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You’d think the New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board, which does nothing but review attorney ethics cases, had seen it all when it comes to wrongdoing by lawyers. Nonetheless, the board was recently moved to note that it has rarely seen such “callousness” and “evil” as it saw in Stanley Purzycki, for whom it recommended disbarment by an 8-0 vote. In an opinion made public last week, the DRB found that the Hillsborough, N.J., sole practitioner defrauded religious organizations and 10 people, including his relatives, out of more than $1 million over 24 years. “In short, respondent’s conduct toward these innocent and trusting victims was outrageous,” chairman Lee Hymerling wrote in In re Purzycki, No. DRB 99-439. “Rarely do we see such callousness — indeed evil — in our review of attorney disciplinary matters.” Purzycki’s scheme involved taking money from his business partners, clients and investors and promising to invest it in real estate, according to the DRB. But he kept some of the money for himself and tried to cover up his actions with numerous misrepresentations, the board found. The DRB determined that Purzycki violated RPC 1.15(a) for knowingly misappropriating client funds; RPC 1.15(b) for failing to promptly notify a client of receipt of property in which the client has an interest; RPC 1.7(a) and (b) for engaging in a conflict of interest; RPC 1.8 for making a prohibited transaction; RPC 8.4(c) for being engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and RPC 8.4(b) for committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on an attorney. In his dealings with The Mount Stanton Associates, a land investment general partnership in which Purzycki had a 30 percent interest beginning in 1985, the DRB found that he wrote checks to himself, misappropriated funds, falsified land purchase documents and forged a signature on a closing statement. The religious groups lent money to Purzycki as investments throughout the 1970s and 1980s believing that they could receive a better return than they would from a bank. However, Purzycki did not repay them, the DRB found. The Capuchin order of Catholic priests sued and obtained a $482,843 judgment against Purzycki in August 1996. In June 1998, the Little Servant Sisters fund-raising campaign and St. Joseph’s Seniors Residence obtained a default judgment for $674,715, and Father Ignatius Kuziemski and the Fathers of the Mission of Bolivia were awarded a total of $61,628. The wrongdoing reached family members as well, the DRB said. Purzycki’s uncle and aunt, Jan and Henryka Suchcicki, gave their nephew $100,000 in 1992 as an investment to be repaid within a year at 9 percent interest. However, after more than two years, Purzycki had only repaid $9,000. The Suchcickis sued him and won a judgment for $124,457 in June 1997 and another judgment for $14,132 in March 1998, along with a malpractice judgment against his former law firm for $145,151. On April 12, 2000, Purzycki was convicted on three counts of mail fraud for using the U.S. Postal Service to further his scheme against the Suchcickis. U.S. District Judge Joseph Greenaway Jr. sentenced him in November to 46 months in prison and ordered him to pay $100,000 restitution. Purzycki was not represented by counsel during the disciplinary proceedings and waived appearance for oral arguments. OUT OF ORDER Joel Solow isn’t afraid to stand up to an administrative law judge, but his excessive arguing, yelling and demands for recusal have crossed the line, says the DRB, voting 5-1 to recommend a reprimand. The dissenter favored a three-month suspension. In re Solow, No. DRB 99-415. The board found that in 1997, Solow, a partner with Newark, N.J.’s Freeman & Bass, inappropriately challenged and antagonized two judges, often yelling at them and ignoring their orders in a misguided attempt to advocate for his clients. At a June 1997 proceeding, Solow insisted that Administrative Law Judge Richard DeSteno recuse himself because he is legally blind and Solow feared that he would be unable to adequately evaluate exhibits. Solow also routinely referred to DeSteno as “the blind judge” in his motion papers. At a May 1997 hearing, Solow loudly accused Judge Jane Polisar of being prejudiced against foreigners and demanded her recusal. By 1998, Solow was making recusal motions in every case and had filed about 100 such requests, the board noted. The DRB found that Solow violated RPC 3.2 for failing to expedite litigation and showing a lack of courtesy and consideration; RPC 3.5(c) for disrupting a tribunal; and RPC 8.4(d) for engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. “Although a heated argument made in the name of zealous representation of a client at times is understandable and even excused, respondent’s conduct went far beyond that