Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re D'Angelo

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

December 29, 2017

In the Matter of Frank G. D'Angelo, Jr., an attorney and counselor-at-law. Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District, petitioner; Frank G. D'Angelo, Jr., respondent. Attorney Registration No. 2069243

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING instituted by the Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District. By decision and order on motion of this Court dated August 24, 2016, the Grievance Committee was authorized to institute and prosecute a disciplinary proceeding against the respondent based on the acts of professional misconduct set forth in a verified petition dated January 28, 2016, the respondent was barred, based upon the doctrine of collateral estoppel, from relitigating any of the factual allegations raised in charges one through four of the petition, and the matter was referred to the Honorable Elaine Jackson Stack, as Special Referee, to hear and report. The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department on July 9, 1986.

          Catherine A. Sheridan, Hauppauge, NY (Robert H. Cabble of counsel), for petitioner.

          Michael F. Mongelli II, P.C., Flushing, NY, for respondent.

          RANDALL T. ENG, P.J., WILLIAM F. MASTRO, REINALDO E. RIVERA, MARK C. DILLON, RUTH C. BALKIN, JJ.

          OPINION & ORDER

          PER CURIAM.

         The Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District served the respondent with a verified petition, dated January 28, 2016, containing 12 charges of professional misconduct. Following a prehearing conference on December 1, 2016, and a hearing on January 30, 2017, and February 14, 2017, the Special Referee sustained all the charges. The Grievance Committee now moves to confirm the Special Referee's report and impose such discipline as the Court deems just and proper. The respondent opposes the motion to the extent that charges three, seven, and eleven, each alleging that the respondent engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, were sustained. The respondent contends that the cases cited by the Grievance Committee are inapposite, and that disbarment is not warranted. The respondent asks that the Court impose a public censure in view of the mitigating circumstances.

         Charges One to Four: Surcharge

         Charge one alleges that the respondent engaged in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer, in violation of former Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][7]) and its successor, rule 8.4(h) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), as follows: By order dated September 30, 1997, the Supreme Court, Queens County, determined that Albert K. was unable to manage his person and property by reason that his functional level was substantially impaired by dementia, and appointed a guardian for his person and property pursuant to article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law. By order dated July 23, 2004, the Supreme Court, Queens County, appointed the respondent the successor guardian of the person and property of Albert K., who was then a 76-year-old incapacitated person. In and around early 2007, the respondent, in his capacity as guardian, appointed his wife, Ann Marie D'Angelo (hereinafter Ann Marie), as the nurse geriatric care manager for Albert K. Ann Marie provided geriatric care management services to Albert K. through her solely-owned entity named Family Care Connections, LLC (hereinafter Family Care), which she formed in and around January 2007. Family Care operated from the same office suite as the respondent's law firm. The respondent paid to Family Care out of Albert K.'s estate the aggregate sum of $111, 881.98 for services to Albert K.

         In an order dated October 13, 2009, the Supreme Court, Queens County, among other things, confirmed the report of a court-appointed examiner regarding the respondent's accounts pertaining to the guardianship of Albert K., and directed a hearing to be held to address the objections of the examiner to the payments the respondent made to Family Care on Albert K.'s behalf, and whether the respondent should be surcharged for those payments. A hearing was held on December 7, 2009, at which the respondent and Ann Marie offered testimony.

         In a decision dated December 8, 2010, the Supreme Court determined that the respondent's final account should be approved; however, it determined that the sum of $108, 881.59 constituted excessive fees paid to Family Care and Ann Marie. It approved the sum of only $3, 000 paid to Family Care for the period May 2007 through September 2007, when Albert K. was at home. The Supreme Court further determined that: (1) the respondent should be denied commissions and an attorney's fee, "as his actions were in the best interests of him and his family rather than his ward"; (2) the respondent was personally liable to pay the court examiner's legal fees in the amount of $14, 625 for identifying and asserting objections to the account; and (3) the respondent should be surcharged the amount of the foregoing items in the aggregate sum of $123, 506.59, without interest. The Supreme Court issued an order dated December 28, 2010, consistent with its decision dated December 8, 2010, judicially settling the account. In an order dated May 11, 2011, the Supreme Court denied the respondent's motion for reargument.

         The respondent appealed the order to this Court, and the Public Administrator of Queens County (hereinafter the Public Administrator) cross-appealed. By decision and order dated June 6, 2012, this Court affirmed the order insofar as appealed from, reversed the order insofar as cross-appealed from, and granted the Public Administrator's request to include 9% interest on the sum surcharged (see Matter of Albert K. [D'Angelo], 96 A.D.3d 750). This Court found, inter alia, that to the extent that the court examiner's fees exceeded the statutory guidelines, the respondent's "covert self-dealing demonstrates the requisite extraordinary circumstances' which entitle a court to depart from the statutory schedule" (id. at 753, quoting 22 NYCRR former 806.17[c]).

         Charge two alleges that the respondent engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, in violation of former Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(5) (22 NYCRR1200.3[a][5]), and rule 8.4(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), based on the factual specifications alleged in charge one. Charge three alleges that the respondent engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, in violation of former Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(4) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][4]), and rule 8.4(c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), based on the factual specifications alleged in charge one. Charge four alleges that the respondent engaged in a conflict of interest in which his professional judgment was, or was at risk of being, adversely affected by his own financial, business, property, or other interests, in violation of former Code of Professional Responsibility DR 5-101(a) (22 NYCRR 1200.20[a]), and/or rule 1.7(a)(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), based on the factual specifications alleged in charge one.

         Charges Five to Eight: Sale of Bridgehampton Property

         Charge five alleges that the respondent engaged in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness as a lawyer, in violation of former Code of Professional Responsibility DR 1-102(a)(7) (22 NYCRR 1200.3[a][7]) and its successor, rule 8.4(h) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0), as follows: In his capacity as guardian for Albert K., the respondent determined that it was in the best interest of Albert K. to sell a real estate parcel owned by Albert K. located in Bridgehampton (hereinafter the Bridgehampton property). The respondent negotiated the sale of the Bridgehampton property with attorney Carolyn Naranjo, who acted as the real estate broker for the purchasers, through her real estate brokerage, Elleira Realty Corp. (hereinafter Elleira Realty). The respondent and Naranjo knew each other from their involvement in the Columbian Lawyers Association, and Naranjo occasionally referred clients to the respondent's law firm.

         As guardian for Albert K., the respondent executed a contract of sale for the Bridgehampton property, dated December 8, 2005. Among other things, the contract provided for a purchase price of $3.1 million, the appraised value of the property. The contract of sale provided that the purchasers, Gregory G. Galdi and Linda M. Galdi, had not dealt with any other realtor except Elleira Realty, and that the purchasers agreed to pay the brokerage commission earned thereby pursuant to a separate agreement. Pursuant to a letter dated December 7, 2005, the purchasers agreed to pay Elleira Realty a purchaser's commission of 3% of the purchase price of the Bridegehampton property. The purchasers eventually paid to Elleira Realty the sum of $94, 200 in connection with the purchase of the Bridgehampton property. Naranjo formed Elleira Realty on or about December 5, 2005.

         At the time of the contract of sale for the Bridgehampton property, the respondent was also a real estate broker. The respondent engaged Naranjo to form a real estate brokerage, Castleworks Realty, LLC (hereinafter Castleworks), which was formed on or about December 14, 2005. Castleworks was located in the same office suite as the respondent's law firm, and Ann Marie was the chair or chief executive ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.