In The Matter of Diego P. Milara An Attorney At Law
Docket Nos. VI-2015-0027E; VI-2016-0005E; XIV-2016-0253E; and
A. Brodsky Chief Counsel.
C. Frost, Chair.
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matters were before us by way of default: DRB 17-427 at our
March 2018 session, and DRB 18-170 at our July 2018 session.
We have consolidated both matters for disposition.
17-427 was filed by the District VI Ethics Committee (DEC),
pursuant to R. 1:20-4(f). The complaint charged respondent
with violations of RPC 1.1(a) (gross neglect) (two
counts); RPC 1.3 (lack of diligence) (two counts);
RPC 1.4 (presumably (b)) (failure to communicate
with the client) (two counts); RPC 1.16(d) (failure
to protect a client's interests on termination of the
representation) (one count), RPC 8.1(b) (failure to
respond to a lawful demand for information by disciplinary
authorities) (two counts); and RPC 8.4(a) (violate
or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional
Conduct) (two counts).
18-170 was filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE),
pursuant to R. 1:20-4(f). The complaint charged respondent
with violations of RPC 1-1(a); RPC 1.3; RPC 1.4(b);
RPC 8.1(b) and RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the
administration of justice) for failure to comply with the
requirements of R0 1:20-20 governing suspended attorneys;
RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit or misrepresentation); and a second count of
reasons set forth below, based on totality of
respondent's conduct in both matters, we determined to
impose a one-year prospective suspension.
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1991 and the New York
bar in 1993. He has been ineligible to practice law in New
Jersey since September 24, 2012, for failure to pay the
annual assessment to the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for
Client Protection (the Fund). Respondent was temporarily
suspended, effective January 22, 2015, for failure to
cooperate with the OAE. In re Milara, 220 N.J. 341
(2015). He was temporarily suspended again, effective June
12, 2017, for failure to comply with a fee arbitration
determination. In re Milara, 229 N.J. 262 (2017). He
remains suspended to date.
on October 4, 2018, respondent was censured for violating
RPC 1.3, RPC 5.5(a)(1) (unauthorized
practice of law), RPC 8.1(b), and RPC
8.4(c). In re Milara, __N.J.__(2018). In that
matter, respondent failed to serve an order on parties in
accordance with a court order, practiced law while
ineligible, failed to maintain his client's file, failed
to cooperate with disciplinary authorities, and made several
misrepresentations to the client. In the Matter of Diego
P. Milara, DRB 17-274 (January 22, 2018).
turn to the facts of each matter.
17-427 (District Docket Nos. VI-2015-0027E and
of process was proper. On June 13, 2017, the DEC sent a copy
of the amended complaint to respondent, in accordance with R.
1:20-4(d) and R. 1:20-7(h), by both regular and certified
mail, return receipt requested, at his Newark mailing
address. The Court had used that address to serve the May 12,
2017 Order suspending respondent, effective June 12, 2017.
The certified mail was returned marked "Return to Sender
- Unclaimed - Unable to Forward." The regular mail
envelope was not returned.
August 29, 2017, the DEC sent a second letter to respondent,
at the same address, by regular and certified mail, return
receipt requested, informing him that, if he failed to file a
verified answer to the complaint within five days of the date
of the letter, the allegations of the complaint would be
deemed admitted, the entire record would be certified
directly to us for the imposition of discipline, and the
complaint would be deemed amended to include a violation of
RPC 8.1(b). The certified mail envelope was returned
marked "Return to Sender - Not Deliverable as Addressed
- Unable to Forward". The regular mail was not returned.
time within which respondent may answer has expired. As of
October 20, 2017, the date of the certification of the
record, no answer had been filed by or on behalf of
OF THE COMPLAINT COUNT ONE (The Zubizarreto
January 2014, grievant Dania Zubizarreto and her husband,
Pedro, retained respondent, for a $2, 000 fee, to negotiate a
mortgage modification with Bank of America. Zubizarreto
initially paid respondent $1, 000. Respondent sent a letter
of representation to Bank of America regarding the mortgage
modification, on January 8, 2014. Soon thereafter, however,
he ceased communication with Zubizarreto.
Zubizarreto contacted respondent's law partner, Eric
Marmolejo, but he had no information regarding the mortgage
modification or respondent's whereabouts, was unable to
find her client file, and asserted that he was unable to help
her. About one year later, in February 2015, the
Zubizarretos' home went into foreclosure. According to
the complaint, respondent's failure to file the
appropriate papers with the bank and the
"abandonment" of his clients resulted in the
foreclosure action on their home. Zubizarreto hired another
firm that successfully completed the mortgage modification.
occasions during the investigation, the DEC sent
correspondence to respondent, requesting a written reply to
the grievance, as well as any supporting documentation.
Respondent replied to none of them.
TWO (The Tsapisnos Matter)
2012, Nicholas Tsapisnos retained respondent to file a
bankruptcy petition for a $1, 600 flat fee. On numerous
occasions, respondent informed Tsapisnos that the
creditors' meeting associated with his petition had been
cancelled and rescheduled. Tsapisnos eventually learned that
respondent had never filed the bankruptcy petition on his
behalf. Tsapisnos retained new counsel, for an additional $1,
800 fee, to file a bankruptcy petition and ultimately
received a discharge.
occasions during the course of the investigation, the DEC
sent correspondence to respondent, requesting a written
response to the grievance, along with any supporting
documentation. Respondent did not reply to either request.
18-170 (District Docket No. XIV-2016-0253E and
of process was proper. On January 29, 2018, the OAE sent
respondent a copy of the complaint to his home address, in
accordance with R. 1:20-7(h), by regular and certified mail.
On March 27, 2018, the certified mail was ...