IN RE PETITION FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST PEREZ, No. A03-1327.

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation688 N.W.2d 562
PartiesIn re PETITION FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST Alfred PEREZ, Jr., a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 181353.
Decision Date18 November 2004
Docket NumberNo. A03-1327.

688 N.W.2d 562

In re PETITION FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST Alfred PEREZ, Jr., a Minnesota Attorney, Registration No. 181353

No. A03-1327.

Supreme Court of Minnesota.

November 18, 2004.


688 N.W.2d 563
Kenneth L. Jorgensen, Director, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Martin A. Cole, First Assistant Director, St. Paul, MN, for Appellant

Alfred Perez, Jr., Commerce, CA, for Respondent.

Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.

OPINION

PER CURIAM.

On September 9, 2003, respondent Alfred Perez, Jr. admitted service of a notice of petition for disciplinary action against him. In the petition, the Minnesota Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility alleged that Perez had failed to notify the Director of a felony conviction and subsequent disciplinary proceedings in California. As a result, the Director petitioned that we disbar Perez or impose otherwise appropriate discipline. We appointed a referee to hear this matter and to issue his recommendation for discipline. The matter is now before us on the referee's report and recommendation of disbarment. We agree with the referee's recommendation and order that Alfred Perez, Jr. be disbarred.

Alfred Perez, Jr. was born and raised in California. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Yale University and law

688 N.W.2d 564
degree from Hastings Law School in San Francisco. After failing the California bar examination several times, Perez realized that he could represent clients in federal immigration proceedings as soon as he obtained a license to practice law from any state. Apparently, Perez had relatives in Minnesota, which led him to apply for admission here. On April 27, 1987, he was granted a license to practice law in Minnesota. He then joined the practice of a Los Angeles area organization specializing in immigration matters. In August 1988, Perez was finally granted a license to practice law in California. The following year, he requested that Minnesota place him on continuing legal education restricted status.1

In January 1990, Perez met lawyer Wade Shang. Shang was leaving the legal profession and offered to transfer his practice to Perez. Perez accepted the offer and took over Shang's practice in Burlingame, a city just south of San Francisco. Two months later, Perez opened a second office in the Los Angeles suburb of South Pasadena.

At the time Perez opened these two law offices, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating personal injury insurance fraud schemes in California. The FBI conducted sting operations where agents posed as either uninjured accident victims seeking recovery on personal injury claims or as "cappers." Cappers are essentially client brokers, who arrange medical treatments and legal representation for personal injury claimants in return for a fee or percentage of any eventual insurance settlement. This practice is illegal in California.

As part of an FBI sting operation, agent George Henderson posed as an uninjured automobile accident victim seeking recovery on a personal injury claim. Perez had inherited Henderson's case from Shang. While working on Henderson's case, Perez met with two other FBI agents posing as cappers. Then, in September 1990, these agents referred three new clients to Perez's Burlingame office. All three clients were also undercover FBI agents. According to Perez, his assistant Dennis Santos recommended that the three clients seek treatment from a physician, Dr. Appolonia Dimapilis. Perez asserted that he never met Dimapilis in person prior to his grand jury indictment for insurance fraud. Dimapilis treated the three new clients between September 18 and October 3, 1990. It appears that with respect to at least one of these cases, Perez's law office also had a relationship with Zoila Coronel, an administrative employee of the St. Anthony Medical Clinic.

Perez struggled to maintain his law practice in Burlingame, and ultimately closed that office in March 1991. He then relocated his Burlingame practice to Santos's home. In November 1992, FBI agents searched Perez's South Pasadena office. Shortly thereafter, in March 1993, Perez also closed that office.

On October 6, 1993, Perez was charged in the Northern District of California with criminal mail fraud and money laundering in violation of Title 18, United States Code § 1341 (1993) and § 1956 (1993). A superceding indictment alleging eight counts of mail fraud and money laundering was filed on August 8, 1994. The named defendants were Perez, Dimapilis, Coronel, Perez's South Pasadena office assistant Joseph Der-Yeghianyan, Perez's Burlingame

688 N.W.2d 565
office assistant Vivian Ocampo, and the St. Jude Medical Center

Under the indictment, the defendants were each charged with devising a scheme and artifice to defraud and obtain money by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and material omissions. More particularly, the defendants were charged with advancing personal injury claims based on false representations about the nature and extent of medical treatments rendered to supposed victims of automobile accidents. The physician and clinic administrator defendants were charged with preparing false medical bills and treatment records reflecting care never administered and expenses exceeding those actually incurred. Perez was charged with settling personal injury claims based on these false medical records.

