About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, February 02, 2015

Disciplinary Complaint Against Corriere Paints Dark Picture

A 51-page complaint filed by the Disciplinary Board [you can read it here] paints a dark picture of Bethlehem Attorney Donald Corriere. If true, it reveals a former District Attorney and County Commissioner who preyed upon innocent and unsophisticated people, instead of helping them. Unfortunately, several people are listed as the victims of a web of deceit.  If nothing else, this disciplinary action demonstrates that a lawyer who acts unethically can really hurt his client.

Before I go on, I need to point out three things. First, I am a former lawyer who did damage clients. I disgraced myself, my family and my profession. Second,.there's been no finding that Corriere has done anything wrong. Though the Disciplinary Complaint does recount admissions of wrongdoing made by Corriere, there has been no formal finding. Finally, I am well aware of the common perception that all lawyers are crooks. But it's a myth made possible by a few unethical lawyers like me. Most lawyers I know are very honest, even if what they say will hurt them. This complaint is highly unusual. But the public has more than a right; it has a need to know.

The Case of Randi Ratushny  

This all starts with Randi Ratushny, a woman who suffered from addiction issues and depression. Not the kind of person you take seriously. Precisely the kind of person you can use. But a person with a sister who loved her. That love, in the end, may have have stopped Corriere.

When Randi's mother died, Corriere was appointed Executor of the Estate. She had another daughter, Robin Thomas, and the mother had already provided for her by setting up numerous bank accounts that were owned jointly, with the right of survivorship. (This means that when the mother died, the daughter automatically became the owner of these accounts)   Corriere suggested that Robin surrender those funds to him, and he'd use them to care for Randi. Robin agreed, liquidated all accounts, and gave him a check for $88,356.94. Using other monies from the mother's estate, Corriere was able to pool $142,277.86, supposedly for the care and maintenance of Randi.

Unfortunately, much of that money instead went to the care and maintenance of Don Corriere. Instead of depositing that money into a separate escrow account, Corriere deposited it in his IOLTA account, and then even withdrew a large portion of it to transfer into a separate savings account. He used the money to pay credit card bills, personal and law firm expenses. According to the Disciplinary Complaint, he converted and spent at least $50,622.73 of Ratushny's money.

He has never repaid this money despite promises to Disciplinary Counsel that he would do so.

In addition, he charged excessive fees. For example, he charged Randi Ratushny's sister, Robin Thomas, $2,500 from the mother's estate for legal fees, even though he never represented her. He charged $2,500 to set up a "custodial account" that never existed. He claimed nearly $9,000 in attorney fees to probate the mother's estate, and charged another $16,000 in fees while supposedly managing Ratushny's money.  

These fees appear to be in addition to what was outright stolen.

Eventually, the well started going dry. In February 2011, someone in Corriere's office told Ratushny that only $5,000 was left in her nonexistent custodial account. After what must have been a minor explosion, Corriere reported that he had found some additional funds and sent her a check for $13,000. He told Ratushny that since this money originally came from her sister, it would be unethical for him to meet and discuss it with her.

Randi Ratushny's Suicide

Ratushny, who suffered from mental illness, was unable to cope with what was happening to her. She found her relief in a bottle of pills in 2012.

Suicide, says the death certificate.

Multiple drug intoxication, says the death certificate.

But where did she get the pills to do herself in? She didn't drive, not after being caught behind the wheel drunk or drugged up, on several occasions. Believe it or not, the person who most likely drove her to pick up those pills - James Emlen - is the person who benefited from her death.

Originally, Ratushny left everything to her sister. Remember her? She's the one who without hesitation entrusted Corriere with $88,000 to provide for her sister. She's the person who paid the funeral bill for her sister. But guess wha?. A new Will was prepared, cutting out the sister and naming instead a man with problems of his own.

This would prevent the sister from asking all kinds of uncomfortable questions about just what happened to her own money.

Though the sister challenged the new will, the Courts accepted it, especially when Corriere's son testified this is what Ratushny wanted. The courts were never told that the firm had already stolen a great deal of Ratushny's money. On appeal, a disinterested Superior Court paid so little attention to details that it mistakenly called James Emlen, the new Executor and heir, Ratushny's brother..

He was not her brother. He may very well be the person who supplied her with the pills she abused to kill herself. Under the Slayer's Act, a person who assists another in committing suicide is barred from financially benefiting in that person's estate.

Had Ratushny's sister been appointed Executor, she would have pursued vigorously the alleged theft of her sister's money by Corriere. But with her out of the way and Emlen in, Corriere thought he was on easy street.

Until the Disciplinary Board began sniffing around.

Because of that, Corriere decided to steer Emlen to a new attorney, Chris Spadoni. Corriere misrepresented the claim against him as just $37,000.

Unfortunately, what happened to Randi Ratushny also happened to other clients.

Playing Games With Asbestos Money  - As the attorney for both the Martin and Virginia Jandris estates, Corriere was provided with substantial sums of money from the Peter Angelos law firm for asbestos claims they had pursued on behalf of the Jandris '. He eventually distributed over $25,000 to their beneficiaries, but only after complaints to the Disciplinary Board. He has failed to distribute about $15,000, and charged an amazing $12,000 in fees for work in which his sole job was to martial assets.

