In the Matter of Aiman Ibrahim An Attorney at Law
A. Brodsky Chief Counsel
C. FROST, CHAIR
Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court of New Jersey.
matter was before us on a certification of the record filed
by the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE), pursuant to K
1:20-4(f). The formal ethics complaint charged respondent
with violations of RPC 1.15(a) and the principles of
In re Wilson, 81 N.J. 451 (1979) and In re
Hollendonner, 102 N.J. 21 (1985) (knowing
misappropriation of client and escrow funds); RPC
8.1(a) (false statement of fact in connection with a
disciplinary matter); RPC 8.1(b) (failure to reply
to a lawful demand for information from a disciplinary
authority); RPC 8.4(b) (criminal conduct)
(violations of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-9, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5, and
N.J.S.A. 2C:21-15); RPC 8.4(c) (conduct involving
dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation); and
RPC 8.4(d) (conduct prejudicial to the
administration of justice).
reasons set forth below, we recommend respondent's
was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 2008 and the New York
bar in 2009. He has no disciplinary history in New Jersey.
of process was proper in this matter. On October 11, 2018, in
accordance with R. 1:20-7(h), the OAE sent a copy of the
complaint, by regular and certified mail, return receipt
requested, to respondent's office in Totowa, New Jersey,
and the home address listed in the records of the New Jersey
Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection (the Fund). On
October 15, 2018, the certified mail sent to respondent's
home address was delivered. Although the signature of the
recipient's first name is illegible, the last name
appears to be Ibrahim. The regular mail was not returned. The
record does not disclose the disposition of the mail sent to
November 7, 2018, the OAE sent a letter to respondent in
accordance with R. l:20-4(e) to his home address, by regular
and certified mail, return receipt requested, warning
respondent 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 was delivered on November 13, 2018. Again, the
first name of the recipient's signature is illegible, but
the last name appears to be Ibrahim. The regular mail was not
November 20, 2018, respondent had not filed an answer to the
complaint, and the time within which he was required to do so
had expired. Accordingly, the OAE certified this matter to us
as a default.
turn to the allegations of the complaint.
October 6, 2016, the OAE received notice from PNC Bank of an
overdraft in respondent's attorney trust account (ATA).
This notice prompted the OAE to undertake an investigation,
which revealed the following.
2014, Whole Foods, Inc. (Whole Foods) attempted to purchase a
liquor license for its future location in Jersey City, New
Jersey. Respondent represented the seller of the license,
Landico Realty. On May 21, 2014, the parties signed a
contract for the sale. On June 11, 2014, Whole Foods sent
respondent a check for $16, 500, representing the deposit he
was required to hold in escrow. Respondent deposited the
funds into his trust account.
contract provided a 120-day period for Whole Foods to obtain
approval from the Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission of
Jersey City (Jersey City ABC) for the purchase of the liquor
license. Due to Landico's tax problems, Jersey City ABC
did not approve the sale of the liquor license. Thus, on
April 27, 2016, respondent sent an e-mail to Richard Nasca,
counsel for Whole Foods, explaining that the Internal Revenue
Service was unwilling to settle Landico's tax matters and
that his client was pursuing a Chapter 13 reorganization to
prioritize debt, remove any prohibition on the sale of
assets, and move the sale of the liquor license into a
priority position. On May 6, 2016, Nasca informed respondent,
via e-mail, that Whole Foods was terminating the contract. On
June 1, 2016, at respondent's request, Nasca sent formal
notice of the cancellation of the contract. In that letter,
he requested the return of the $16, 500 Whole Foods deposit.
made several subsequent requests for the return of the
deposit. On June 15, 2016, respondent replied that he was
waiting to meet with his client to tell him in person that
the contract was terminated. Respondent assured Nasca that
the deposit money would be returned immediately thereafter.
In a follow-up e-mail on July 5, 2016, respondent informed
Nasca that his client was not responding to him, and that he
had directed his accountant to close the trust ...