On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a one-year suspension to attorney Marcy Gendel’s license to practice law. The court found that Gendel has committed numerous ethics violations in her legal practice spanning over a decade.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Marcy E. Gendel,” with case no. 088158.
The charges cited New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(a), 1.15(b), 8.4(b), and 8.4(c) which states:
Negligent misappropriation of client funds.
Failing to promptly deliver funds belonging to a client or third party.
Committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.
Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
The court’s decision comes after a review of disciplinary proceedings brought by the Disciplinary Review Board. In April 2023, a special ethics master appointed to the case found that Gendel, who has been an attorney since 1977, committed multiple violations of New Jersey’s Rules of Professional Conduct in her real estate practice and in fraudulently obtaining aid following Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The allegations stem from two separate but related matters. In the first matter, an investigation revealed that from 2011 through 2015, Gendel routinely overcharged buyers and sellers for costs like land surveys, deed recordings, title fees, and other charges in 138 real estate transactions. She would retain the difference between what she billed clients and what she actually paid to vendors, pocketing over $66,938.45 that did not belong to her. Gendel also admitted to mishandling client funds and failing to properly maintain her attorney trust account records.
In the second matter, the special ethics master found that Gendel committed theft by deception and unsworn falsification when she applied for and received disaster relief assistance for a beach property in Point Pleasant that was not actually her primary residence when Superstorm Sandy struck. Gendel had been living in Essex County for months prior to the storm but falsely claimed the beach home as her primary address on applications to FEMA, the Small Business Administration, and New Jersey’s Resettlement Grant Program on June 27, 2013, in order to obtain over $10,000 in aid.
While Gendel accepted responsibility for some of her misconduct, she denied any intent to defraud clients or government agencies. However, the special ethics master concluded her actions violated New Jersey ethics rules around misappropriation of funds, trust account management, criminal conduct, dishonesty, fraud, and misrepresentation.
The ethics matter then went before the Disciplinary Review Board. While four board members felt Gendel’s conduct warranted outright disbarment, another four believed a two-year suspension was appropriate given mitigating factors like Gendel’s overall clean disciplinary record spanning four decades of practice.
The Supreme Court took up the matter on its own accord given the lack of consensus among the board members about the appropriate disciplinary action for Gendel’s violations. After reviewing the case, the Supreme Court imposed a one-year suspension on Gendel starting December 8, 2023. The high court determined this punishment was warranted given Gendel’s misconduct. She will be barred from practicing law during her suspension and must comply with requirements to be reinstated.
According to avvo.com, Mr. Gendel is a banking attorney in Springfield, New Jersey. He acquired his law license in New Jersey in 1977.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.