Playing Games With Wrongful Death Money. - Corriere represented the Snyder Estates, who had a wrongful death claim being pursued by another firm. When that matter settled, Corriere refused to distribute the money until the Disciplinary Board inquired. Then he charged excessive fees. In one of the Snyder estates, a spouse had elected to take against the Will. She was represented by Chris Spadoni. Corriere misrepresented the settlement figure in that matter as half of what it really was.

Corriere has declined public comment on the charges against him.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Feels like something else is operating here like an addiction ? gambling?

Anonymous said...

How naïve was Spadoni or is there an explanation?

Bernie O'Hare said...

You have to ID yourself if you want to talk trash about others.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:14, don't know what the problem could be. I hate to say this, but wonder if his age has affected him. i just don't know.

Anonymous said...

Seahawks try to take a dump on America ... Patriots say no.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you have always stepped up to the plate and have taken responsibility for your past actions. This is a tough subject for you to blog about and I respect you for tackling it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Seahawks try to take a dump on America ... Patriots say no."

I'm taking a wild guess here and am concluding you are a NE fan. I like the Eagles, Steelers, Green Bay and Seattle. Congrats on your win.

Anonymous said...

6:45 am I agree with you. Bernie I dont know what you did in the past , but you should forgive yourself. You are a man who has integrety.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"but you should forgive yourself."

I haver, but have to acknowledge my own past in a story like this one.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:15, If I were Spadoni, I would accept what Corriere told me at face value.

Dreaming of Justice said...

Bernie, you do not need to issue a mea culpa regarding your long-ago past. As far as I am concerned, you have repaid your debt with your excellent reporting and activism. There are truly scary characters out there-some of whom are attorneys, but you're one of the good guys.

Anonymous said...

"...a disinterested Superior Court paid so little attention to details that it mistakenly called James Emlen, the new Executor and heir, Ratushny's brother."

Black-robed arrogance, teh irony in their moniker.

-Clem

Anonymous said...

This is about what I guessed, based on the initial reports. Good, honest report, Bernie.

We each have our weaknesses. I'm thinking back to when I got a security clearance, and my neighbors were questioned at length about their knowledge of me. They were looking for anything that may lead in the future to me compromising security for the sake of monetary or other gain.

Anonymous said...

This sort of behavior brings into question the total of Mr. Corriere's working history.
How about the lack of representation provided for needy and voiceless citizens while performing as the public defender?
Is it possible to be morally deficient in one area and a bastion of society in another?

Anonymous said...

Bernie I wish you would take a look at King Spry's billing to the local School District's. Our tax dollars are a great concern.... Bangor Area School Board is still awaiting the Pa Auditor General to do an audit- Spry paid $8,100.00 back....His number of what he overbilled for 6 months.... what about all the other years...?

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:39, It is Corriere's son who was Chief PD. The sins of the father, if they are sins, shall not be visited upon the son.

I am completely baffled by all of this. Until the split with Haber, I would never have suspected anything amiss. It is quite sad for someone who really did a lot.

Anonymous said...

Lawyer’s creed –

A man is innocent until proven broke.

Anonymous said...

Backenstoe is a good lawyer. Wonder if he left to go towards something, or away from something.

Cardigan said...

years of inbreeding in Norco has led to the entire mess this county is in

Bernie O'Hare said...

Cardigasn, aka Mezzacappa, then by all means, you should move back to Jersey and run for office there.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Stoffa and Angle can you kiss Bernie's fat ass any more. he screwed over people as a drunk lawyer. he should feel like shit. Just as you guys screwed over the county.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:30, aka Mezzacappa, Have you surrendered your car?

Anonymous said...

There is something wrong with this picture. You state that there is "no finding that Corriere has done anything wrong" and you also state "there has been no formal finding by the disciplinary board". I will agree that the fees for services provided are excessive and where there's smoke there's fire....however, if he isn't charged with criminal misconduct, then why are you using words like "stolen" which are criminal acts. Even if he repays the funds being questioned, is someone going to charge him with criminal misconduct like Ed Redding is being charged. I don't know the answer to this next question but....If I recall, you weren't charged criminally for your actions. You were disbarred and you are (I believe) now able to be reinstated (which I really think you should be doing). You punished yourself plenty for what happened decades ago. Soooo the question remains, if Corriere did do something criminal (which he isn't being charged with) than who would bring the criminal charges. Would it be the DA or the Attorney General, and since the disciplinary board is not recommending criminal charges, then should Corriere return all monies in question, would the disciplinary board disbar him?

Anonymous said...

"Wow, Stoffa and Angle can you kiss Bernie's fat ass any more. he screwed over people as a drunk lawyer. he should feel like shit. Just as you guys screwed over the county."
Boo-hoo, "Tricia". Nobody gives a crap when they read Bernie's blog or articles about local politics and school sports, about what he did decades ago as a lawyer. You're living in the distant past and obsessed with stalking him. Stoffa, Angle? Again, you're stuck in yesterday. You can't stand the fact Bernie exposed you for what you are today. Just like he did with your convict buddy who sits in jail where he earned a bunk. Get a grip on reality, pay your debts and move forward.

