A lawyer who ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic candidate in a four-way race for Milford mayor in 2009 was suspended for six years from the practice of law, according to a ruling by Judge Frank Iannotti.
In March, Milford real estate attorney, Genevieve Salvatore was sentenced to two years in federal prison. She had previously pled guilty to mail fraud. She is scheduled to start serving her federal sentence July 11. She must also spend three years on probation and make restitution.
In his suspension decision, Iannotti said that before she applies for reinstatement, Salvatore must make a good faith order to pay court-ordered restitution and to pass the multistate professional responsibility exam. The court appointed Attorney Tracey Lane Russo to serve as a trustee, to take action to protect her clients and to provide an accounting, according to the ruling.
Karyl L. Carrasquilla, Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, asked the judge for a 12-year disbarment.
Salvatore took part in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud conspiracy. According to court records, she and three attorneys participated in a plan to defraud lenders by falsifying mortgage applications and deed records. Officials said the scheme left rental properties throughout New Haven abandoned, and resulted in losses to the lenders.
In the indictments of Salvatore, and three New Haven attorneys — Lawrence Dressler, Jeffrey Weisman, and Bradford Rieger — it was revealed that the group worked out deals with sellers of rental properties, who agreed to accept lower sale prices than what was listed on the sales contracts.
Salvatore, who was admitted to the practice of law in Connecticut in 1999, had once been a successful real estate lawyer and local activist who championed food allergy awareness, prompted by her son’s own peanut allergies. She was also a rising star in Milford politics. As chair of the city’s economic development commission, she launched a recycling initiative and supported the immediate renovation at Jonathan Law High School. In 2009, she nabbed the Democratic mayoral nomination. Dannel Malloy, before he became governor, attended a fundraiser for her. She was endorsed by the New Haven Register, whose editorial page called her an “enthusiastic and quick learner” and a “fresh alternative” to the Republican incumbent.
“I would like to enter this race not as a politician, but as a concerned citizen,” Salvatore said at her first news conference as a candidate.
Not only did she lose the mayor’s race by a wide margin, but on Nov. 19 she continued a stunning fall from grace when she pleaded guilty to taking part in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme. The plea came two years after she was accused of violating attorney ethics rules for her handling of a $1 million real estate deal. A grievance complaint led to an investigation which found that she had violated rules of professional conduct by giving legal advice to a real estate investor and implied that she was representing his interests, even though she was not.
Salvatore faced a potential suspension of her law license, but the case was put on hold for a bigger problem. Last February, Salvatore and three other lawyers were indicted for taking part in the unrelated, widespread scheme that involved 50 mortgages for multi-family homes obtained by fraud over a two-year period.