A California attorney suspended in that state for neglecting two client matters and lying to the California State Bar was suspended from practice for two years in New York, where he was also licensed.
The per curiam New York appeals court found that reciprocal discipline was warranted based on the findings of the Supreme Court of California, and rejected David G. Graziani’s request for a one-year suspension to mirror the discipline California imposed in July 2018.
Two clients requested Graziani’s help with mortgage loan modifications on separate occasions in 2014 and 2015, and signed retainer agreements to that effect.
The first client paid Graziani $6,000 for his help but switched counsel after six months because Graziani hadn’t completed the job. The client informed the state bar and when the bar questioned Graziani he lied, saying he hadn’t been hired for loan modification services. He then also offered the client his money back if he would withdraw his complaint.
The second client paid Graziani more than $25,000 to help with his loan modification and subsequent lawsuit against the lender when his modification was denied. But Graziani never responded to discovery requests or to a motion to compel discovery and didn’t tell the client about what was happening.
In addition, during this representation, Graziani was placed on inactive status for not completing the required continuing education requirements but nevertheless billed the client for work he did during this time as well as for court appearances he didn’t attend.
After investigation of the matters, California found Graziani violated the state ethics rule prohibiting “intentionally, recklessly, or repeatedly” failing to perform legal services with competence.
Aggravating factors included that he committed several acts of misconduct in two client matters; caused significant harm to clients and to the administration of justice; and failed to make complete restitution. Mitigating factors included that these were his first offenses and that he saved the bar time and money by admitting the fact and his culpability.
“In view of the seriousness of the underlying misconduct and the deceptive nature of the conduct, in addition to the aggravating factors noted by the California disciplinary authorities, we conclude that a two-year suspension from the practice of law is warranted,” the New York court concluded.
The case is Matter of Graziani, N.Y. App. Div., No. 2018-05071, 7/10/19.
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