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Case Abstracts for matters heard in June of 2010

CSB-2010-004 John D. Roberts, Dennis, MA  (Disbarred)
In 2001, Mr. Roberts represented claimant, a successful entrepreneur, in the sale of his business for $1.5M.  One week after the sale, claimant crashed his motorcycle and was severely injured.  He was charged with OUI, convicted and sentenced to four years in jail.  Mr. Roberts did not represent claimant in this criminal case.  During his incarceration, claimant asked Mr. Roberts to assume broad responsibility for his financial affairs not only because he had known him for 25 years and trusted him but also because he was familiar with his principal business transactions.  Claimant signed a power of attorney appointing his adult daughter and/or Mr. Roberts to act for him.  Claimant agreed to pay Mr. Roberts approximately $6,000 for his services that were to include (1) paying household bills, tuition bills, preparing and filing tax returns, etc., (2) collecting the balance of the purchase price on the sale of the business, and (3) performing legal work for claimant’s business partners for which the partners were to pay Mr. Roberts directly.  Mr. Roberts collected $1,356,909.49, disbursed $700,994.89 to or for the benefit of claimant, and misappropriated the balance for his gambling addiction.  He pleaded guilty to felony theft.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $655,914.60. 

CSB-2009-078 Jon Christopher Taylor, Boston, MA  (Disbarred)
Claimant retained Mr. Taylor to represent her son who was charged with murder and authorized her sister to sign a fee agreement on June 30, 2007.  Claimant then paid Mr. Taylor $8,100 at that time toward a $20,000 total fee.  In October 2007, claimant paid Mr. Taylor an additional $6,000.  Mr. Taylor filed his appearance on behalf of claimant’s son on July 31, 2007, then failed to appear for pre-trial hearings on October 16, 2007 and January 31, 2008 and for a status conference on March 6, 2008.  He withdrew his appearance on March 14, 2008.  Mr. Taylor dishonestly concealed from claimant his own criminal misconduct that resulted in bar counsel filing a petition for temporary suspension on July 24, 2007.  The court appointed counsel for claimant’s son on March 26, 2008.  Claimant unsuccessfully requested the return of her retainer from Mr. Taylor who never accounted for the $14,100 or returned any portion of it.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $14,100. 

CSB-2010-026 Jon Christopher Taylor, Boston, MA  (Disbarred)
Between August 14, 2007 and January 15, 2008 claimant paid Mr. Taylor $12,050 in five installments to represent a friend on five criminal charges (including manslaughter) arising from an auto collision.  Mr. Taylor dishonestly concealed from claimant his own criminal misconduct that caused bar counsel to file a petition for his temporary suspension on July 24, 2007.  Before withdrawing his appearance on March 20, 2008, Mr. Taylor provided no meaningful legal services to the client.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $12,000. 

CSB-2009-084 Lawrence P. Novak, Brockton, MA  (Disbarred)
Claimant (then a prison inmate), his wife and a friend paid $18,100 to Mr. Novak between March and July 2005 to have Mr. Novak vacate a substantial number of claimant’s prior state court convictions.  In March 2005, when claimant met Mr. Novak at prison, Mr. Novak explained that he was a "specialist" in vacating convictions.  Claimant alleged that Mr. Novak went back on his promise not to request any more than the original $10,000 in legal fees until he had vacated half of claimant’s convictions.  The reversal occurred during a prison lock-down when inmates could not make telephone calls but could receive visits from their lawyers.  Following one his visits during lock-down, Mr. Novak called claimant’s wife and told her that claimant had authorized him to request an additional $2,500 from her.  She gave Mr. Novak that check and others totaling $8,100 beyond the original $10,000.  In September 2005, a federal grand jury indicted Mr. Novak for obstruction of justice for having urged another incarcerated client to file a false affidavit in support of a motion to vacate a prior state court conviction.  When claimant learned of Mr. Novak’s indictment, he dismissed him and requested a refund of the payments.  Mr. Novak failed to vacate any of claimant’s prior convictions; he refused to participate in fee arbitration; and never returned any of the fee paid to him.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $8,000 to be divided equally between claimant’s wife and friend. 

CSB-2010-054 Francis Joseph Lafayette, Palmer, MA  (Deceased)
Claimant is a laid-off, 60-year-old decorated Vietnam War veteran who, between January 2007 and December 2009, paid a total of $1,336 in monthly installments to Mr. Lafayette who promised to hold those funds in trust until he accumulated a sufficient amount to cover the bankruptcy court filing fee and his own legal fees: approximately $1,300.  When he died, Mr. Lafayette had just about the correct amount to file a bankruptcy petition for claimant, but he never did.  At the time of his death, bar counsel was investigating Mr. Lafayette.  Claimant’s funds were no longer in any trust account established by Mr. Lafayette.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $1,336. 

