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  • Refuge for the Disbarred

    Posted on December 16th, 2009 Mark Bennett 18 comments

    See this exchange (very tall JPEG) between Miami bar defense lawyer Brian Tannebaum and real estate lawyer real estate law specialist Real Estate Law & Investment Specialist, Broker & Social Media Consultant; Deal Closer & innovator real-estate-law-investments-loss-mitigation-and-social-media-consulting something Kathleen A. Scanlon.

    Brian’s target, it seems, pled guilty to mortgage fraud in state court in New York, and while awaiting sentencing and delinquent with the bar continued to “network” as a real estate lawyer on Twitter. When Brian inquired, she responded. There was some back-and-forth, and then she deleted her own replies to Brian and claimed not to have (“I don’t know why my replies are not showing up . . . what did I delete??? are you insane?” Then she changed her bio on Twitter—three times. (Tannebaum twitted, “I want to apologize to everyone for turning @kasesq94 into a “Social Media Consultant.”)

    I sympathize with Scanlon, trying to make the best of the very bad situation she’s gotten herself into. She may well have a partner and employees (if you believe her website, she has a staff of beautiful people in expensive suits) who are depending on her to make a smooth transition to what she calls her “hiatus,” and a family depending on her to bring food home during that break.

    I also understand the appeal of “Social Media Consultant.” It is a title that any idiot can give himself; it requires no sort of expertise whatsoever, and no equipment but a computer with an internet connection (which the former lawyer won’t be using to practice law). Barriers to entry in this specialty are very low. Scanlon will not be the first lawyer who, forced out of the practice of law, has redefined herself as a blog or other social media expert.

    In fact, it follows from the basic premise of online marketing—that, as self-proclaimed expert Adrianos Facchetti writes, “You are what Google says you are”—that by merely marketing yourself online as an expert you become an expert qualified to take people’s money to tell them how to become experts by marketing themselves online as experts. It’s turtles all the way down.

    So what’s wrong with that? If some naive lawyer, not having the first clue about online social media, wants to pay a convicted, disbarred, or otherwise disgraced ex-lawyer to show her the ropes, what harm is done?

    None, if the naif knows what she is getting and the consultant doesn’t lead her to do anything untoward or deceptive. But when the disgraced lawyer is deliberately concealing the fact that he is a disgraced lawyer, these questions are raised: is the naif getting what she thinks she is getting (or is she trusting someone whom she would not trust if the truth were revealed); and will the consultant, for whom deception has worked, teach the naif to be open and honest (or will he teach her what worked for him: concealment and deception)?

    I appreciate that it might be difficult for the social media expert to get hired if the world knows that he has been disbarred for raiding minors’ trust funds or convicted of mortgage fraud, and I believe strongly in redemption, but holding oneself out as something one is not seems to me an unlikely path to redemption.

    So what did disgraced lawyers do before there was such a thing as a social media consultant?

 

18 responses to “Refuge for the Disbarred” RSS icon

  • They got real jobs or went homeless.

  • It appears that your little group has plenty of time on your hands and I knew that you would have nothing better to talk about other than the diatribe from last night but I certainly didn’t think you would start discussing my family and bashing the time I spend with my children. Another example from this morning:

    “@jackieesquire No, I think not. I have a gingerbread-making appointment with a kindergarten class this afternoon.”

    What is wrong with you???? And, let me correct a piece of familial mis-information – I am not the “bread-winner” in my family.

    With respect to the criminal case, I pled to Scheme to Defraud because I was advised to do so in light of the non-incarceration promise, the seriousness of the charges & possible penalties, the incredibly prohibitive cost of going to trial (which is what I wanted to do at the risk of blowing my children’s college education fund) and probably the most important – that I am the mother of two elementary school age boys. Perhaps you might want to peruse the indictment for a better background on this case: http://manhattanda.org/whatsnew/press/2009-07-8.pdf . Use your super criminal lawyer skills and search my name in there. My lawyer’s first reaction was “what did you do? where is the crime?”. I put my family first, ahead of the law license because I have my priorities straight.

    I am further amazed that the criminal bar blogs about the failings of the criminal justice system, prosecutorial misconduct etc. but that you decide now to become self-righteous and look down your nose at me. I think Gideon said it best in his post at http://apublicdefender.com/2009/10/18/id-probably-run/ :

    “I’d never, never (well okay, almost never) risk a jury trial. I’ve come to the conclusion that jury trials are a crapshoot. That you’re always taking an immense risk placing your fate in the hands of 6 (or 12) strangers, who might have their own agenda and their own skewed view of the evidence. That you’re placing your fate in the hands of your lawyer, who may – with the best of intentions – pick the wrong approach to convince your jury.
    Everyone knows what the consequences are of going to trial and losing. It’s called the trial tax for a reason.
    I’m more convinced than ever that I’d never take that risk. That I’d probably plead to something I didn’t do to spare myself the agony of the Russian roulette that is a jury trial.
    I’m sure there are many more like me. Which means there are many, many more innocent people in jail than we currently estimate.”

