In the Matter of William E. Baroni, (admitted as William Edward Baroni, Jr.), an attorney and counselor-at-law: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, William E. Baroni, Respondent.
proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee
for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, William E.
Baroni, was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a
Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the
First Judicial Department on July 12, 2011.
Dopico, Chief Attorney, Attorney Grievance Committee, New
York (Raymond Vallejo, of counsel), for petitioner.
Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC (Richard M. Maltz, of
counsel), for respondent.
Rolando T. Acosta, Presiding Justice, Dianne T. Renwick,
Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Barbara R. Kapnick, Troy K. Webber,
William E. Baroni was admitted to the practice of law in the
State of New York by the First Judicial Department on July
12, 2011, under the name William Edward Baroni, Jr.
Respondent's registered address is in New Jersey but this
Court has jurisdiction over him because he was admitted in
the First Department.
November 4, 2016, respondent was convicted, after a jury
trial, in the United States District Court for the District
of New Jersey, of conspiring to obtain by fraud, knowingly
convert, and intentionally misapply property of an
organization receiving federal benefits in violation of 18
USC §§ 666(a)(1)(A) and 371, obtaining by fraud,
knowingly converting and intentionally misapplying property
in violation of 18 USC §§ 666(a)(1)(A) and 2,
conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 USC §
1349, wire fraud (two counts) in violation of 18 USC
§§ 1343 and 2, conspiracy against civil rights in
violation of 18 USC § 241, and deprivation of civil
rights in violation of 18 USC § 242, felonies under the
United States Code.
March 29, 2017, respondent was sentenced to 24 months
imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release, a
fine of $7, 500, 500 hours of community service, and
restitution in the amount of $14, 314.04.
conviction stemmed from his misuse of his position as Deputy
Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New
Jersey by conspiring with others, including the Port
Authority's Executive Director, to punish the Mayor of
Fort Lee, New Jersey, for not endorsing New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie's re-election bid, by improperly closing
lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013,
thereby causing the streets of Fort Lee to become clogged
with traffic. Respondent and his co-conspirators fabricated
and advanced a false story that the lane reductions were for
a traffic study so that they could use Port Authority
resources and personnel to carry out their scheme, and
deliberately ignored inquiries from the Mayor of Fort Lee
regarding the closures.
notice of motion dated January 13, 2017, the Departmental
Disciplinary Committee (DDC) seeks an order determining that
the crime of which respondent had been convicted is a
"serious crime" as defined by Judiciary Law §
90(4)(d); suspending respondent from the practice of law
pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(4)(f) and the Rules for
Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) 1240.12(b)(2) and
(c)(2); and directing respondent to show cause before a
referee pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(4)(g) and 22
response, respondent, through counsel, joins in the DDC's
petition for an order deeming his conviction a "serious
crime" and directing that a sanction hearing be held.
Respondent does not explicitly oppose the imposition of an
interim suspension but states that he intends to appeal his
conviction and, if vacated, he reserves the right to move
under Judiciary Law § 90(5) to vacate any "serious
crime" finding and interim suspension imposed.
crime for which respondent was convicted is a "serious
crime" within the meaning of Judiciary Law §
90(4)(d). Judiciary Law § 90(4)(d) defines "serious
crime, " in pertinent part, as "any criminal
offense denominated a felony under the laws of... the United
States which does not constitute a felony under the laws of
this state." We have previously deemed crimes similar to
the ones respondent has been convicted as "serious
crimes" (see e.g. Matter of Newkirk, 141 A.D.3d
178 [1st Dept 2016][attorney convicted of serious crime of
wire fraud]; Matter of Davis, 70 A.D.3d 53');">70 A.D.3d 53 [1st Dept
2009][attorney convicted of serious crimes of conspiracy to
commit bank and wire fraud]; Matter of Fasciana, 36
A.D.3d 9 [1st Dept 2006][attorney convicted of serious crimes
including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud]);
Matter of Klein, 28 A.D.3d 102');">28 A.D.3d 102 [1st Dept
2006][attorney convicted of serious crimes conspiracy to
commit wire fraud and wire fraud]).
we have consistently held that during the pendency of a
"serious crime" proceeding, it is appropriate to
suspend an attorney, pursuant to Judiciary Law §
90(4)(f), who has been convicted of a felony and is serving a
term of probation or imprisonment (see e.g. Matter of
Lam, 104 A.D.3d 801');">104 A.D.3d 801 [1st Dept 2013]; Matter of
Schneider, 97 A.D.3d 152');">97 A.D.3d 152 [1st Dept 2012]).
respondent has been sentenced to a two-year term of
incarceration. Furthermore, as noted, respondent does not
oppose the imposition of an interim suspension, and thus,
there is no reason not to grant the application to impose an
interim suspension. Respondent's possible appeal is not a
ground to deny the motion, including the imposition of an