On an Order to Show Cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.
For reprimand -- Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Schreiber, Handler, Pollock, O'Hern and Garibaldi. Opposed -- None.
[95 NJ Page 8] At our direction, the District IX Ethics Committee conducted an investigation of the propriety of defendant's conduct in the purchase of real property at a Sheriff's sale in Monmouth County and in related litigation. After conducting an investigation
and a hearing, the Committee issued a presentment charging respondent with violations of DR 7-102(A)(1) (filing a suit that serves to harass or maliciously injure another) and DR 7-102(A)(5) (knowingly making a false statement of law or fact). Thereafter, the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) conducted a hearing de novo on the record, after which it found that respondent had filed an affidavit in the Appellate Division that contained a misrepresentation in violation of DR 1-102(A)(4) and DR 7-102(A)(5) and that his conduct reflected adversely on his fitness to practice law contrary to DR 1-102(A)(6). As a result the DRB recommended a public reprimand of respondent.
Following its hearing, DRB found:
In February 1974 respondent was retained to represent Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital in the collection of a delinquent account in the amount of $347.90 owed by David Assoulin. Respondent instituted suit in Monmouth County District Court on behalf of the hospital against Assoulin. Service of process was eventually effectuated on Assoulin's wife at their summer residence at 24 Hathaway Avenue, Deal, New Jersey.
Assoulin did not answer or otherwise defend this action and a default judgment was entered against him by affidavit on August 15, 1974 in the sum of $347.90 together with costs of $26.
The judgment was not paid and was therefore docketed by the respondent in the Superior Court in December 1974. Following the docketing, a writ of execution was issued in January 1975 and sent to the Sheriff of Monmouth County with instructions to levy on a vacant oceanfront lot on Beringer Road in Deal, owned by Assoulin. Respondent had previously examined title to this property and determined that it was owned by Assoulin in his own name, whereas the property on Hathaway Avenue was in the joint names of Assoulin and his wife.
The Sheriff held a sale of the Beringer Road property on April 14, 1975 at which respondent appeared on behalf of his client, the hospital. Public notice of the sale was published by respondent in the Ocean Grove Times, a small weekly newspaper of limited circulation in the Ocean Grove area. Respondent did not mail notice of the sale directly to Assoulin.
At the sale, the hospital was apparently uninterested in bidding on the property. Respondent thereupon bid on his own behalf, and was the successful bidder at $4,000. A deed was made by the Sheriff to the respondent on April 25, 1975, and duly recorded in the County Clerk's office. Respondent did not obtain title insurance for his title under the Sheriff's deed.
Subsequent to receipt of that deed on June 11, 1975, the respondent made a deed from himself and his wife conveying the Beringer Road property to a corporation, formed for that purpose, known as Wenscot Associates, Inc. The name of the corporation is an acronym for the first names of the respondent's children, Wendy and Scott. The stockholders of the ...