VIRGINIA: BEFORE THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD



IN THE MATTER OF

OSCAR DE LEON NOBLEJAS



VSB DOCKET NO. 01-052-0781



ORDER





This matter was certified to the Disciplinary Board by the Fifth District Section II Committee and was heard on November 16, 2001, by a duly convened panel of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board consisting of Richard J. Colten, Esquire, presiding, Bruce T. Clark, Esquire, Werner H. Quasebarth, lay member, Anthony J. Trenga, Esquire, and H. Taylor Williams, IV, Esquire. The chairman directed the Clerk to call the case three times. The respondent, Oscar de Leon Noblejas, did not appear and he was not represented by counsel. Noel D. Sengel, Assistant Bar Counsel, appeared as counsel for the Virginia State Bar. The proceedings were transcribed by Tracy Stroh of Chandler and Halasz, Post Office Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia, 23227, (804)730-1222.

The chair polled the panel to determine whether any member would be prevented from hearing the matter because of a conflict, actual or perceived. Each member, including the chair, responded in the negative.

The Bar introduced eight exhibits:

Exhibit #1, affidavit executed by Diana L. Balch, Director of Membership, dated September 17, 2001, stating the respondent, Oscar de Leon Noblejas, is an associate member of the Virginia State Bar not in good standing, that his license to practice law in Virginia was suspended on October 14, 1999, for failure to pay dues, and that his official address of record with the Virginia State Bar on June 13, 2001, was Noblejas and Associates, P.C., Post Office Box 10856, Burke, Virginia, 22009-0856; Exhibit #2, board certification dated June 13, 2001, notifying the respondent of the District Committee determination (certification), mailed by certified mail to respondent at his official address of record with the Virginia State Bar on June 13, 2001; Exhibit #3, three separate forms from Neurology Consultants, Inc., Leonard N. Green, M.D., J.D., entitled "Assignment and Authorization and Credit Agreement" dated May 9, 1996, executed May 28, 1996, by respondent's respective clients and executed June 3, 1996, by respondent; Exhibit #4, letter from respondent to Neurology Consultants dated April 15, 1997, confirming arrangement to give discounts for two of three clients; Exhibit #5, letter dated March 11, 1998, from respondent to Allstate Insurance Company enclosing executed release of all claims on behalf of Abel Encarguez and letter dated April 13, 1998, to Allstate Insurance Company enclosing executed release of all claims forms for Nina Encarguez and Alan Encarguez; Exhibit #6, letter dated April 4, 2000, from Neurology Consultants, Inc., Leonard N. Green, M.D., J.D., to respondent requesting payment on the accounts for the clients of respondent with statements attached; Exhibit #7, indictment from the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, criminal number 99-00165-A, alleging various criminal complaints against four defendants, including respondent; and Exhibit #8, affidavit dated November 6, 2001, from Pilar Cuesta, an employee of Allstate Insurance Company, stating that Allstate paid claims to Abel Encarguez, Alan Encarguez, and Nina Encarguez by checks dated October 21, 1997, to respondent on behalf of his clients, which checks were endorsed and deposited into respondent's account. The preceding exhibits were tendered to the Board prior to the testimonial portion of the hearing.

The Board heard testimony from Dean Edward Wanderer, Esquire, counsel for Neurology Consultants, Inc., Leonard N. Green, M.D., J.D. Mr. Wanderer testified that Dr. Green treated Nina Encarguez, Alan Encarguez and Abel Encarguez for injuries incurred in an automobile accident on or about May 9, 1996, and that all three patients were represented by respondent for personal injuries received in the automobile accident. Mr. Wanderer testified that each client represented by respondent executed the respective assignments and authorizations and credit agreements contained in Exhibit #3 and that the assignments were also executed by respondent. Mr. Wanderer testified that Dr. Green agreed to a discount for two of the three clients of respondent. Mr. Wanderer testified that the amount owed by each patient was set forth in Exhibit #6 and that Dr. Green never received payment on any of the three accounts and there was never a dispute as to the amount owed. The Board also heard testimony from James W. Henderson, investigator for the Virginia State Bar. Mr. Henderson testified that he had spoken to the Assistant U. S. Attorney charged with prosecuting the respondent on the indictment submitted as Exhibit #7. Mr. Henderson testified that the respondent is a fugitive from justice, who has not been caught or returned to the United States. Mr. Henderson testified that he had spoken to the FBI agent in charge of the investigation, Special Agent Weeder. It was believed that the respondent left the United States in October or November, 1998, and went to the Philippines. His US passport has been revoked.

