Two Long Island attorneys were suspended for two years in connection to their work probating a will for a client who named them and the client’s accountant as alternative beneficiaries.
In disciplining John M. Bigler of Wantagh and his associate, Louis Pugliese, the Appellate Division, Second Department scrutinized their work for Bernard Goldman, who wanted his elderly sister, Sylvia Fisher, cared for if he predeceased her. The will established a supplemental needs trust for Fisher as the primary beneficiary. In addition to being alternative beneficiaries, Bigler and Pugliese were named cotrustees of the trust.
On Wednesday, in Matter of Bigler, 2010-10148 and Matter of Pugliese, 201-10150, the panel said “the record reflects a deliberate pattern of conduct designed to promote the interests of the respondent[s] over Goldman’s interests, and those of Fisher, the sister whom Goldman sought to protect.”
The panel said “under these circumstances” Bigler should not have let Pugliese draw up the will and Pugliese should have declined to draft it. Though both were aware Goldman needed to consult independent counsel, both never made “more than cursory efforts to secure the same,” the panel said.
Separately, the Second Department disbarred three attorneys Wednesday.
In Matter of Zucker, 2011-06454, Isaac Zucker of Garden City was disbarred by virtue of his February 2013 guilty plea in Nassau County Supreme Court to second-degree grand larceny, a felony. Zucker admitted to embezzling more than $600,000 from his synagogue, where he served as treasurer.
In Matter of Sherman, 2013-11490, Charles S. Sherman of Garden City resigned, acknowledging he was the subject of disciplinary probes and could not successfully fight any disciplinary charges.
In Matter of Link, 2013-02117, Robert E. Link of East Norwich was disbarred after failing to respond in a disciplinary matter. The grievance committee started the proceeding after Link was convicted of two counts of second-degree attempted criminal contempt after altercations with his wife that breached an order of protection.