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A Westbury, N.Y., attorney who forged the signatures of his personal injury client and her doctor, and then used the documents in an appeal, has been disbarred by the Appellate Division, 2nd Department. Sean M. Bunting, who was admitted to practice in 1994, was found to have committed four violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility, including making false statements under oath and breaching his duty as a notary. Most seriously, he was found to have knowingly created and used false evidence. According to an Aug. 23 Appellate Division order confirming a special referee’s report, Bunting turned himself in to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which has not brought charges against him. A spokesman for Eastern District U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf declined to comment. Bunting did not dispute his guilt before the referee. He cited as mitigating circumstances the breakup of his law partnership, a 70-hour work week, family trauma and a bout with alcohol abuse, but to no avail. “I’m disappointed, of course, that they disbarred him,” said his attorney, John Ray of Miller Place. “We were hoping for suspension.” The case against Bunting arose from his 1998 work for A. Kirsten Gallardo, who had a personal injury case. A year after being hired, Bunting represented Gallardo at a deposition, the court said. When the transcript arrived, rather than have Gallardo read, correct and sign it, he signed her name and notarized the signature without telling her. He also edited a medical report prepared in connection with the case, deleting Dr. Frank D. Cohen’s signature, adding a paragraph, then signing and notarizing Cohen’s name, without the doctor’s knowledge, the court said. The five-judge panel added that Bunting used the transcript, the report and an affidavit that he wrote and signed for Gallardo in opposition to a defense motion for summary judgment — which he lost. Never telling Gallardo about the June 2000 dismissal of her suit by Justice Antonio Brandveen of Nassau County Supreme Court, Bunting appealed, inserting the same bogus exhibits into the record filed with the 2nd Department, where he lost again. The problems came to light in March 2001, when Gallardo, unable to make contact with Bunting, hired another lawyer to look into the matter. Referee Joseph A. Esquirol Jr. found that Bunting violated the code by neglecting Gallardo’s case. Testifying under oath before the Grievance Committee for the 10th Judicial District in May 2001, Bunting denied forging Gallardo’s signature. This prompted a sharp rebuke from the Appellate Division. “The respondent knew or should have known that the noted testimony was false and misleading in that he knew the subject document was one that he had falsely created, falsely signed, and falsely notarized,” the per curiam opinion said. In September 2001, Bunting recanted, admitting to counsel for the committee that he had falsified the signature. Ray emphasized that his client never lied to the referee. The committee was represented by Robert P. Guido and Dianne M. Saccone of Syosset, N.Y. The appellate panel was comprised of Presiding Justice A. Gail Prudenti, and Justices David Ritter, Fred T. Santucci, Myriam J. Altman and Anita R. Florio.

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