No evidence was submitted by respondent or submitted on behalf of respondent.

After deliberation, the Board unanimously found the following as fact:

STATEMENT OF FACTS

1. At all times relevant hereto, respondent was an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. On October 15, 1999, the respondent was administratively suspended by the Bar for failure to pay his annual dues, and has remained administratively suspended to date.

2. In May of 1996, the Respondent was employed by three clients, Nina Encarguez, Alan Encarguez and Abel Encarguez, who had been in an automobile accident together on May 9, 1996, to represent them as plaintiffs regarding the accident. On May 26, 1996, the respondent and the Encarguezes co-executed Assignment and Authorization Agreements for the services provided the Encarguezes by Leonard N. Green, M.D. Dr. Green treated the Encarguezes for the injuries they suffered in the automobile accident of May 9, 1996. The defendant's insurance carrier was Allstate Insurance Company.

3. The respondent settled the three clients' claims with Allstate. On October 21, 1997, Allstate made the following payments to the Respondent: $15,500.00 for Abel Encarguez; $9,000.00 for Alan Encarguez; and $7,000.00 for Nina Encarguez. On March 11 and April 13, 1998, the Respondent sent the "Release of all Claims" forms executed by his client to Ms. Irene Clarke at Allstate Insurance Co. The respondent did not pay his client clients' bills for the medical services provided by Dr. Green, nor was Dr. Green paid for his services to the Encarguezes by anyone else.

4. On April 28, 1999, a federal grand jury indicted the respondent for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The respondent has been classified a fugitive from justice since the indictment, and is believed to be living in the Philippines, his country of birth.

5. On April 4, 2000, the complainant, unaware of the indictment against the respondent and the fact that the respondent is a fugitive, sent the respondent a letter demanding that the bill for the medical services he provided the Encarguezes be paid. The total bill came to $4,069.00,including interest. Dr. Green received no response from the respondent and filed a complaint with the Virginia State Bar on October 5, 2000.

From these findings the Board concludes by clear and convincing evidence that the following disciplinary rules of the Revised Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility have been violated:

DR 1-102. Misconduct.

(A) A lawyer shall not:



(3) Commit a crime or other deliberately wrongful act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's fitness to practice law.



(4) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation which reflects adversely on a lawyer's fitness to practice law.



DR 6-101. Competence and Promptness.



(B) A lawyer shall attend promptly to matters undertaken for a client until completed or until the lawyer has properly and completely withdrawn from representing the client.



DR 9-102. Preserving Identity of Funds and Property of a Client.



(B) A lawyer shall:



(4) Promptly pay or deliver to the client or another as requested by such person the funds, securities, or other properties in the possession of the lawyer which such person is entitled to receive.



Having found misconduct, the Board then heard evidence and argument relating to sanctions. The State Bar introduced the respondent's disciplinary record consisting of three prior private reprimands, all given at one time in 1995.

Following argument, the Board deliberated.

From the evidence and arguments, the Board unanimously determined that respondent be given a public reprimand with terms. The terms are that respondent pay to Neurology Consultants, Inc., Leonard N. Green, M.D., J.D., on or before February 1, 2002, all monies owed for medical services rendered to Nina Encarguez, Alan Encarguez, and Abel Encarguez in the amount of $4,069.00, together with compound interest at 1% monthly from January 1, 1998, until paid. It is further unanimously determined by the Board that should respondent fail to comply with this term, then the alternative sanctions will be that the license of the respondent, Oscar de Leon Noblejas, be revoked.

It is further ORDERED that the Clerk of the Disciplinary system send an attested and true copy of this opinion and order to the respondent, Oscar de Leon Noblejas, by certified mail, return receipt requested, at his current address of record at the Virginia State Bar at Noblejas and Associates, P.C., Post Office Box 10856, Burke, Virginia, 22009-0856, and to Noel D. Sengel, Senior Assistant Bar Counsel, Virginia State Bar, Suite 310, 100 North Pitt Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314-3133.

The clerk of the Disciplinary System shall assess costs pursuant to Part VI, Section IV, 13(K)(10) of the aforesaid Rules.

Entered this ____ day of December, 2001.

VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD





By______________________________________

Richard J. Colten, Acting Chairman