||After the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued upon Respondent a rule under Pa.R.D.E. 216(a) and (c)(3) to show cause why reciprocal discipline should not be imposed based upon the Order of the Supreme Court of New Jersey dated September 28, 2004, Respondent was reciprocally suspended from the practice of law in this Commonwealth “consistent with” the New Jersey Order.
The New Jersey Supreme Court had suspended Respondent for a period of one year, with conditions: Respondent is not to petition for reinstatement until all pending ethics matters against him are concluded; prior to reinstatement, Respondent shall complete a seminar in real estate law and ten hours of professional responsibility courses approved by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics (“OAE”); and on reinstatement, Respondent shall practice law under the supervision of a practicing attorney approved by the OAE for a period of two years.
In the New Jersey proceeding, the Disciplinary Review Board (“DRB”) found that Respondent knew about a conspiracy to defraud a mortgage company and, while serving as closing agent as well as counsel for the buyer, seller and presumably the title company, ratified the conspiracy through his conduct in connection with the closing on the real estate. Respondent, inter alia, prepared and certified as true a HUD-1 containing numerous representations that Respondent knew were false, including the amount of the mortgage loan and a stated amount as “cash to seller” that was only partially disbursed by Respondent after the OAE intervened. Respondent also drafted and recorded a deed that misstated the sale price and the grantor’s acknowledgement of receipt of the sale proceeds. The DRB concluded that although the mortgage loan was procured by fraud, the harm to the mortgage company was unknown, since the buyer became obligated to make the mortgage payments; consequently, the seller, who lost her family home and the proceeds from the sale of her home, “was the only true victim in the scheme.” The DRB also found that Respondent failed to provide a written fee agreement, violated a disciplinary rule prohibiting conflicts of interest, and made false statements to an OAE investigator.