13, 2004 and was signed by Principal 2.  It also contained a representation that $200,000 "have been paid as a deposit this day" to Mr. Sojcher as the "escrow agent."  February 28, 2005 was the stated closing date for the payment of the balance purchase price, $2.5 million.  Claimant never received notice to pay the second $100,000 installment of the deposit or to pay his share of the balance of the purchase price.  The closing date (February 28, 2005) passed without claimant making any inquiry to his co-principals in the LLC or to Mr. Sojcher as to what was happening.  The purchase and sale agreement provided for the deposit to go to the sellers in case of a default by the buyer(s).  The sellers sued Mr. Sojcher and received a default judgment against him for his failure to deliver the $200,000 deposit to them.  The Board unanimously found a defalcation in the amount of $100,000 but made no award to claimant who had no reimbursable loss because he would not have been entitled to the return of his partial deposit upon the buyers’ default.

CSB- 2008-079 David Ryan O’Desky, Springfield, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant retained Mr. O’Desky in April 2006 to help her gain legal custody of her three grandchildren from the Department of Social Services that removed them from the custody of claimant’s former daughter-in-law.  Mr. O’Desky requested and received from claimant $3,000 which he assured claimant was the entire fee.  During the course of the next 12 months Mr. O’Desky requested and received from claimant an additional $55,000 for what Mr. O’Desky claimed were home visitations and inspections, a CORI clearance, psychiatric examinations and therapy sessions for the children, legal fees for a lawyer for the children, court filing fees and other fictitious expenses.  Mr. O’Desky required that claimant make payments to him by Western Union.  Claimant’s documented payments to Mr. O’Desky totaled $57,878.65.  She also made un-receipted cash payments to him of $1,200.00.  Mr. O’Desky confessed to a lawyer representing claimant’s son that he [Mr. O’Desky] had performed no legal services for claimant but rather "greatly compromised" her standing in the custody proceedings.  The Board unanimously found a defalcation of $59,000 and made an award to claimant in that amount.

CSB-2008-059 Christopher Toby Hajec, Worcester, MA (Disbarred)
In March 2005, claimants gave a $50,000 check payable to "Hajec Associates" to invest in a real estate development project.  Mr. Hajec gave claimants a receipt for the $50,000 on the letterhead of "HAJEC & Associates Real Estate & Investment Property Consultants."   Before his admission to the Bar, Mr. Hajec was a licensed real estate salesperson with whom claimants had worked.  The receipt stated that the investors had "a pending offer which has been accepted, financing is being secured and a purchase and sale agreement should be forthcoming from the Seller." During October 2005, Mr. Hajec formed an LLC of which he was the sole owner and in which claimants never received any ownership rights.  In May 2007, claimants learned that the money was never used for the project and was never returned to them.  Claimants never paid any legal fee to Mr. Hajec and he performed no legal services for them.  The Board unanimously found that there was no lawyer-client relationship between Mr. Hajec and claimants, that the transaction was an investment and that claimants had no reimbursable loss.

CSB-2008-051 Gale Rosalyn Johnson, Lynn, MA (Suspended)
In late January or early February 2005, claimant paid a $300 cash consultation fee to meet with Ms. Johnson and discuss appealing the Probate Court judgment in her divorce case.  On February 4, 2005, claimant delivered a $7,500 check to Ms. Johnson and the two entered a written fee agreement.  Claimant continued installment payments through June 30, 2005 totaling $14,600.  For those fees, Ms. Johnson filed a notice of appeal in the Probate Court on March 8, 2005.  Between that filing and early September 2005, Ms. Johnson failed to obtain and file transcripts and failed to assemble the record on appeal.  As a result, claimant’s former husband successfully moved to dismiss the appeal for failure to comply with the Rules of Appellate Procedure and also obtained an award of attorney’s fees.  Claimant’s case never made it to the Appeals Court.  Throughout the entire engagement for claimant Ms. Johnson was deeply enmeshed in defending herself in disciplinary proceedings which ultimately showed that from February, 2004, through November, 2004, she intentionally misappropriated the funds of three clients, used subsequent clients' funds to repay clients whose funds previously had been converted, commingled funds, endorsed a client's name on a settlement check without authorization, and made false statements to bar counsel.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $14,600.

CSB-2006-091 Anthony R. Bott, East Orleans, MA  (Disbarred)
Claimant signed a contingent fee agreement with and gave a broad power of attorney to Mr. Bott in January 2004 to recover damages for injuries he suffered in an auto accident.  Mr. Bott promptly settled the matter in March 2004 without informing claimant and received a $20,000 check dated March 25, 2004 payable to claimant, Mr. Bott, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services.  Mr. Bott endorsed the check and used the funds for his own purposes.  Claimant was not aware of the settlement, never signed a release, never endorsed the check and never received any of the settlement proceeds from Mr. Bott.  When the liens of MassHealth ($4,192.47) and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue ($1,331.49) were combined with the allowance for Mr. Bott’s contingent fee, the deductions totaled $12,190.63.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $7,809.37.