On October 19, 1994, Perez pleaded guilty to four counts of mail fraud and was sentenced to five months of supervised home detention, three years of probation, and a fine of $3,000. Three months later, on January 20, 1995, the California State Bar suspended Perez from the practice of law in California pending final disposition of disciplinary proceedings. On April 13, 1995, the California State Bar Court issued an Order to Show Cause as to why Perez should not be disbarred. In October 1995, the California Supreme Court accepted Perez's resignation from the practice of law in California with charges pending from the California State Bar. Following Perez's resignation, the disciplinary proceedings were "dismissed without prejudice to further proceedings therein should he hereafter seek reinstatement." At the time the disciplinary action presently before us was filed, Perez had never sought reinstatement to the California State Bar. At oral argument, however, Perez indicated that he has inquired about and intends to seek reinstatement in California once this disciplinary action is resolved.

As soon as Perez was subject to disciplinary charges before the California State Bar, he was required to notify the Director of Minnesota's Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility that he was subject to public discipline in another jurisdiction. Minn. R. Lawyers Prof. Resp. 12(d) (2004).2 Perez did not notify the Director as required. Rather, he continued to work in the legal profession as a legal assistant from 1994 to 1999. In his oral presentation before the court, Perez admitted that shortly after his probation ended in 1999, he used his Minnesota license to practice immigration law in California and Arizona and continued to do so until 2004. Because he was not licensed to practice law in any other state, Perez practiced law using exclusively his Minnesota license. We note that during this time period, Perez's Minnesota license remained on continuing legal education restricted status.

On May 22, 2000, Perez failed to appear on behalf of a client in Arizona before Immigration Judge John W. Richardson. Richardson found Perez in contempt and filed a complaint with the Director's office. In October 2000, the Director issued Perez an admonition. At that time, the Director was aware that Perez resided in California and practiced law exclusively in federal

688 N.W.2d 566
immigration courts. Nevertheless, the Director did not discover until July 2003 that Perez had been convicted of...

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21 practice notes
  • In re Disciplinary Action Against Montez , No. A11–0125.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • February 22, 2012
    ...been ordered because the facts found by the referee did not support the conclusion that mitigating factors were present); In re Perez, 688 N.W.2d 562, 568–69 (Minn.2004) (reviewing the facts found by the referee to determine whether those facts supported a finding of multiple aggravating ci......
  • In re Siders, A17-0514
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • October 27, 2017
    ..."We generally view felony convictions as serious misconduct." In re Pitera, 827 N.W.2d 207, 210 (Minn. 2013) (quoting In re Perez, 688 N.W.2d 562, 567 (Minn. 2004) ) (internal quotation marks omitted). But respondent's criminal conduct in this case was unrelated to the practice of law, and ......
  • In re Disciplinary Action against Pugh, No. C7-97-1350.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • March 2, 2006
    ...sanction. In cases similar to this one, we have disbarred attorneys convicted of mail fraud and money laundering. See, e.g., In re Perez, 688 N.W.2d 562, 565, 569 (Minn. 2004) (disbarring attorney convicted of felony mail fraud related to his practice of law); Oberhauser, 679 N.W.2d at 154-......
  • In re Huff, No. A14–0024.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • December 30, 2015
    ...generally view ‘felony convictions as serious misconduct,’ " In re Pitera, 827 N.W.2d 207, 210 (Minn.2013) (quoting In re Perez, 688 N.W.2d 562, 567 (Minn.2004) ), and we have previously disbarred attorneys for "criminal conduct unrelated to the practice [of] law, including serious drug-rel......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • In re Disciplinary Action Against Montez , No. A11–0125.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • February 22, 2012
    ...been ordered because the facts found by the referee did not support the conclusion that mitigating factors were present); In re Perez, 688 N.W.2d 562, 568–69 (Minn.2004) (reviewing the facts found by the referee to determine whether those facts supported a finding of multiple aggravating ci......
  • In re Siders, A17-0514
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • October 27, 2017
    ..."We generally view felony convictions as serious misconduct." In re Pitera, 827 N.W.2d 207, 210 (Minn. 2013) (quoting In re Perez, 688 N.W.2d 562, 567 (Minn. 2004) ) (internal quotation marks omitted). But respondent's criminal conduct in this case was unrelated to the practice of law, and ......
  • In re Disciplinary Action against Pugh, No. C7-97-1350.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • March 2, 2006
    ...sanction. In cases similar to this one, we have disbarred attorneys convicted of mail fraud and money laundering. See, e.g., In re Perez, 688 N.W.2d 562, 565, 569 (Minn. 2004) (disbarring attorney convicted of felony mail fraud related to his practice of law); Oberhauser, 679 N.W.2d at 154-......
  • In re Huff, No. A14–0024.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • December 30, 2015
    ...generally view ‘felony convictions as serious misconduct,’ " In re Pitera, 827 N.W.2d 207, 210 (Minn.2013) (quoting In re Perez, 688 N.W.2d 562, 567 (Minn.2004) ), and we have previously disbarred attorneys for "criminal conduct unrelated to the practice [of] law, including serious drug-rel......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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