Bernie has admitted and atoned for his sins long ago - it's time for you to do the same. Turning your car in would be a great start. Nobody respects a person with no respect for the law. Except maybe the loony jail bird.

Bernie O'Hare said...

3:20, I use words like stolen because Corriere admitted to Disciplinary Counsel that he stole the money and has not paid it back. But there has been no formal finding by the Board. You could say the funds were misappropriated or converted or embezzled.

In answer to your personal question, I had decided to apply for re-admission, and must take about 40 hours of classes. By my calculations, this costs more money than I can afford at the moment. My income is limited, and I have obligations to others. Some friends have offered to front me, but I would prefer to do it myself.

Anonymous said...

Soon you can use the proceeds from the West Easton property.

Anonymous said...

"Soon you can use the proceeds from the West Easton property."

That would be very sweet justice indeed.

Docket Watcher said...

It appears that Mr. O'Hare does not believe in due process. An allegation is just an allegation until proven after a contested hearing. Mr. O'Hare's commentary and back story above goes well beyond the information contained in the Complaint. It is obvious someone is providing him additional allegations to attack Corriere. Such as Haber, the former partner. I note Mr. O'Hare's embellished article he posted on August 31, 2011 about the "good guy" Haber. Look at Docket CV-2011-12346 to see all of the allegations between Haber and Corriere. Perhaps O'Hare is merely helping Haber rather than just an advocate for the public's right to know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mezzo apps, you need to be watching your own docket. Of course I consider Haber a good guy and have spoken very highly of Corfiere as well. But what I do is something called research. For example, I know how to look up an estate and did so last week. You ought to try digging for facts once in a while instead of lying.

Terry H said...

Some people chose to litigate through the public courts; other people chose to make allegations to the Disciplinary Board and remain anonymous. You decide who is doing which. To me, it is obvious.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Terry H, your statement is inaccurate, although I've noticed realtors never let facts get in the way. The proper way to pursue a claim against a lawyer for ethical misconduct is before the disciplinary board. The complaint, if it rises to that level, is made by Disciplinary Counsel. And she signs her name. So far as I inow, Haber is pursuing a separate claim in the courts, and has signed his name to his complaint. You must be worried about missing a few of your ridiculously high commissions. Haber has a well-known disdain for realtors. Perhaps that bothers you. I find it refreshing.

Herbert James said...

I couldn't agree more with Terry H. Courageous people raise their claims in public court and steel themselves for cross examination; for they know the righteousness of their claim. Cowards find others to raise their claims with the Disciplinary Board and remain anonymous; for they fear cross examination and doubt the strength of their claims.

Bernie O'Hare said...

So far as I know, the complaint against Corriere is signed by the Disciplinary Zcounsel, and she has a name. That does not happen unless Zcounsel believes the contention, anonymous or not, has merit. Anonymity protects people like Tandi Ratushny from high powered people who will retaliate. But I believe the vomplainant here was not anonymous and is known to Corriere as two of his clients, Ratushny and Thomas.

Anonymous said...

Berie,
This is a very interesting article and the stories of these parasites taking advantage of the disadvantage is but the pinhead on the tip of the iceburg about to be opened? The damage done to the souls of these human being is reprehencible and the actors should be subjected to the same torment that they have dished out? The few stories in this article are not the first and will not be the last as thugonomics is a Home Rule clause to keep there dirty little secrets in house and have infected every aspect of life of the indigent people with no legal team to stand up for there best intrests, and these parasiptic types even go as far as to create more discourse in the most important family institution of innocent children and stand up for the lies perpatrated by the actors in this legal system that was put in place before you or I were even in diapers?

We all have to pray for the evil souls that fill these types? This is the very core of all wars, the war between good and evil?

I hav't even read the comments this time as that is were I normally start? There is a story comming and it will not be published by the local edited out lame advertimental tools locally? As mine is allready published in a world wide physicology periodical? Ad it will be you or MM Bernie that publish mine

redd
patent pending

Anonymous said...

Corriere did not admit.. READ.. it's all quotes from an ALLEGED PETITION..
"The PETITION SAID ........"

Anonymous said...

APPLAUSE Docket Watcher !

Anonymous said...

#ExpertlyExpressed

Bernie O'Hare said...

Unfortunately, the Zpetition alleges admissions by Corriere.

Jules said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Truth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Truth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Truth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Truth said...

Exactly Bernie ..it alleges~

Truth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Yr words above speak the truth 4 themselves~ the ' Zpetition ALLEGES ' not Corriere~ name inserted in ( ) 2 read as spoken by Corriere. When 0 of Zpetition, has any admissions whatsoever. I know that you Bernie, know the difference between allege and charge, truth and lying. Just one salient component, that make you a good blogger. #TruthPrevailZ