BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
OF THE
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
AND
DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION

In the Matter of:

 PAUL JOHN MAGANZINI,

Attorney-Respondent, 

No.  1729101.

 

Commission No.  09 CH 36

FILED -  June 22, 2009

COMPLAINT

Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Tracy L. Kepler, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(b), complains of Respondent Paul John Maganzini, who was licensed to practice law in Illinois on November 27, 1973, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice, or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute:

1. Between 1991 and 2000, Respondent represented Jean C. Zarlenga ("Jean") and her husband, John B. Zarlenga ("John") in various matters including the purchase of their home in Bloomingdale, Illinois (the "Bloomingdale property"), the preparation of a quit claim deed related to the Bloomingdale property, the sale of a condominium in Chicago, Illinois, and in civil litigation in their capacity as board members of the Country Club Estates Owner's Association.

2. On the morning of September 17, 2002, John contacted Respondent at his office by telephone and requested a meeting. When John arrived at Respondent's office, John presented Respondent with an Illinois Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney for Property ("POA") authorizing John to act as Jean's attorney-in-fact with regard to any real estate transactions. John told Respondent that he and Jean had executed the POA the prior evening and asked Respondent to notarize Jean's signature. John informed Respondent that he needed to deliver the POA to his bank, MB Financial Bank, because he and Jean were refinancing their mortgage on the Bloomingdale property.

3. The POA reflected that Jean's signature had been witnessed by Steve Trezek ("Trezek"), a personal friend of John. In his witness acknowledgement on the POA, Trezek certified that Jean was "known to me to be the same person whose name is subscribed as principal to the foregoing power of attorney, appeared before me and the notary public and acknowledged signing and delivering the instrument as the free and voluntary act of the principal, for the uses and purposes therein set forth. I believe him or her to be of sound mind or memory." Trezek signed and dated the POA.

4. At no time did Trezek meet or speak to Jean nor did he witness Jean's execution of the POA.

5. On September 17, 2002, Respondent notarized Jean's purported signature on the POA. In his notary acknowledgement, Respondent certified that Jean was "known to me to be the same person whose name is subscribed as principal to the foregoing power of attorney, appeared before me and the additional witness in person and acknowledged signing and delivering the instrument as the free and voluntary act of the principal, for the uses and purposes therein set forth (and certified to the correctness of the signature(s) of the agent(s))." Respondent signed, dated and affixed his notary stamp to the POA.

6. At or about that same time, Respondent notarized the signature of Trezek as witness on the POA and affixed his notary stamp to the POA.

7. At no time did Respondent observe Jean sign the POA and at no time had Jean signed the POA. Respondent's statement in his notary acknowledgement attached to the POA, that Jean appeared before him to sign the POA, was false, in that Jean never appeared before him to sign the POA. Respondent made no attempt to contact Jean or Trezek to determine whether they had signed the POA.

8. On October 10, 2002, John called Respondent and asked if he could stop by Respondent's office. Upon arrival, John told Respondent that his bank would not accept the POA referenced in paragraph 2 above, that he was in the middle of the closing on the refinancing of the Bloomingdale property, and since Respondent had notarized the original POA, the bank wanted Respondent to also notarize the mortgage. John presented Respondent with a mortgage in the amount of $245,000, dated October 10, 2002, purportedly executed by John and Jean, and requested that Respondent notarize their signatures.

9. On October 10, 2002, Respondent notarized John and Jean's signatures on the mortgage. In his notary acknowledgement, Respondent stated that "the foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this 10-10-02 by John B. Zarlenga, Jean C. Zarlenga." Respondent signed, dated and affixed his notary stamp to the mortgage.

10. At no time did Respondent observe Jean sign the mortgage, and at no time had Jean signed the mortgage. Respondent's statement in his notary acknowledgement attached to the mortgage, that Jean acknowledged the signature on the mortgage before him on October 10, 2002, was false, in that Jean never signed the mortgage nor acknowledged her signature on the mortgage before Respondent. Respondent made no attempt to contact Jean to determine whether she had signed the mortgage.

11. On October 25, 2002, an agent on behalf of MB Financial Bank recorded the mortgage referenced in paragraph 8 above.

12. On March 9, 2004, John contacted Respondent at his office by telephone and requested a meeting. When John arrived at Respondent's office, John presented Respondent with a copy of the September 17, 2002 POA authorizing John to act as Jean's attorney-in-fact with regard to any real estate transactions. On the POA presented to Respondent were the additional signatures of John and the purported signature of Jean. John told Respondent that he and Jean had re-executed the POA, and it was to be used in refinancing their mortgage on the Bloomingdale property. John asked Respondent to notarize Jean's additional purported signature on the POA and Respondent complied by affixing his signature, date and notary stamp to the POA.

13. At all times alleged in this complaint, the Illinois Notary Act, 5 ILCS 312/6-102, required that notary publics witness the signature being notarized or verify that the signature on the document is that of the person whose signature is being notarized. 5 ILCS 312/7-105 provided that a notary who willfully violates the act is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, and that a notary who recklessly or negligently violates the act is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.

14. By notarizing Jean and Trezek's signatures on the September 17, 2002 POA, and Jean's signature on the October 10, 2002 mortgage and March 9, 2004 POA, without witnessing them sign the documents, and making no attempt to determine whether they had actually signed the documents, Respondent engaged in criminal conduct in violation of 5 ILCS 312/6-102 and 5 ILCS 312/7-105.

15. On October 30, 2007, during discovery in her then-pending dissolution of marriage proceeding, Jean learned for the first time of the existence of the prior mortgages on the Bloomingdale property totaling approximately $535,000 that John had taken without her authority.

16. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:

  1. committing criminal acts, violations of 5 ILCS 312/6-102 and 5 ILCS 312/7-105, that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct;

  2. conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct; and,

  3. conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute, in violation of Supreme Court Rule 770.

WHEREFORE, the Administrator requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.

Tracy L. Kepler
Counsel for the Administrator
One Prudential Plaza
130 E. Randolph Drive, #1500
Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone: (312) 565-2600
Facsimile: (312) 565-2320
Respectfully submitted,

Jerome Larkin, Administrator
Attorney Registration and
Disciplinary Commission

By:   Tracy L. Kepler