This matter coming before the Court on an order to show cause why JOSE M. FRANCO of UNION CITY should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined for his violation of DR. 1-102(A), DR. 7-101(A)(2), and DR. 9-102(A) and (C) and said JOSE M. FRANCO having failed to appear before this Court on the return date of said order to show cause, and good cause appearing;
It is ORDERED that the report of the Disciplinary Review Board recommending that respondent be disbarred is hereby adopted; and it is further
Ordered that JOSE M. FRANCO be disbarred and that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys of this State, effective immediately; and it is further
Ordered that JOSE M. FRANCO be and hereby is permanently restrained and enjoined from practicing law; and it is further
Ordered that respondent comply with all the regulations of the Disciplinary Review Board governing suspended, disbarred or resigned attorneys; and it is further
Ordered that respondent reimburse the Administrative Office of the Courts for appropriate administrative costs, including production of transcripts.
Decision and Recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board
Notice to the respondent was forwarded regular and certified mail to his last known address, in care of his mother. The certified package was returned with handwritten and stamped notation, "moved, left no address." The regular mail was returned with the notation "addressee unknown."
To the Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of New Jersey:
This matter is before the Board based upon two presentments filed by the District VI Ethics Committee. Both presentments concern respondent's misappropriation of client funds as well as numerous failures to carry out contracts of employment and gross neglect.
The two presentments forwarded by the Committee may be individually summarized as follows:
I. DRB 83-1 -- MORENO COMPLAINT
The respondent convinced Piedad Moreno, the complainant herein, to invest in a Union City, New Jersey apartment building. Ms. Moreno had no previous investment experience. In reliance on the respondent's advice, she gave him two checks for $1,000.00, one dated May 5, 1979, and the other dated May 8, 1979. She further gave respondent $500.00 in cash, but did not obtain a receipt from him. On May 18, 1979, she gave respondent a check for $385.00 as a legal fee for his representation of her in the purchase of the property. The respondent thereafter advised Ms. Moreno of the continuing monthly expenses resulting from the purchase, including interest payments and insurance. He advised that the transaction would take two to three months to complete. Additionally, he gave to Ms. Moreno what he identified as the rent roll which allegedly identified tenants and their monthly rents.
While the Union City transaction was pending, the respondent advised Ms. Moreno of an opportunity to participate in the
purchase of a building in Fort Lee as respondent's partner. To that end, respondent took the complainant to see a building in Fort Lee, and discussed with complainant the disposition of the property following purchase.
The complainant invested in that purchase by giving her check in the amount of $1,500.00 to respondent on June 26, 1979.
Ms. Moreno attempted to ascertain the status of her purchase and investment on numerous occasions by telephoning the respondent. He advised that the matters were nearly settled and he would notify her when the papers were ready to be signed.
Six months after complainant's initial payment to respondent, in November, 1979, respondent mailed several documents to Ms. Moreno, without any cover letter or explanatory note. Among these documents was a purported deed involving the transfer of the Union City property. Although the alleged grantor was an individual, one Luis Calazar, whose signature appeared on the deed, a corporate form of deed was used. Additionally, references within the deed to the location of the property were inconsistent and varied, appearing as both 4th Street and 316-48th Street. Among the items struck through and deleted from the form were printed portions which incorporated buildings and improvements as part of the conveyance.
Attached to the deed was a document dated June 26, 1979. The document was signed and stamped by the respondent as a notary, and included a place for the signature of complainant with the notation ...