    Further, not only did I not hide this horrible mess, I tweeted about it – take for instance “ritabrad RT @kasesq94 I got referred 2 buyers. Closed 3 deals and all of a sudden I’m part of a criminal enterprise. Its a nightmare.” I have had twitter conversations with some great criminal law attorneys about the mess and, unlike your group, have taken the time to read the indictment and understand the nature of the case. It is also evidenced by my twitter conversation with @btannenbaum – I answered each and every one of his questions. I have used it to warn other real estate attorneys that appearances count and how to try to avoid getting caught in the net.

    With respect to the website you referred to, it hasn’t been updated in at least over a year and we do not own the domain – that is why I do not link to it. My sites and profiles do, in fact, reflect my status. I do not have anything to hide – my clients and colleagues know what kind of person I am. But, contrary to apparently yours & btannenbaum’s opinion, I don’t feel as if I need to wear it as a badge either and I have been advised by my attorneys not to discuss the matter.

    As far as social media goes, I have been doing part-time consulting work for some real estate colleagues and local businesses so I would think it more than proper to have “Social Media Consultant” as part of my bio. Again, unlike you and your cronies, I use twitter and other social networking sites to share useful information – not bash people nor do I solicit business there. Not once. Further, I did not add the title last night – it has been there – but I have been rewording all of my bios and profiles recently to correctly align with where I am currently at professionally.

    I used to respect you and the others – I see that you are no different than the other jaded members of the criminal bar whether on the government side or not. It also makes me more comfortable with my decision to sacrifice my law license – I don’t want to be part of a profession that counts you and your kind among its members.

    Good luck to you and Merry Christmas!

    • Holy fuck you’re stupid and narcissistic.

      Honest people expect others to be honest. Dishonest people expect others to be dishonest. So when I wrote on Twitter to my (real-world) friend Jackie that I had a gingerbread-making appointment with a kindergarten class, rather than conclude (correctly) that I was making gingerbread cookies (it being the holiday season) with one of my kids’ classes, you assumed that I was lying and, further, that it was somehow about you.

      It already appeared that you were criminally “it seems like a good idea to throw away a law degree and fifteen years of practice” narcissistic and stupid, but now it appears that you are terminally “too stupid to be a social media consultant” narcissistic and stupid.

      And that’s narcissistic and stupid.

      • If that is the case, excuse me for my assumption – the comment seemed to be part of the type of personal bashing that you engage in. Which is further evidenced by your response.

        Res Ipsa Loquitor sir.

        • The tweet seemed to you to be about you. Why? Because you’re narcissistic.

          Seriously, is this how you would counsel your social-media consultancy clients to respond—delete comments on Twitter, deny having deleted them, and then comment on some pissant little blog that would otherwise have been little read and soon forgotten?

          You weren’t attacked here, only held up as an example, until you commented. Now I wouldn’t call describing you as narcissistic and stupid as an attack, but rather as reportage.

          • ROFLMAO – so apparently I am narcissistic and you are obviously childish and delusional.

            Any more name-calling you would like to engage in? This does feel like kindergarten! You have to forgive my surprise that the gingerbread remark was not aimed at me. I just worked on gingerbread houses this week with 2nd graders and I couldn’t imagine that you would have young children.

        • One more thing: “if that is the case”?

          You’re so steeped in deception that you can’t, even now, accept that I’m telling the truth about making gingerbread cookies.

          Sad.

          • Kathleen A. Scanlon

            Steeped in deception? No. Surprised? Yes.

            You don’t appear to be the gingerbread-making type. It is very cute of you.

            Enjoy!

  • Yes. The radio transmitter in your head told me that you alone, out of all the people in the world, had worked on gingerbread houses this week, so I twitted about it. And you didn’t really rip off the know you were participating in mortgage fraud, but you just lied under oath to the judge when you pled guilty [edit: and said that you were pleading guilty because you were guilty]. And you’re the greatest social media consultant in the world.

    Clearly your imagination is deficient only in certain areas.

    While you’re moving in to your castles in the sky, can we get back on task? I’d love an answer to my question about your advice, as a social media consultant, to clients in your position.

    • Kathleen A. Scanlon

      1. Plea was not under oath.

      2. I did not rip off anyone – I collected the legal fee that was agreed upon with the buyer or seller. The allegation was solely that I “participated in a sham closing”.

      3. I am sure lots of people are making gingerbread cookies, houses etc this week but I certainly could not imagine YOU making gingerbread cookies.

      4. The social media consulting that I do is to assist people with setting up profiles, linking their profiles, creating blogs, adding feeds to an RSS reader and sharing information with other people in their industry. I do not advise them of how to manage their business. This is a purely enjoyable project for me – not a career.

      • We’ve already established that you know nothing about me; kindly stop trying to use your defective imagination on me.

