Lawyer Convicted of Wire Fraud Charges Disbarred

, The Legal Intelligencer

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Gavel

Chaffo appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. According to the report, the court affirmed Chaffo's conviction.

The Supreme Court ordered Chaffo to be placed on temporary suspension as of August 17, 2011, pursuant to the conviction, the report said.

The report said Chaffo did not appear at the disciplinary board hearing because he is currently incarcerated in West Virginia. The report also noted he waived his right to the hearing and communicated through written submissions.

According to the report, Chaffo asserted that he is the only attorney prosecuted in Pennsylvania for mortgage fraud "at a time when mortgage fraud was rampant." The report said that Chaffo believed "'any real estate lawyer could have found himself in a similar situation.'"

In making its decision to disbar Chaffo, the board looked to Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Greene for guidance.

The report noted that in Greene, the Supreme Court in 2009 rejected the board's recommendation to suspend an attorney for five years, instead ordering disbarment after he was convicted of "only one count of conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud, arising out of his participation to defraud mortgage lenders."

The respondent in that case, according to the report, acted as a settlement agent for the company, and with co-conspirators, used fraudulent appraisals; fabricated loan documents, nonexistent "straw" purchasers and sellers; and "any other dishonest act that was necessary to obtain artificially inflated mortgages from lenders on at least eight occasions."

In Greene, as in Chaffo's case, according to the board, the respondent refused to acknowledge his guilt.

The report noted the Supreme Court's determination that the respondent's refusal to acknowledge that guilt and his "attempt to seek mediation of discipline because his financial gain was more modest than his fellow conspirators made disbarment, rather than suspension, the appropriate sanction for professional misconduct."

The office of the secretary to the board said that Chaffo had no attorney in the disciplinary matter.

P.J. D'Annunzio can be contacted at 215-557-2315 or pdannunzio@alm.com. Follow him on Twitter @PJDAnnunzioTLI. •

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