CSB-2009-007 Charles R. Phillips, Whitman, MA (Disability Inactive)
During their divorce, claimants sold the marital home.  Mr. Phillips (counsel to the wife) disbursed the sale proceeds to them except for $10,666.87 that he, by agreement of all, retained in escrow.  Mr. Phillips never accounted for the escrowed funds and never disbursed them to claimants as required.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimants $10,666.87 to be divided between them equally.

CSB-2008-075 Raymond A. Desautels, Oxford, MA  (Disbarred)
Federal authorities charged Mr. Desautels with two counts of wire fraud on February 14, 2008.  On April 1, 2008 he accepted a $1,500 retainer from claimants to file for bankruptcy protection without ever disclosing that he might not be able to complete the engagement.  On June 24, 2008 Mr. Desautels pleaded guilty to the charges with sentencing set for October 29, 2009.  Mr. Desautels did nothing for claimants and never accounted for or returned the $1,500.   Claimants hired substitute counsel who filed a Ch. 7 petition (listing as an asset and seeking an exemption for the $1,500 claim against Mr. Desautels) and received a discharge in September 2008.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $1,500.

CSB-2008-083 Raymond A. Desautels, Oxford, MA (Disbarred)
Claimants engaged Mr. Desautels in January 2008 and paid him $750 to file for bankruptcy protection.  He directed claimants to take an online credit counseling course and to charge the $60 fee to his credit card.  Claimants then decided to negotiate directly with the mortgagee instead of filing for bankruptcy and informed Mr. Desautels of their decision.  In May, they changed course again and decided that bankruptcy was the best route only to discover that Mr. Desautels was about to be suspended.  He pleaded guilty to the wire fraud charges on June 24, 2008 with sentencing scheduled for August 2009.  Mr. Desautels performed no legal services for claimants and never accounted for or returned the $750 except for the $60 credit counseling course fee.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $690.

CSB-2008-087 Raymond A. Desautels, Oxford, MA  (Disbarred)
More than one month after the U.S. charged him with wire fraud on February 14, 2008, Mr. Desautels accepted claimant's $1,124 retainer for a Ch. 7 bankruptcy on March 6, 2008 without advising him that he may not be able to complete the engagement.  In April, Mr. Desautels unilaterally transferred claimant's file (and $334 of the fee) to a Worcester lawyer.  On June 24, 2008 Mr. Desautels pleaded guilty to both counts and sentencing is set for October 29, 2009.  Mr. Desautels never accounted for or returned the $790.  The Worcester lawyer filed claimant’s petition in May, 2008, resulting in his August 2008 discharge.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $790 ($1,124 – $334).

CSB-2008-090 Raymond A. Desautels, Oxford, MA (Disbarred)
More than one month after the U.S. charged him with wire fraud on February 14, 2008, Mr. Desautels accepted claimant's $850 retainer for a Ch. 7 bankruptcy on March 15 without disclosing that he may not be able to complete the engagement.  In April, Mr. Desautels unilaterally transferred claimant's file (but not the fee) to a Worcester lawyer but never accounted for, transferred or returned the $800 that remained after claimant took the online credit counseling course for which Mr. Desautels paid.  Because of the Worcester lawyer’s filing on July 25, 2008, claimant received a January 2009 discharge but the schedules failed to list the claim against Mr. Desautels as an asset and did not try to exempt it.  When contacted, the creditors’ trustee responded about this and CSB 2009-003 that she had no objection to the $800 unearned fee being returned to claimant.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $800.

CSB-2008-086 Raymond A. Desautels, Oxford, MA  (Disbarred)
More than one month after the U.S. charged him with wire fraud on February 14, 2008, Mr. Desautels accepted claimant's $1,104 retainer for a Ch. 7 bankruptcy on March 20, 2008 without advising her that he may not be able to complete the engagement.   In April, Mr. Desautels unilaterally transferred claimant's file (but not the fee) to a Worcester lawyer.  On June 24, 2008, Mr. Desautels pleaded guilty to both counts and sentencing is set for October 29, 2009. Mr. Desautels never accounted for or returned the $1,104. The Worcester lawyer filed claimant’s petition on June 25, 2008, resulting in her October 2008 discharge.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $1,104.

CSB-2009-003 Raymond A. Desautels, Oxford, MA (Disbarred)
Almost one month after the U.S. charged him with wire fraud on February 14, 2008, Mr. Desautels accepted co-claimants' $1,500 retainer for a Ch. 7 bankruptcy on March 11, without disclosing that he may not be able to complete the engagement.  In April, Mr. Desautels unilaterally transferred claimants' file to a Worcester lawyer but never accounted for, transferred or returned the $1,500.  Because of the Worcester lawyer’s filing on July 15, 2008, claimants received an October 2008 discharge but the schedules failed to list the claim against Mr. Desautels as an asset and did not try to exempt it.  When contacted, the creditors’ trustee responded about this and CSB 2008-090 that she had no objection to the $1,500 unearned fee being returned to claimants.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $1,500.

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