On September 23, 2022, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ordered the disbarment of former Florida attorney Milan K. Patel from the practice of law for conviction of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud in a district court in Massachusetts.

The case is styled In the Matter of Milan K. Patel, was brought by the Office of Attorney Ethics, with case #DRB21-222.

The charges cited Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) and 8.4(c), which state:

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on a lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respect.

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

The New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

The following are as alleged and summarized from the filing:

The respondent and Morrie Tobin, co-conspirator engaged in an illegal “pump-and-dump scheme. Respondent conspired to commit securities fraud by concealing Tobin’s ownership and control of various securites; employing paid promotional campaigns and manipulative trading techniques to inflate the price of stocks to enable Tobin and others to secretly sell their shares at a substantial profit, defrauding investors. The purpose of this conspiracy was for respondent, Tobin, and others to make a profit from the illegal stock sales and to conceal their actions from regulators, law enforcement, and investors.

According to the filing: 

“In summary, respondent admitted that, for a five-year period spanning from 2013 through 2018, he conspired to commit securities fraud by (1)concealing Tobin’s ownership and control of various securities, and (2)employing paid promotional campaigns and manipulative trading techniques to artificially inflate the price and trading volume of those stocks to enable Tobin and others to secretly sell their shares at a substantial profit, thus, defrauding investors. The purpose of this conspiracy was for respondent, Tobin, and others to make a profit from the illegal stock sales and to conceal their actions from regulators, law enforcement, and investors.”

The filing continues:

“Respondent accepted responsibility for his crimes, which admittedly were intended to produce total profits of more than $15 million. In discussing his position as an attorney, respondent acknowledged that he “hurt people with [his]skills rather than help[] them” and “deservedly los[t] [his] privilege to practice law, which [he] underst[oo]d and accept[ed] as a consequence of [his] actions.”

The filing additionally notes:

“Also at the August 13, 2020 sentencing hearing, the District Judge stated that respondent “didn’t make a mistake [. . . .] [He] committed a crime, and there is a major difference between a mistake and a crime.” The Judge further addressed the seriousness of respondent’s crime, in consideration of his legal background, stating:

You were an attorney at law, a noble professional. You not only have a juris doctor, but a master of law, both from prestigious law schools. You studied the law. Youknow the nuances of the law. You know what is or isn’t a fraudulent deal. You were in a position of trust.

Because you were a lawyer, your case needs to be reviewed carefully for specific deterrence. You and any other lawyer who would engage in such securities fraud crimes needs to be sent a clear and stern message. You are not only going to lose your license to practice. You are going to go to jail.”

In February 2019, Respondent pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud. Respondent was sentenced by a federal court in Boston to 15 months in prison and to pay a fine of $50,000 on August 2020.

The Disciplinary Review Board on March 25, 2022, entered its Decision and recommended to the Court that respondent be disbarred and to reimburse the Disciplinary Oversight Committee for administrative costs and actual expenses incurred in the prosecution of this matter.

With the foregoing facts and discussions, the court ruled against the Respondent in relation to the above-cited Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Order reads:

“It is ORDERED that Milan K. Patel is hereby disbarred, effective immediately, and that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys; and it is further

ORDERED that Milan K. Patel be and hereby is permanently restrained and enjoined from practicing law; and it is further

ORDERED that all funds, if any, currently existing or hereinafter deposited in any New Jersey financial institution maintained by Milan K. Patel pursuant to Rule 1:21-6 shall be restrained from disbursement and shall be transferred by the financial institution to the Clerk of the Superior Court, who is directed to deposit the funds in the Superior Court Trust Fund pending the further Order of this Court.”

Mr. Patel had been licensed in New Jersey and New York.

A copy of the order of disbarment can be found here.