August 16, 2004 |
From the beginning, the case against disbarred Camden County lawyer Dennis O'Brien was unlike any other faced by prosecutors. And authorities say it has required an equally "unique response. " O'Brien, who built a practice around a reputation as a church-going family man, pleaded guilty last August to stealing $2.5 million from 33 clients, including $850,000 from an autistic Audubon man. The total amount stolen, officials have discovered, has risen to $2.75 million from 39 clients.
March 23, 2004 |
The case pits a disbarred lawyer against a disrobed one. The accusations, punctuated by insults and invectives, have run the gamut from hiding Penthouse Pet income to threatening Mafia hits. The result? A property settlement thrashed out in Chester County Court on Dec. 9 between adult model Victoria Zdrok and her ex-husband, Alexander Zdrok, has self-destructed. Now the parties face an outcome that may prove more challenging: a showdown with a judge who expressed distaste for the tactics on both sides.
January 25, 2004 |
They trusted Dennis O'Brien with $2.5 million in inheritances and other financial accounts, then found out he had stolen their money to pay his own debts and expenses. Now, five months after the disbarred Camden County lawyer pleaded guilty to the theft, most of his 37 victims will be lucky to get back half of their losses. S. David Brandt, a court-appointed special master and special counsel, said he expected to raise about $1 million from the sale of 11 O'Brien properties over the coming months.
August 27, 2003 |
A disbarred Camden County lawyer who built a practice around his reputation as a churchgoing family man pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing $2.5 million from 33 clients, including about $1 million from an autistic Audubon man. Dennis O'Brien, 61, of Station Avenue in Haddon Heights, admitted taking the money from people who had named him guardian of their estates or entrusted other financial accounts to him for investment. More than two dozen of his victims and their relatives and friends sat quietly in state Superior Court as O'Brien listened to the charges, then accepted responsibility.
August 24, 2003 |
Responding to the theft of Ronnie Mich's $1.2 million inheritance, New Jersey lawmakers are crafting legislation to protect the beneficiaries of estates from dishonest executors. State Sen. Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said he would introduce a bill - called Ronnie's Law - that would prohibit disbarred lawyers and anyone convicted of a felony from serving as an executor. Dennis O'Brien, who faces charges of taking funds from estates in his trust, was disbarred in 1999.
July 19, 2003 |
A disbarred Cherry Hill lawyer who jumped bail rather than face sentencing for stealing from his clients could be sentenced to more than nine years in prison after he was nabbed trying to leave the country. Stuart B. Donegan, 36, pleaded guilty on Oct. 8, 2002, in state Superior Court in Camden County to misapplication of entrusted funds. He admitted to stealing money his clients had given him to resolve their bankruptcies. The New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection repaid $207,713 to 25 of his clients.
September 6, 2002 |
Russell Moss, a disbarred Elkins Park lawyer, will face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder in the 1983 contract slaying of a Cheyney University student, a Delaware County prosecutor said yesterday. Moss, 40, who had a law office in Philadelphia before his arrest in May, is accused of ordering the hit on Ellen Lewis, a Cheyney University student, because she had agreed in 1983 to cooperate with state authorities and testify against Moss regarding bank fraud. The convicted gunman, Rodney Griffin, who is on death row and will be the prosecution's key witness, testified at a preliminary hearing in July that he shot Lewis as a favor to Moss, a college social-fellowship brother.
July 18, 2002 |
The state Supreme Court has disbarred an Elkins Park lawyer charged in May in the 1983 contract killing of a Cheyney University student who was to testify against him in a bank-fraud case. Even before the murder charge was filed, the disciplinary board of the Supreme Court had recommended in April that Russell Moss, 40, who had an office in Philadelphia, be disbarred for making misrepresentations on his 1994 application for admission to the bar. A lawyer for the board said yesterday that the disbarment had nothing to do with the murder case.
May 14, 2002 |
Poor F. Lee Bailey. The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday let stand his disbarment for mishandling $6 million worth of stock belonging to a client serving a life sentence for drug smuggling. The lawyer is best known for defending O.J. Simpson, the Boston Strangler, Patty Hearst and Sam Sheppard. Justices did not comment in refusing to review the Florida Supreme Court decision to ban Bailey from practicing law. He may reapply for his license after five years. Bailey's attorney, Richard A. Sprague of Philadelphia, contended that the results of a lie-detector test Bailey took should have been considered before he was disbarred.
December 16, 2001 |
It's been more than a decade since Vince Rigolosi lost his license to practice law in New Jersey, but the thought of it still haunts him. The allegations of his involvement in a bribe on behalf of the son of a reputed mob boss - and his trial and acquittal on those charges - were "a living nightmare. " But nothing prepared him for the jolt of being disbarred after his acquittal. "The thought that I could never practice law again, it was devastating," Rigolosi said. Now Rigolosi, 69, of Cliffside Park in Bergen County, and others like him who have been stripped of their licenses to practice law in New Jersey - one of the strictest states in the nation on attorney discipline - stand a chance of returning to their former livelihoods.