Edward Fagan is most known for representing the original first named plaintiff, Gizella Weisshaus, in the 1996 Holocaust lawsuit against the Union Bank of Switzerland. That heavily litigated proceeding resulted in a $1.25 Billion dollar settlement in 2001, and generated a $1.3 million dollar legal fee to Fagan.
The blistering New Jersey Ethics Report concluded that Ed Fagan improperly used $39,902.25 of Holocaust Survivor Gizell Weisshaus’ money to pay his New York law office rent at 26 Broadway in Manhattan.
The disciplinary probe by the Office of Attorney Ethics of the Supreme Court of New Jersey also found that Mr. Fagan had lied about being authorized to disburse monies totaling nearly $400,000.00 given to him by Mrs. Weisshaus and another holocaust survivor, Estelle Sapir.
The New Jersey complaint resulted from a routine investigation conducted by the Office of Attorney Ethics when Mr. Fagan failed to pay his required annual client security fund fee. After he was suspended for nonpayment of the client security fund fee, the ethics committee further investigated Fagan to determine whether he was practicing law during the period of the suspension. That investigation raised questions about his possible misuse of trust account funds, including the Weisshaus and Sapir monies.
Fagan’s testimony during the ethics hearings revealed that in July of 2001, he received a $4.3 million lee fee in a Holocaust related German Global property settlement, in addition to the $1.3 million fee from the Swiss Bank case.
Previously, on Tuesday, August 28, 2007, this forum reported on one of the on-going horrors facing what people who know her describe as "the strong and beautiful Holocaust survivor Weisshaus." That report was titled, "Patentgate Ethics Scam Hits Holocaust Survivor."
As a young girl, Mrs. Gizella Weisshaus survived the Holocaust, but recently and now 77-years-old, she finds herself on the growing list of victims ensnarled in the Manhattan attorney ethics scandal shaking the New York State Court system.
In July of 2007, it became publicly known that many ethics complaints against attorneys in the Bronx and Manhattan were methodically mishandled-- effectively buried or stalled—due to politically-based connections, favors or back-room deals. The "Patentgate" matter quickly highlighted the need in New York for federal intervention since the alleged theft of dozens of U.S. patents by the inventor's own New York lawyers-- the once respected and politically connected Proskauer Rose law firm-- went largely and substantively unaddressed. The Patentgate ethics complaints were obscured in New York at the very same time the identical issues found The United States Department of Justice widening their own investigation and, additionally, where members of the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary committees called for further probes. The ongoing ethics shake-up resulted in the quickly announced "retirement" of Manhattan's top State ethics Chief Counsel, Thomas J. Cahill, Esq., and whose replacement is expected to be announced soon. (See the related August 24, 2007 story below: "Justice Department Widens "Patentgate" Probe Buried by Ethics Chief Thomas J. Cahill" )
Holocaust Survivor meets New York “Ethics”
Mrs. Gizella Weisshaus was the named plaintiff in the 1996 filed historic lawsuit against Swiss banks that, after being designated as a class action proceeding, was settled in 1998 on behalf of thousands of Holocaust survivors for $1.25 billion.
Gizella, however, opted out of that settlement because, she says, certain involved attorneys were more interested in paying themselves millions of dollars even before some of the survivors had received any money. She would also learn, she says, that someone "manufactured" a necessary amended complaint in 2000 by backdating that court document to 1997. And she would also find that in an unrelated estate proceeding where she was the executrix, her own lawyer, Edward D. Fagan, had failed to deposit more than $82,000.00 into an attorney escrow account choosing, instead, to use the money for his own various personal expenses. (Mr. Fagan also represented Mrs. Weisshaus in the subsequent filing against the Swiss banks and from where he ultimately received millions of dollars in legal fees)
The Devil's Advocate
An attorney ethics complaint followed, and in a letter dated May 6, 1998, attorney disciplinary Chief Counsel Thomas J. Cahill's predecessor, Hal R. Lieberman, Esq., wrote to Gizella to advise that since her complaint against attorney Edward Fagan had involved an "ongoing criminal proceeding" his office would await the outcome of that proceeding before concluding their disciplinary investigation. Then-Chief Counsel Lieberman also advised Gizella that his New York State ethic's office had requested a written answer to the complaint from attorney Fagan. Edward Fagan then hired his own lawyer.
Letter to Self
Approximately 9 weeks later, in a July 15, 1998 dated formal answer to the charges against him, attorney Fagan's lawyer submitted a 6-page denial of the various charges made by Mrs. Weisshaus. Astonishingly, attorney Fagan's lawyer, who he had recently engaged, was none other than Hal R. Lieberman who, in a 9-week period of time, had left his position as Chief Counsel of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department Disciplinary Committee to join the law firm Beldock Levin & Hoffman, LLP.
So, essentially, on July 15, 1998 private attorney Hal Lieberman was responding to himself-- to his own May 6, 1998 letter wherein he, as the New York state-employed Ethics Chief Counsel had advised Gizella of the request for a written answer from the attorney she had filed a complaint against, and the same person who was to be Lieberman's client-- Edward Fagan.
Concerning the various ethics complaints against him in New York, no known action has ever been taken against attorney Edward D. Fagan.
To the right, see the documents marked:
1. NJ Ethics Findings- Disbar Fagan; and
2. "Weisshaus Fagan Lieberman" A May 6, 1998 dated letter from NY State Attorney Disciplinary Committee Chief Counsel Hal R. Lieberman to Mrs. Gizella Weisshaus RE: Edward Fagan (1 page); and A July 15, 1998 dated Answer to Complaint from private attorney Hal R. Lieberman to Mrs. Gizella Weisshaus RE: Edward Fagan (6 pages).
A Special Report by Expose Corrupt Courts by Frank Brady (c) 2008