A North Arlington, New Jersey, man who had practiced bankruptcy law in Bridgeport was in court Wednesday for his role in allegedly stealing nearly $10,000 from a client in a bankruptcy and foreclosure case.
Alfred Cali, 61, had his case continued Wednesday in Bridgeport Superior Court to Nov. 13. On that date, he will face Judge Tracy Lee Dayton. Cali, who previously practiced law with Cali & Poi, is charged with one count of second-degree larceny in connection with the theft.
Cali, who was arrested by inspectors from the Statewide Prosecution Bureau in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, allegedly deposited $9,614 he received from a client into his personal account. The money was supposed to go to the lender in the bankruptcy proceeding. That client, Fidel Morales, had paid Cali a $20,000 retainer, according to court documents.
Cali, the arrest warrants says, advised Morales to write him a $9,614 check for cash. He told Morales that the money would go into his attorney’s trustee account and then the funds would be forwarded to the lender, according to the arrest warrant. Cali, the warrant says, instead deposited the money into his personal bank account and never made a payment to the lender, authorities said.
Since the mortgage holder did not receive the adequate protection payments as ordered, Morales’ bankruptcy petition and home were in jeopardy.
The arrest was the result of an investigation by the Statewide Prosecution Bureau, following a complaint from the Statewide Grievance Committee, which regulates attorney conduct in the state.
Cali, who was arrested in New Jersey and brought back to Connecticut, was charged with the second-degree larceny count, which is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Cali has been released on bond.
Authorities said between March and September 2016, the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee sent six notices by registered mail to Cali’s office and home. The notices sent to his home were returned marked as “unable to forward.” Those sent to his residence were not returned, authorities said.
Cali was suspended from the practice of law in May 2016, after failing to appear at an interim suspension hearing.
Mark Dupois, communications officer for the state’s Division of Criminal Justice, has said there will be no comment from authorities on the matter.
Cali was represented in court Wednesday by Thomas Cocco of Bridgeport-based Cocco & Ginsberg.
Cocco reiterated what he told the Connecticut Law Tribune earlier in the month. ”Everything is not always as it seems,” he said. “We shouldn’t jump to judgment. Everybody deserves their day in court.”