For suspension for six months -- Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall and Schettino. Opposed -- None. For suspension for three months -- Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall and Schettino. Opposed -- None.
This is a disciplinary action. On May 13, 1969, we appointed Superior Court Judge Alexander Waugh as a Master to hear certain charges against David Friedland, Michael Querques, and Norman Robbins, Attorneys at Law, involving an alleged improper arrangement for the dismissal of two criminal complaints filed in the Municipal Court of the Township of Woodbridge. The charges arose out of a loan sharking operation. After an extended hearing between April 6 and June 17, 1970, Judge Waugh found all three attorneys guilty of improper conduct and recommended disciplinary action.
The genesis of this action was a usurious loan made by John Di Gilio to Julius Pereira. During the late summer of 1966, Pereira, the owner of a car wash in Iselin, Middlesex County, was experiencing severe financial difficulties. Unable to borrow through legitimate lending institutions, he sought aid from private sources. At the suggestion of a
Gerald Grimaldi, he was introduced to Di Gilio and a loan was arranged. By the terms of the loan, Pereira received $1,000 in cash to be repaid at the rate of $50 a week interest until he could repay the entire principal at "one time." For about a month, Pereira made his $50 a week interest payments in cash to Di Gilio's messenger, the "Moose." Later, in accordance with a telephone call he received, Pereira began making payments to Grimaldi, "Little Gerry." Eventually, Pereira began making his interest payments by check made out payable to "cash." The checks were cashed by several persons including Grimaldi, his secretary, and Di Gilio's wife.
During the late summer of 1967, Pereira borrowed an additional $1,000, and his interest payments were increased to $100 per week. Either or both loans could be canceled only if the entire principal were paid off in a lump sum, a payment Pereira was, of course, in no position to make.
Unable to meet the $100 weekly interest payments, Pereira defaulted. Thereafter, in January of 1968, he received a visit from two of Di Gilio's henchmen who left him with the clear impression that violence might come to him if he did not resume payments. As a result, Pereira communicated his problem to the State Police.
In February, the loan was renegotiated because of Pereira's inability to meet its terms. Payment was reduced to $50 a week upon Pereira's agreement to repay $4,000 for the $2,000 borrowed.
Although he accepted the "deal," Pereira soon decided to stop all payments, and he notified Grimaldi of his intention. As a result, Pereira received a threatening telephone call on April 25, 1968. The caller identified himself as "Johnny" and told Pereira that unless he resumed payments to "Little Gerry," the caller would "come down and chop your f head off." Pereira taped the call and after contacting the State Police, made a complaint in municipal court on April 26 charging John Di Gilio "did with intent to extort money or other thing of value, directly or indirectly, threaten to
kill the complainant * * *." On May 22, 1968, Pereira was visited by four men at his car wash who proceeded to damage the premises while Pereira hid in his office. After they left, Pereira immediately notified Detective Sergeant Justin of the State Police who, after inspecting the premises, filed a complaint in the municipal court based on information and belief charging Di Gilio with malicious destruction of property in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:122-1. Although Di Gilio was later indicted with two others for conspiracy to make the threatening telephone call and to damage Pereira's property he was acquitted of these charges. Nevertheless, the Master found as a fact that he was connected with both events. Our own examination of the record convinces us beyond any doubt that both the property damage and the previous threatening telephone call resulted from Pereira's refusal to live up to the terms of Di Gilio's vicious loan sharking arrangement and that Di Gilio was indirectly responsible for both events.
This brings us to the roles played by the three respondents in this affair.
After warrants were issued on the two complaints, Di Gilio was arrested in Jersey City on May 23 and was arraigned the same day. Respondent Querques represented him at the arraignment in Woodbridge Municipal Court. In this capacity Querques secured Di Gilio's release on a recognizance bond pending the outcome of a preliminary hearing which ...