Richard Mazza, Richard Mazza, Executor of the Estate of Henry Mazza, Robert L. Mazza, Complainant vs. William Bieluch, Respondent
Grievance Complaint #01-0393
Pursuant to Practice Book §2-35, the undersigned, duly-appointed reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, conducted hearings at the Superior Court, 1061 Main Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut on April 3, 2002, July 10, 2002, October 9, 2002, December 11, 2002, May 14, 2003 and July 8, 2003. The hearings addressed the record of the complaint filed on November 1, 2001, and the probable cause determination filed by the Stamford/Norwalk Judicial District Grievance Panel on February 20, 2002, finding that there existed probable cause that the Respondent violated Rules 1.5(b), 1.7(a) and (b), and 1.8 (a) and (c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notice of the hearings was provided to the Complainants and to the Respondent. The April 3, 2002 hearing was continued due to the lack of a quorum. The May 14, 2003 hearing was continued at the request of the Respondent. The Complainant Robert Mazza was represented by Attorney Mark Carta. The Complainant Richard Mazza was represented by Attorney Joseph Richichi. The Complainant Richard Mazza, as Executor of the Estate of Henry Mazza, was represented by Attorney Steven Ayres. The Respondent was represented by Attorney Kevin M. O’Grady from December 11, 2001 until March 20, 2002. The Respondent was represented by Attorney Edward N. Lerner from March 20, 2002 until May 5, 2003. The Respondent was represented by Attorney Ridgely Brown commencing May 14, 2003. The Complainants and the Respondent testified at the hearings. This reviewing committee also heard testimony from Donna Rajczewski and Attorney Heather Brown. Exhibits were admitted into evidence.
Reviewing committee member Attorney Christopher Carveth recused himself during the course of the proceedings. Statewide Grievance Committee member Attorney Dominick J. Rutigliano was substituted for Attorney Carveth and reviewed a complete copy of the record, including the applicable transcripts and exhibits, prior to participating in the decision of this case.
This reviewing committee finds the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:
was the longtime attorney for Henry Mazza, the father of the Complainants and
their brother, Terry Mazza. Henry Mazza
operated The Sugar Bowl, a
Henry Mazza died on April 11, 1999. The Complainant Richard Mazza, was named as
the executor of Henry Mazza’s estate.
The Respondent was retained to represent Richard Mazza in the probate of
Henry Mazza’s estate, but did not provide Richard Mazza with a fee
agreement. In 2000, the Respondent
represented all of the Mazza sons in the eviction of tenants at the
After their father’s death, the Complainants decided
to sell the
This reviewing committee concludes by clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent violated Rules 1.5(b) and 1.7(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. With regard to our findings relative to Rule 1.5(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, we conclude that the Respondent failed to have a fee agreement with Richard Mazza after being retained to represent Richard Mazza in the probate matters surrounding Henry Mazza’s estate. There was no evidence that the Respondent regularly represented Richard Mazza prior to his retention for the probate work. Certainly the Respondent did not regularly represent Richard Mazza in his official capacity as the executor of his father’s estate. We conclude that the Respondent was required to provide Richard Mazza with a written understanding of the scope of the representation and the fees to be charged. The Respondent’s failure to have a fee agreement violated Rule 1.5(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
With regard to our findings relative to Rule 1.7(b)
of the Rules of Professional Conduct, we conclude that there is clear and
convincing evidence that the Respondent’s representation of Henry Mazza’s sons
and Richard Mazza as executor of his father’s estate conflicted with the
Respondent’s own interests because the Respondent was a one-eighteenth owner in
We do not find clear and convincing evidence regarding the other probable cause findings. We do not find clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent’s representation of the Complainants or any of Henry Mazza’s sons was directly adverse to any other client and in violation of Rule 1.7(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Also, there was not clear and convincing evidence in the record that the Respondent violated Rule 1.8(a) or (c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. With regard to Rule 1.8(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, we do not believe that the Respondent was involved in a “business transaction” with either Henry Mazza or the Complainants. While the deed to the Respondent from Henry Mazza might, in other circumstances, have violated Rule 1.8(c), we conclude that the Complainants did not provide clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent prepared the deed such that we could find a violation of the rule.
The Respondent is reprimanded for violating Rules 1.5(b) and 1.7(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Attorney Raymond B. Rubens
Attorney Dominick J. Rutigliano
Mr. William Carroll