IN THE MATTER OF JOSHUA LAWRENCE GAYL AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
Argued: February 15, 2018
Hillary K. Horton appeared on behalf of the Office of
Respondent waived appearance for oral argument.
C. FROST, CHAIR Ellen A. Brodsky Chief Counsel.
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on a motion for final discipline, filed
by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to R.
l:20-13(c)(2), following respondent's guilty plea to, and
conviction of, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice,
contrary to 18 U.S.C. § 371 (1994). The OAE seeks a
three-year prospective suspension, with the condition that,
prior to reinstatement, respondent be required to submit
proof of fitness to practice, as attested to by a qualified
mental health professional approved by the OAE. Respondent
urges the imposition of "a retroactive suspension for a
reasonable amount of time."
reasons set forth below, we determine to grant the OAE's
motion for final discipline and find that respondent
committed a criminal act that reflects adversely on his
honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other
respects, in violation of RPC 8.4(b), and engaged in conduct
involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in
violation of RFC 8.4(c). Consequently, we determine
to impose a three-year suspension, retroactive to April 7,
2017, the date on which the Court temporarily suspended
respondent from the practice of law. Moreover, we condition
his reinstatement on his provision of proof of fitness to
practice law as attested to by a mental health professional
approved by the OAE.
was admitted to the bars of New Jersey and Pennsylvania in
2006. At the relevant times, he was general counsel to VO
Financial, Inc. (VO Financial), a provider of timeshare
consulting services in Egg Harbor Township.
disciplinary history is limited to a temporary suspension,
imposed by the Court on April 7, 2017, following his federal
conspiracy conviction. In re Gayl, 228 N.J. 468
March 23, 2016, respondent appeared before the Honorable Noel
L. Hillman, U.S.D.J., in the United States District Court for
the District of New Jersey, waived indictment, and pleaded
guilty to an information charging him with one count of
conspiracy to obstruct justice, a violation of 18 U.S.C.
2012, respondent became general counsel to, and corporate
secretary of, VO Financial, the successor corporation to the
Vacation Ownership Group (VO Group). VO Financial's
president was Adam Lacerda; its vice president was Ian
Resnick; and its chief operating officer was Ashley Lacerda.
time respondent became employed by VO Financial, the
Lacerdas, Resnick, and "others" were under federal
indictment for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud while
they were involved with the VO Group. Respondent knew that
the Lacerdas, Resnick, "and others" had been
indicted because, prior to his hiring, he had read the
criminal trial was scheduled to begin in July 2013. Resnick
continued to work for VO Financial through June of that year.
The Lacerdas continued to work there through July 2013.
Financial maintained a "pipeline" database
containing notes of contacts with its customers, copies of
recordings of telephone calls, copies of documents,
"tasks from one VO Financial employee to another,"
and other materials. Respondent used the pipeline database in
his work with the company.
respondent's employment with VO Financial, he was aware
of the developments in the criminal case. Specifically,
respondent knew that the court had prohibited the Lacerdas
and Resnick from communicating with any person named in the
indictment or anyone identified as a witness by the
government. Nevertheless, in September and October 2 012,
respondent wrote to and called Victim Number 1 (Victim 1),
knowing that Victim 1 had told the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) that the VO Group had defrauded Victim 1
and that Victim 1 was to be a witness in the criminal case.
In doing so, respondent intended to "lock Victim ... 1
into a story and elicit any statements that would be helpful
to the defense in the criminal case." Respondent did not
tell Victim 1 of his intention.
September 25, 2012 letter, respondent informed Victim 1 that
respondent would be "better able to assist" Victim
1 if Victim 1 was able to "confirm in writing some
information about what Victim 1 was told by the FBI."
Six days later, respondent and "S.A."
telephoned Victim 1. S.A. began the call by informing Victim
1 that the call was being recorded for quality assurance and
training purposes. The statement was misleading because the
true purpose of recording the call was to obtain recorded
statements favorable to the defense.
the call with Victim 1, respondent summarized the allegations
in the criminal case but omitted the allegation that the
defendants had misrepresented to the victims that the VO
Group would sell their timeshares. Respondent asked Victim 1
about Victim 1' s conversations with the FBI. When Victim
1 replied that a VO Group representative had told Victim 1
that the VO Group would sell Victim l's timeshare,
respondent asserted "we do not sell timeshares,"
and stated that Victim 1 was confused in his/her
recollection. Respondent admitted that, at the time of the
call, he had no knowledge of what the VO Group representative
actually had told Victim 1.
the telephone call with Victim 1, respondent talked to Adam
Lacerda about the conversation. A few minutes later, and at
Lacerda's request, respondent called Victim 1 for the
purpose of eliciting additional statements that were helpful
to the defense, including that Victim 1 was mistaken in
his/her recollection regarding the VO Group's promise to
sell Victim l's timeshare. Respondent did not tell Victim
1 that this was the purpose of his telephone call. At the end
of the conversation, ...