An attorney who fabricated legal documents and admitted he was "addicted to lying" has received a nine-month suspension from the Appellate Division, First Department. Nathaniel Weisel of Manhattan was suspended yesterday, ordered to take the ethics portion of the bar exam and "appropriately address his pathological behavior" prior to his reinstatement.
In September 2009, a client of Weisel asked him to start a civil action, which he did not do. To assure the client the matter was being addressed, Weisel created a fraudulent settlement agreement, fictional index number, caption and settlement amount. He randomly chose an opposing counsel and forged his signature on the document. The fabrication was not filed in court. Before the client discovered the settlement had been fabricated, Weisel filed a valid Small Claims action. After the purportedly opposing counsel learned his signature had been forged, Weisel wrote him an apology and said he acted to give himself more time to properly file the action.
Weisel had already received two letters of caution from the Appellate Division, Second Department, sanctions for neglecting several Family Court cases and decertification from Nassau County’s appointed counsel panel. A referee recommended a six-month suspension and require that he retake the ethics portion of the bar exam.
But the First Department wrote that Weisel "not only neglected a legal matter and then created a fictitious document with a forged signature of an innocent attorney in order to conceal the neglect from his client, but also failed to mitigate his troubling history of sanctions, warnings and decertification." The panel thus found a nine-month suspension "appropriate." Justices Richard Andrias (See Profile), David Saxe (See Profile), Karla Moskowitz (See Profile), Helen Freedman (See Profile) and Sheila Abdus-Salaam (See Profile) sat on the panel in Matter of Weisel, M-5145.