        Tell the people who lost their life’s savings when the mortgage bubble collapsed that you didn’t rip anybody off by participating in a sham closing. I doubt that they’ll have much sympathy.

        Back to task: would you advise the people you assist to delete (and then deny deleting) Twitter posts? Because that gets one’s attention.

        • Talking about imagination reaching new heights – now I am responsible for those “who lost their life savings” in the housing bubble collapsing? Who – the ones who lied on their loan applications (85% of the mortgage fraud) or who borrowed 106% of the value of their house?

          I suggest counselor that you stick to an area of law where you possibly have some sort of knowledge. Your ignorance is showing.

          I do not advise anyone on social media policy – did you miss that? Did I stutter?

          • No, Bender, you didn’t stutter. You just didn’t say that.

            Did your 14 years in law teach you that banks give out magic money that, once it is stolen, doesn’t have to be replaced. The American taxpayer will be paying for the mortgage fraud of the nineties and oughties, in one way or another, for decades.

            Indirect harm? Maybe, but harm nonetheless.

            By the way, does your criminal defense lawyer know that, pending sentencing, you’re publicly denying that the crime you committed caused any harm when you committed whatever crime you didn’t-commit-but-pled-guilty-to-in-open-court-but-not-under-oath-so-it-doesn’t-count? (Is that an accurate statement of your current position?)

  • If I were her lawyer, I would advise her to NOT discuss this pending sentencing. It may surprise her to know that judges, prosecutors and even court baliffs know how to use the internet.

    One of the first things I recommend to clients is to shut down their myspace, facebook and twitter accounts pending a resolution.

  • Strange I don’t believe I have discussed the actual merits of the case but merely pointed you to the indictment which, of course, is public record, as well as the reasoning behind accepting a plea deal. Which, I believe, is the reasoning process behind any plea deal. As far as “ripping off” anyone, I collected my legal fee from my client – there are no allegations otherwise. Again, the sole allegation is that I participated in a sham closing by representing a buyer or seller.

    Further, it wasn’t mortgage fraud my friend – that didn’t come on the books until Fall of 2008 here in NY.

    The American taxpayer is paying for those individuals who lived far above their means and:
    1. decided to use their homes as an ATM; and
    3. lied about their income and assets;
    There are two types of fraud – Fraud for Housing & Fraud for Profit. These examples fall under the category of Fraud for Housing. Fraud for Housing Makes up 85% of the mortgage fraud committed.

    It is the policy of the enforcement agents not to prosecute Fraud for Housing. Go figure.

    • Your indictment (which you’ve kindly linked to) speaks to itself. What it describes (as you say in your next-to-last paragraph) is mortgage fraud, whether New York called it that on the books or not.

      (Which count or counts did you plead guilty to, by the way?)

      Are you saying that you participated in a sham closing without knowing that it was a sham closing? Because, other than the Magic Money theory, I don’t see how knowingly participating in a sham closing is not ripping someone off.

  • Scheme to Defraud in the 1st and as you correctly said, I cannot yet answer the question regarding my “participation”. Once this is done and overwith, I would be more than happy to expound on the subject.

    AFG apparently closed hundreds of transactions starting in the early 2000s. I was referred those clients the end of 2007 beginning of 2008 when they apparently turned in their mortgage broker license. Discovery indicated that AFG employees had altered title documents, provided fake Verification of Deposits, Verifications of Employments, etc., paid off buyers after closing back at their respective homes (in the indictment) and so forth. Bank underwriters ignored First American Core Logic Fraud Reports and issued approvals on patently unqualified buyers & questionable properties.

    Unfortunately, again, I cannot comment on these facts at this time.

    But my point is, I didn’t hide this nightmare, all the clients & colleagues of the firm are aware of it and I have been adjusting my online profiles to be in line with my situation. I have profiles on numerous sites and the twitter profile was one of the only ones I had not gotten to. I rarely visit the twitter site itself as I access the twitter feed through TweetDeck.

    As far as social media goes, I am not a guru selling a $29 e-book on how to get more followers or other such nonsense. I am a tech geek – I do a lot of work with Photoshop and web design – more as a hobby. Friends and clients have asked me to help them create profiles, blogs and so forth and how to manage the overwhelming influx of information so as not to end up with “information overload”. This is not a career for me per se – its just something I enjoy.

    Not one of my posts, tweets etc. was a solicitation for business. Each and every one is a content share. Solicitations for business constitute spam.

    • Okay, let’s not talk about the facts; let’s talk about what you told the judge (though not under oath) when you pled guilty.

      Did the elements of the offense to which you pled guilty include some culpable mental state? Or does New York punish lawyers who are involved in schemes to defraud even when they don’t know the nature of the schemes?

      Was it an Alford plea, or did you tell the judge that you were pleading guilty because you were guilty? (Fingers crossed?)

      Then let’s talk about Magic Money, which can wind up in the pockets of fraudsters without any loss to anyone.

      After we’ve exhausted those topics, we can talk about disappearing tweets, without which this post wouldn’t likely have been written.


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