After reading DOM's post here, I felt disbelief regarding the misconduct committed by attorneys Emmanuel Roy and Peter Mayas. Mr. Petruzzi's quote - "Guys like them are the reason people hate lawyers … I took it personally because this is what I do for a living. Lawyers are supposed to help people..." and Rumpole's comment to the post - "Our profession is littered with the likes of those two scummy lawyers..." were a gut check.
Maybe I am naive but setting aside the snark, isn't the law a profession? An honorable calling? At the end of the day, what else do we have besides our word and our reputation? Isn't Atticus The Bar?
And then the DBR reports this story regarding a lawsuit against attorney Jose "Pepe" Herrera and his client, former Sweetwater Mayor and now imprisoned Manuel Maroño, with accusations of fraud and malpractice in the sale of a tow truck company and using the Mayor's office to threaten a business rival.
Two such stories in one week, is two too many.
From the DBR:
The civil lawsuit alleges Maroño was the true owner of Southeast Towing Inc. from 2001 to 2008 even though his name did not appear in public records ... Maroño insisted the 2008 sale of the tow company to Sosa must be in cash for $250,000, the lawsuit states.
Herrera ... was hired to protect Sosa's interest in the sale... [but] Sosa claims he learned after hiring Herrera that the Miami lawyer had been legal counsel to Maroño. The complaint said Herrera failed to disclose his relationship or obtain a conflict waiver.
The complaint states Maroño persuaded Sosa to keep the mayor's former partner, co-defendant Peter Hernandez, to run the company.
When the company closed after Marono's arrest, a worried Sosa paid Herrera $28,000 in cash to prepare the legal documents and add his son, Raul Sosa Jr., as a co-owner to secure his interest after Hernandez persuaded him to change the name of the company.But "Herrera did absolutely nothing to protect Sosa or Sosa Jr.," the lawsuit states. "Herrera would constantly come up with one 'delay excuse' after another when the Sosas requested status."Sosa turned to Herrera, paying him $17,000 cash to execute the sale back to Maroño for $220,000—a figure insisted on by Herrera, according to the lawsuit. "Another reason he sold so cheap was because defendant Herrera failed to have the proper legal documents executed to evidence the earlier sale and because all payments had been made in cash," the complaint states.Maroño then pressured Sosa to accept an "all-finance" deal where would pay him Maroño (sic) the purchase price over 10 years at a low interest rate, the lawsuit states.
This does not look good.Sosa, to protect his interests, directed Herrera to execute UCC-1 forms in order to use the company's 13 trucks as collateral, but the lawyer failed to file the documents, the lawsuit claims. He later learned the company, now under Maroño and Hernandez's control, placed its own UCC-1s on the vehicles, "defrauding Sosa of his security interest," the lawsuit claims.
- nominee ownership
- cash-only sales
- undisclosed dual representation and no conflict waivers
- politician client convicted for accepting bribes
- lawyer taking multiple cash-only payments
The alleged cash payments to attorney Herrera total $45,000.00, or 20% of the reduced $220,000.00 sell-back price that the suit claims attorney Herrera insisted his client Sosa agree to, to sell back the business for $30,000 less than the purchase price to Marono, attorney Herrera's other client.
That's not all.
Does this stuff really go on?"I don't sue many lawyers in this town, but I don't have any compunction about suing him," said Richard J. Diaz, who is representing Sosa. Diaz said his client received a "veiled threat" from a friend of Herrera's that he better drop the lawsuit or "it will be worse for him."
Diaz said his client plans to file a Florida Bar complaint against Herrera.
There is a pending Bar complaint against Herrera stemming from his representation of a Miccosukee member who failed to pay a $3.2 million verdict in a vehicular homicide civil trial.
According to this article, “CBS 4 and our news partners at El Nuevo Herald have learned there are ongoing investigations in the city…” I leave the criminal stuff to DOM and Rumpole.
Mr. Petruzzi and Rumpole are correct. But, like them, most practice to honor the profession.
N.B. Great use of "compunction" by Mr. Diaz.