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In re Broderick

Supreme Court of New Jersey

June 8, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF ROBERT GEOFFREY BRODERICK AN ATTORNEY AT LAW

          Argued March 15, 2018

         District No. XIV-2016-0322E

          Al Garcia appeared on behalf of the Office of Attorney Ethics.

          Eden A. Brodsky, Chief Counsel

          Respondent appeared pro se, via telephone.

          DECISION

          BONNIE C. FROST, CHAIR

         To the Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

         This matter was before us on a motion for reciprocal discipline filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), following respondent's one-year suspension in Connecticut, for his violation of the Connecticut equivalent of New Jersey RPC 1.17(c)(2) (improper sale of a law office)[1] and RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation).

         The OAE seeks a six-month suspension. Although respondent does not specifically dispute the OAE's recommendation, he requests that we consider a shorter duration. For the reasons stated below, we determine to impose a censure.

         Respondent was admitted to the New Jersey and Connecticut bars in 2010.[2] He has no history of discipline in New Jersey. According to the Central Attorney Management System (CAMS), as of February 28, 2018, respondent has been retired from the practice of law in New Jersey.

         On February 25, 2016, Disciplinary Counsel for the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee (CSGC) filed a presentment, charging respondent with four counts of violating Rules 1.17(c)(1), 1.17(c)(2) and 8.4(3) of the Connecticut Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct (CLRPC). Prior thereto, on January 29, 2016, respondent submitted an affidavit, admitting the charged violations.

         Specifically, respondent admitted that he failed to give four separate clients written notice of the sale of his law firm, failed to inform them of their right to retain other counsel, and failed to inform them that they could take possession of their files before the sale of his firm, all in violation of CLRPC 1.17(c)(1) and (2). He also admitted that he violated- CLRPC 8.4(3) when those four clients retained him for mortgage relief services, in violation of state and federal law.

         On August 1, 2014, respondent's law firm, The Resolution Law Group, and its successor, the Berger Law Group, were placed in receivership by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida - Tampa Division (USFLA). That action was based on allegations by the Florida and Connecticut Attorneys General that both firms had generated millions of dollars in illegal upfront fees by convincing consumers to pay to be included as plaintiffs in "mass-joinder" lawsuits against mortgage lenders Respondent and his partners promised that the litigation would induce banks to give modifications or other types of mortgage relief. They charged individuals a $6, 000 upfront "investigation fee" and a $500 per month maintenance fee.

         Respondent's conduct violated Chapter 501, Part II, Florida Statutes and Conn. Gen. Stat., Chapter 735a (deceptive trade practices), and the federal Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule (MARS), 12 C.F.R. Part 1015 (2012) (Regulation 0). The record does not disclose the resolution of the federal matter.

         On August 20, 2016, respondent was suspended for one year in Connecticut. On September 1, 2016, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals entered an order suspending respondent from the practice of law for a period of one year, nunc pro tunc to August 7, 2016.

         The Connecticut and the District of Columbia suspensions were based on respondent's violations of CLRPC 1.17(c)(1), 1.17(c)(2) and 8.4(3). Respondent's unethical conduct in Connecticut ...


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