CSB-2007-068 Stuart Hartley Sojcher, Boston, MA (Disbarred)
In January 2006, claimants arranged to sell their home in Swampscott and buy another home there. Claimants, who did not use a real estate broker, engaged Mr. Sojcher to represent them in the sale of the home having learned of him from the web site of their purchase-money lender for the new property. Under an escrow agreement, Mr. Sojcher accepted buyers’ checks of $1,000 (earnest money) and $68,500 (deposit) during March and April 2006. At the May 31, 2006 closing on the sale of claimants’ home, Mr. Sojcher failed to deliver the proceeds of $69,500.00 to claimants. That forced them to borrow an additional $69,500 for the August 2006 closing on the purchase of their new home. Claimants’ mortgage lender denied all responsibility for Mr. Sojcher’s conduct but did provide claimants with a separate loan for $69,500 that increased their monthly payment by approximately $428.00, $360 of which was the interest charge. Claimants’ suit against Mr. Sojcher resulted in a November 2007 default judgment for $315,814.33 consisting of actual and punitive damages, attorney’s fee, post-judgment interest and costs. The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimants $79,499.53 comprising of $69,500 plus a hardship award of $9,999.53 for the interest paid during the first 28 months of the supplemental mortgage loan of $69,500.
CSB-2008-031 Gerard E. Battista, Jr., Norwell, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant, age 62 and disabled, hired Mr. Battista to handle his financial affairs, including the settling of claimant’s mother’s estate. Claimant and the children of his deceased brother shared equally in the proceeds of the June 24, 2004 sale of the mother’s home from which claimant received $157,085.24. On the very same day, Mr. Battista represented claimant in the purchase of a new home for $124,690 leaving claimant with a balance of $32,395.24. Claimant then documented that through October 2005 Mr. Battista sold one home and purchased another for claimant; paid an assortment of expenses ranging from a granite marker for claimant’s mother’s grave to utility and credit card bills and bought a $10,000 used car for claimant. When an October 2005 check issued by Mr. Battista for claimant’s condominium fee bounced, claimant never heard from Mr. Battista again. According to claimant’s documentation his balance should have been $7,065.42. Mr. Battista provided no accounting and never returned claimant’s funds. The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $7,065.42.
CSB-2007-073 Lawrence Rizman, Newton, MA (Suspended)
A friend of claimant’s introduced him to Mr. Rizman in March 2002 just after claimant was released after nine days in a mental hospital. Claimant faced legal problems with car dealers, his landlord, garages, and contractors that Mr. Rizman promised to handle for a $500 retainer. In April 2002, Mr. Rizman discovered that claimant was one of the sexual abuse victims of a notorious Boston priest and told claimant he was his "agent" for a "book deal" and movie rights but needed an additional $1,000. In late April 2002, Mr. Rizman told claimant to entrust to him $3,500 in withheld rent and he "would handle everything." The landlord got a judgment against claimant while Mr. Rizman did nothing. He never accounted for the amounts claimant paid to him, never provided meaningful services and never refunded any portion of the $5,000. The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $5,000.
CSB-2006-056 Gerard E. Battista, Jr., Norwell, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant paid approximately $13,500 to a Cape Cod municipality for taxes and water bills to save his great-grandmother's home from seizure and sale. After the great-grandmother died while living in a nursing home, claimant paid Mr. Battista $3,000 in August 2004 to file a Notice of Claim for $13,500 against his great-grandmother's estate. After not hearing from Mr. Battista for some time, claimant reviewed the probate court file and learned that Mr. Battista had failed to file a Notice of Claim. The proceeds of the sale of the great-grandmother’s house first satisfied a Medicaid lien and the balance was distributed to heirs with Probate Court approval. Claimant received nothing. Mr. Battista never performed any services on behalf of claimant. The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $3,000.