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NJ lawyer pleads guilty to gambling away $4 million in clients’ money January 4, 2009

Posted by jefhenningeresq in News.
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This is a real sad story.  Even though I didn’t know this fellow NJ attorney, I know how gambling addictions can ruin people as I have a good client right now that I am helping right now.  Sometimes I feel like I’m bailing out a sinking cruise ship with a plastic cup, but so far, we’ve resolved several issues without any police involvement.  Hopefully I can write a detailed story about the case one day.  I’ve represented other people with gambling addictions in the past. 

This attorney, Michael Rumore entered into a plea that calls for 15 years of prison.  Compare that to the four years of probation that Kenneth Weiner, another NJ attorney got.  See the story about Weiner here.  If anyone knows that you can’t always compare cases, its me.  However, I’m having a real problem with this 15 years. 

According to the story, this gambling problem had been going on for years.  However, Rumore, a real estate attorney, would use his own money when business was good.  When the economy turned he used the money from lenders in his trust account that was supposed to pay balances on existing mortgages and other associated costs and fees. 

As a first time offender, Rumore would have several mitigating factors in his favor right from the start.  His attorney could have probably established several factors due to his addiction.  Thus, if convicted at trial, there is a good chance he could get 15 years anyway which is the minimum.  Since two of his charges do not merge, the best he could get would be an 8, but that would be a long shot.  Something between an 8 and 15 could be possible.

As always, I don’t want to second guess his attorney, but I have trouble seeing how I would advise this guy to take this deal.  If they are going to get 15 years, I would make them work for it.  Why not take it to trial?  This guy’s life is going to be ruined.  He’ll be in prison for a few years, probably less than 5, but then what?  He’ll have no job and he’ll owe this money forever.  What’s the purpose of 15 years?  To deter someone else?  You can’t deter someone with this type of addiction.  As his attorney said, he went days without sleep as he kept feeding his addiction.  I’m not saying he should go free, but you can’t give him the same sentence that you would give to a criminal that was just plain greedy. 

As always, I’m sure I’ll catch hell for my comments here, but 1, I’m a defense attorney, what do you want? and 2, just wait until this is you or your family and then tell me that you want yourself or them to get 15 years.  But that’s right, no one you know has a mental illness. 

Rumore’s story is here.

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