CSB-2010-019 Jon Christopher Taylor, Boston, MA (Disbarred)
Claimant was a letter carrier who was injured on the job.  After being denied worker's compensation and an alternate work assignment, she filed a grievance which she won.  The postmaster timely filed an opposition to the arbitrator’s decision alleging that claimant had lied.  That opposition resulted in a verdict against claimant.  She had six months to appeal between June and December 2004.  On August 5, 2004 she paid Mr. Taylor, her brother’s lawyer, $5,000 to do the appeal.  He took her check (that he immediately negotiated for cash), all of claimant's files and effectively disappeared.  Claimant made several calls to Mr. Taylor without reaching him.  He admitted to bar counsel in writing on May 16, 2008, that he never filed an appeal because he could find nothing in the record on which to base it.  Mr. Taylor also stated that he wished he could refund at least half of claimant’s money if he had sufficient funds.  Claimant received no legal services for her $5,000.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $5,000. 

CSB-2008-101 Edward David Friedman, Springfield, MA  (Disbarred)
In August 2001, Mr. Friedman settled claimant's 1998 injury claim for $19,250 but told her the settlement was only $15,000.  He sent $5,195.39 to her in October 2001 but kept the balance ($7,637.94) ostensibly to pay her medical bills.  Mr. Friedman never accounted to claimant for that balance or returned it to her.  In September 2005, as claimant was attempting to re-finance her home mortgage, a loan officer told her of medical bill delinquencies on her credit report totaling more than $2,000.  During her investigations on the delinquencies, claimant found an additional $4,000 in unpaid bills.  Her refinancing was denied because of the bad credit report.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $7,637.94. 

CSB-2009-051 Michael G. Sites, North Dartmouth, MA  (Disbarred)
Claimant paid Mr. Sites a $1,000 retainer on October 6, 2008 to represent him before a local Conservation Board on a permitting issue just 10 days before Mr. Sites admitted to sufficient facts on an OUI charge.  After Mr. Sites failed to appear at the first hearing, claimant called him several times without reaching him.  In December 2008, Mr. Sites was convicted of negligent operation of a motor vehicle and OUI and received 60 days in the House of Correction.  Claimant discovered this news only because he read it in a local newspaper.  Claimant had to engage substitute counsel.  Two more convictions followed in 2009, all unreported to bar counsel.  In February 2010, Mr. Sites filed an affidavit of resignation.  He never provided any legal services for claimant, never returned the retainer and never accounted for it.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded claimant $1,000. 

CSB-2009-082 Irwin Kwiat, Worcester, MA  (Disbarred)
Claimant paid Mr. Kwiat a $750 retainer in May 2001 to represent him in District Court on criminal charges leveled by a female resident in claimant's condominium complex.  In a 13-page typewritten January 2007 complaint to bar counsel, claimant recited a host of Mr. Kwiat's failings, alleging only Mr. Kwiat’s negligence, incompetence or malpractice.  He alleged no misappropriation.  The Board found no defalcation and denied the claim. 

CSB-2010-001 Wendy Beth Golenbock, Weston, MA (Disbarred)
In July 1998, claimant engaged Ms. Golenbock to challenge under 28 USC 2255 her 10-year sentence in 1997 for an assortment of federal drug offenses.  Claimant’s daughter paid Ms. Golenbock a total of $5,000.  Ms. Golenbock dishonestly concealed from claimant and her daughter that she herself was already defending federal indictments for aiding and abetting bankruptcy fraud, fraudulent concealment of the fraud and two counts of conspiracy.  Ms. Golenbock filed claimant’s 2255 motion on March 22, 1999, more than three months after the one-year statutory deadline.  A jury convicted Ms. Golenbock on April 12, 1999 on the two substantive counts for which she was sentenced to 21 months in prison.  Claimant’s demand for a refund of the $5,000 fee went unanswered.  The Board found a defalcation and awarded $5,000 to claimant’s daughter.

CSB 2004-047 James Wager, Salem, MA (Disbarred)
A follow-up call to claimant’s counsel revealed that claimant had successfully exhausted civil remedies against the depositary bank that allowed Mr. Wager to deposit the insurance company’s settlement check with claimant’s forged endorsement and receive full value for it.  Based on that information, the Board dismissed the claim because of a recovery from a third party. 

CSB 2004-072 James Wager, Salem, MA  (Disbarred)
A follow-up call to claimants’ counsel revealed that claimant had successfully exhausted civil remedies against the depositary bank that allowed Mr. Wager to deposit the insurance company’s settlement check with claimant’s forged endorsement and receive full value for it.  Based on that information, the Board dismissed the claim because of a recovery from a third party. 

CSB 2007-021 and CSB 2007-022 Morris M. Goldings, Boston, MA  (Disbarred)
After the passage of more than two and one-half years since claimants and counsel were given the opportunity to respond to the Board’s requests for information, and no response having been received, the Board dismissed these claims for insufficient evidence of a reimbursable loss.

 

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