level,” Hymerling wrote. “It is the repetitive nature of his misconduct that makes it difficult to view his outbursts as passionate advocacy,” rather than “a conscious, disruptive course of action.” However, the DRB noted that Solow could not promise that he would not behave the same way again and it condemned his use of the phrase “the blind judge” as “appallingly insensitive.” Solow declines to comment on the DRB’s recommendation. THE PAJEROWSKI TEST Clark Pease suspected it was inappropriate to have a tow-truck operator refer accident victims to him as potential clients, but the resulting personal injury cases were temptingly lucrative. The result is anything but. The DRB voted 5-4 to recommend a one-year suspended suspension, while the minority voted for a three-month active suspension. The matter is the first runner case before the DRB since the state supreme court expressed its abhorrence of “lay referrals” in In re Pajerowski, 156 N.J. 509 (1998). In that case, the court disbarred an attorney who used such referrals, but the justices did not set down a bright-line penalty. In 1989, Pease’s firm, Blumstein, Block & Pease of Merchantville, N.J., paid tow-truck operator William Whiting as an “investigator,” who also referred at least a dozen cases to the firm, according to the DRB in In re Pease, No. DRB 99-457. The firm paid Whiting $15,000 for his work, which it sometimes labeled as “outside services” on the memo portion of his checks, the DRB stated. Pease had been a practicing attorney for only five years at the time, and the clients who came through Whiting generated more than $200,000 for the firm. The cozy relationship with Whiting ended after a client retained another attorney who then learned that Whiting had improperly solicited the case, according to the opinion. The attorney contacted disciplinary authorities. Pease acknowledged during his District Ethics Committee hearing that the tactics were inappropriate and that Whiting was not actually an investigator, but only made referrals to the firm. The board found that Pease violated RPC 5.3(c) for failing to supervise a nonlawyer employee, and RPC 7.2(c), 7.3(f) and 8.4(a) for paying someone for recommending the firm, in violation of the professional code. GOING OUT OF BUSINESS After T. John Forkin’s father died in 1997, he turned to alcohol and closed his Bridgeton solo practice — but failed to tell his clients. As a result, the DRB recommended that Forkin be suspended for a year and obtain approval from a psychiatrist before being reinstated. The DRB said in In re Forkin, No. DRB 99-293, that he had demonstrated a pattern of neglect with three clients and failed to return money owed to them. The DRB found that Forkin violated RPC 1.1(b) for lacking diligence, RPC 1.5 for failing to return an unearned fee and RPC 1.16(d) for improperly terminating representation. In a second matter, In re Forkin, No. DRB 99-335, Forkin traded away a Mercedes knowing that a bank had a security interest in the vehicle, then misled a law clerk to believe the car was still in his possession, the DRB found. In addition, it determined that he had altered the purchase price on the certificate of title, resulting in lower sales taxes on the vehicle. For that, the board found that Forkin also violated RPC 3.3(a)1 for making a false statement to a tribunal and RPC 8.4(c) for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misprepresentation. Although Forkin stated that his misrepresentations were unintentional, the DRB said the falsehoods were “too numerous to be excused as unpremeditated.” Forkin’s attorney, Francis Hartman, says the DRB did not take seriously the death of Forkin’s father as a mitigating factor in his behavior and that community service is a more appropriate sanction. DUE DILIGENCE The DRB recommended a three-month suspension for James Wolfe III for failing to follow through on two cases. His behavior led to one case being dismissed and a client losing medical insurance coverage in the other. Wolfe believed he was no longer handling the clients’ cases after his former firm, Lofton & Wolfe of Newark, merged with Brown & Childress in East Orange, N.J., in 1993, but did not promptly inform the clients of the change, according to In re Wolfe, No. DRB 00-050. Among the violations, the DRB found that Wolfe violated RPC 1.1(a) for grossly neglecting a client and RPC 1.3 for failing to be diligent. Wolfe had been admonished in 1998 for failing to advise a client of the status of a case, in violation of RPC 1.4(a). The DRB had rejected as excessive a recommendation by the District VA Ethics Committee to suspend Wolfe for two years. Although ordinarily such neglectful conduct would warrant only a reprimand, the DRB noted that because of Wolfe’s previous disciplinary record, a more stringent sanction should be imposed.

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