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A Norwalk, Conn., attorney has been suspended from the practice of law for one year for taking advantage of an Egyptian immigrant and threatening to expose him to the FBI as a terrorist sympathizer after he hired another lawyer. Norwalk attorney Sherri B. Paige was suspended by Stamford, Conn., Judge Arthur A. Hiller last month. She must apply for reinstatement and achieve a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam to get her law license back. Paige’s attorney, Geoffrey Brander of Brander & Ponzi in Stamford, said his client plans to appeal the decision. Brander will also ask for a stay from Hiller pending the outcome of the appeal. “I’m not saying my client was an angel, but all in all the decision left something to be desired,” he said. ” … There were a number of findings made I didn’t believe met … the standard of clear and convincing [evidence] versus a preponderance of evidence. It may have met the lower standard but it did not meet the higher standard.” Layman Sedan had hired Paige to represent him in his application for immigration. At their first meeting in January 2001, Zidan received a list of requirements needed to process his application. Among other requirements, Paige told Zidan he needed to get life insurance. She then recommended her husband as the insurance agent without disclosing their relationship, the judge found. At her presentment hearing, Paige gave the court an allegedly forged document claiming Zidan had known her husband was the insurance agent. Paige also told the court she was never Zidan’s attorney, but instead was retained by his wife Yvette Lopez, an American citizen. In spite of claiming not to represent Zidan, she filed papers with immigration officials saying she was his attorney, Hiller found. “She took advantage of her own client and, even filing an appearance on his behalf, continued and continues to attempt to avoid and deny her responsibilities to her former client,” he wrote. The judge noted, if it’s true she was not Zidan’s lawyer, she “perpetrated a fraud on the INS.” The tensions arose in May 2002 when Zidan got impatient with Paige’s representation. Immigration officials had rejected his application because it did not contain the right paperwork, and Zidan asked for his $1,750 retainer back. Paige refused. Zidan hired another attorney, Judith Sporn of Westport, Conn. At Sporn’s suggestion, Zidan got his file returned from the then-named Immigration & Naturalization Service’s Hartford office. That ticked Paige off. According to Hiller’s ruling, she contacted U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, D-4th District, and Ethan Asner, chief of the INS, stating that Zidan’s conduct was “outrageous.” The Egyptian man then told Paige he intended to file a grievance complaint against her. That prompted Paige to tell Sporn that doing so would increase “any interest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Zidan as an Egyptian immigrant and possible terrorist sympathizer,” according to Hiller’s ruling.

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