Wednesday, September 3, 2014

North Haledon lawyer charged in attorney ethics complaint

Update 03/23/2017: In her January 3, 2016 Hearing Panel Report (which I only recently learned about), Special Ethics Master Melinda L. Singer recommended Catania's disbarment.  Records requests have been submitted to Hackensack (to see if Catania still serves as municipal prosecutor there) and to the Disciplinary Review Board (to see if any further action has been taken on this ethics matter) and this article will be updated upon receipt.

Singer's recommendation was sent to the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) and I have sent a request to the DRB to see if it has yet reviewed this matter.  Neither Singer nor the DRB can actually disbar Catania.  Only the New Jersey Supreme Court has that power.  On 03/24/17, I was informed by DRB Chief Counsel Ellen Brodsky that there has yet to be a disposition of the matter.
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On February 18, 2014, the New Jersey Supreme Court's Office of Attorney Ethics filed a formal Disciplinary Action Complaint against Frank Catania, Jr. a partner in the firm Catania & Ehrlich,PC.  According to meeting minutes of the Hackensack City Council, Frank Catania, Jr. serves as municipal prosecutor there.

The complaint alleged that on December 21, 2010, Catania wrote a $15,000 check out of his client trust fund account to Cattino Fitness Corp, which the complaint says in Catania's business.  The complaint further alleged that Catania wrote another $10,000 check out of his trust account on December 30, 2010 to the law firm of Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis for legal fees "related to [Catania's] personal business."

In his filed Answer to the Complaint, Catania claims that his client, Charles and Patricia Amorosi, authorized Catania to borrow $15,000 and $10,000 from their escrow balance and produced two handwritten receipts as evidence.  The Office of Attorney Ethics, however, argued that Catania's explanation involving the handwritten receipts is inconsistent with a defense that Catania previously raised in a July 5, 2012 letter.

The complaint and answer are on-line here.