Andy Cohen knows what’s up.
Shortly after Cohen asked “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Dolores Catania about her ex-husband Frank’s status as a lawyer at the Season 8 reunion, Page Six learned that Frank was disbarred per Supreme Court of New Jersey records.
The decision to disbar Frank was made in August 2017 and it became effective in November of that year. A representative from the Office of Attorney Ethics did not get back to us on why the lapse occurred.
Frank was admitted to the bar on June 6, 1991 and mainly focused on real estate deals, “participating in at least one hundred closings,” per court documents obtained by Page Six.
In 2010, he represented a couple and the husband’s mother in a real estate deal that required a grant from the state due to the property’s location. The couple signed a deal to purchase the home, but discovered when they needed tile insurance that $190,000 had to be placed in an escrow account to secure their payment. On the day of the closing, Wells Fargo Bank wired $287,212.80 to Frank’s trust account and he credited the transfer to his client.
The $190,000 payment remained in a trust account during this time.
Frank then cut a check to an account, Cattino Fitness, for $150,000 in December 2010 using money from that trust.
“The memo line contained the notation, ‘[client’s name contribution],’ and [Frank] recorded the disbursement on the [redacted] client ledger card,” the documents said, noting that Cattino Fitness was owned by Anthony Rottino, who had no connection to the house sale and “the purpose of the $15,000 disbursement was to cover the gym’s payroll.”
Just days later, he cut another check to a law firm for legal fees, although they did not provide any services for the real estate sale. “Rather, they were for services rendered to a Harley Davidson business owned by [Frank] and Rottino.”
A random audit of Frank’s firm’s records was announced on June 6, 2012 and took place on June 25. During the audit, the investigator found that Frank did not keep running balances on his client’s ledger cards and two accounts came up short — one short of $10,000 and one of $503.69. The investigator determined that the $10,000 gap was due to the check Frank cut to the law firm which wasn’t listed on the closing.
At that point, the investigator told Frank to deposit the money within two weeks, but he failed to meet the deadline to do so. He later wrote a letter to the investigator on July 5, saying that the shortage “resulted from a mistake made in advising the client the total amount of funds needed for the closing,” but that was found to be untrue.
He said that his clients let him move the funds to his own accounts as loans, and that he should have replaced the money sooner.
Still, eight members of the disciplinary review board voted to disbar him (one did not participate).
Dolores later admitted to Amy Phillips on “Reality Checked with Amy Phillips” that the first time she heard about the disbarment was from Cohen and that she didn’t believe the disbarment would happen while he was being audited. Frank did not tell her about it and didn’t know the footage of him being disbarred was recorded.
This storyline will play out on the current season of “RHONJ.”