Feb. 26--PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The state Supreme Court has suspended estate planner Joseph A. Caramadre's license to practice law following his sentencing to six years in prison for his role in an investment scheme that exploited terminally ill people.
The suspension will remain in effect pending his appeal of his conviction on conspiracy and wire fraud charges to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In addition, the court suspended lawyer Humberta M. Goncalves-Babbitt's law license after she acknowledged spending an elderly client's money for her own use.
Caramadre and his employee Raymour Radhakrishnan pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy four days into trial. Prosecutors portrayed Caramadre as the mastermind of an investment strategy in which he and Radhakrishnan persuaded ill people, some on their deathbeds, into unwittingly signing documents. Those documents were then used to purchase investments on behalf of Caramadre's clients. Caramadre's investors profited upon the person's death.
U.S. District Chief Judge William E. Smith in December sentenced Caramadre, a one-time philanthropist and political donor, to six years in prison. Radhakrishnan received a sentence of a year and a day.
Smith has ordered that Caramadre and Radhakrishnan pay more than $46 million to insurance companies and bond issuers defrauded under the scheme.
Caramadre is appealing his conviction to the 1st Circuit. Among the things he is challenging is Smith's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas.
He has asked, through his lawyer Randy Olen, that any disciplinary action against his license to practice law in U.S. District Court be placed on hold pending his appeal.
The state Supreme Court moved to suspend Goncalves-Babbitt's license to practice after receiving a complaint from the Alliance For Better Long Term Care Inc., alleging that Goncalves-Babbitt had failed to pay Antone M. Silva's bills or apply for Medicaid benefits on his behalf, leaving him facing eviction from Crestwood Nursing Home. The alliance also alleged that a substantial portion of the proceeds from the sale of his Swansea, Mass., residence were missing.
An investigation disclosed that Goncalves-Babbitt had been granted powers of attorney, including control of Silva's financial affairs. Silva received $148,000 from the $155,000 sale of his house. In addition, weekly pension checks of $132 and $1,338 from Social Security were deposited into his accounts. All payments amounted to about $174,000.
Chief Disciplinary Counsel David D. Martin found that Goncalves-Babbitt wrote multiple checks payable to herself and her firm totaling about $72,485, with another $45,399 remaining unaccounted for.
Silva's unpaid bill to Crestwood is about $38,261 after being paid down $50,000 by a newly appointed lawyer.
Since the start of the investigation, Goncalves-Babbitt, who was admitted to the Rhode Island bar in 1999, paid a partial restitution of $71,000, according to Curtin.
The high court accepted Curtin's recommendation that her license immediately be suspended to protect the public from further harm. The court ordered that Curtin be appointed special master and gave him the authority to take possession of all her client files and accounts, to inventory them, and to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the clients' interests.
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