► Attorney Paul Decenzo of Osterville, MA; ethical leprechaun Print E-mail
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Attorney Paul Decenzo of Osterville, MA; ethical leprechaun

 
The state of Massachusetts presented Paul D. Decenzo with a law license in 1964 after he graduated from Boston University Law School.
 
The Board of Bar Overseers found Paul guilty of the following misconduct.
 
In one matter, Paul was hired to represent a client charged with trafficking in cocaine. The DEA seized $20,000 in cash as illegal proceeds when Paul’s client was arrested. The client’s parents claimed that the funds were theirs.
 
Paul agreed to a flat fee of $20,000 to represent the client in court and to recover the $20,000 for the parents. The client and parents agreed that if any funds were recovered from the DEA, they would be applied to the clients’ legal fee.
 
Eventually, Paul negotiated a settlement with the DEA for return of $15,000. With the parent’s authorization, Paul signed their names to a settlement agreement. Paul disguised that he had signed both names, and he signed as witness to the sham signatures. The following day, Paul faxed the signed settlement agreement to the DEA.
 
After receipt of the $15,000 from the DEA, Paul deposited into his personal account and then wrote to the parents, with a copy to the client’s wife, that he was applying the $15,000 to his fee. Two days later, the wife told Paul she disputed his entitlement to the $15,000 for his fee. Contrary to the rules, Paul didn’t deposit the disputed funds into a client trust account.
 
Shortly thereafter, the wife asked Paul to give her the $15,000 because she needed it to post bail for her husband. Paul agreed in exchange for her assigning the bail month to him to secure payment of his fee. The wife then signed an assignment of bail prepared by Paul that gave him the right to collect the full $25,000 in bail money. The assignment required a notary to attest to the wife’s signature, but Paul didn’t have the wife’s signature notarized. Instead, Paul signed a fictitious (phony) name to the assignment as the purported notary.
 
Paul then filed the assignment with the false notarization with the clerk’s office. Subsequently, Paul was fired as counsel. At the time, the matter had not yet gone to trial. New counsel represented the client at the trial and charged him $5,600 to complete the matter.
 
The new attorney then wrote to the Superior Court clerk’s office on the wife’s behalf that Paul was not entitled to the $25,000 in bail money as a fee. A letter was provided to the clerk from the wife and a copy sent to Paul.
 
Later Paul and the wife agreed that he would return $8,400 to the client’s family, plus $5,600 that had been paid to new counsel to complete the matter. Paul then went to the clerk’s office and obtained the $25,000 bail money and placed it in his personal account.
 
On the same day, Paul sent the wife a check for $8,400, but did not pay the other $5,600. Instead, along with the $8,400 check, Paul sent the wife two releases or demands as to his representation of the client and his handling of the bail proceeds. The wife told Paul that neither she nor the client would sign the releases. Paul continued to hold the $5,600 in his personal account.
 
After the matter came to bar counsel’s attention, Paul finally paid the client’s wife the agreed to $5,600.
 
As a consequence of his misconduct, the apologists for Attorney Misfits sitting on the Board of Overseers punished Paul by gifting him with a complimentary 6-month suspension of his law license.
 
As we speak (ca. June 2013) Paul practices in the Osterville, Massachusetts area.
 
Warning: Paul does not carry legal malpractice insurance
 

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