Luigi Rosabianca, a prominent real estate attorney who specializes in representing ultra-high-net-worth foreign buyers, has been suspended from practicing law after a Manhattan court found there was evidence to suggest he mishandled client funds and that he refused to cooperate with an investigation.
The decision to suspend Rosabianca, reached by the Appellate Division First Department on March 12, came after four separate clients complained to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, which handles attorney misconduct, and Rosabianca failed to respond to any of the allegations.
Most recently, in March 2014, a client claimed that Rosabianca represented him in the sale of his apartment, but Rosabianca failed to promptly remit the sale proceeds and refused to provide accounting records for the disbursement.
The year before, a mortgage company claimed that Rosabianca took out a $1.76 million mortgage while acting as his own attorney, title closer, and agent, but failed to record the mortgage and secretly obtained a separate $500,000 mortgage, forcing them into a subordinate mortgagee position.
In 2011, two complaints against Rosabianca claimed that clients had trouble getting escrow funds back from him. In one case, a client’s $25,000 check bounced due to insufficient funds. In another, Rosabianca took longer than promised to return $8,350. According to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, the investigation that this complaint spurred revealed that Rosabianca had intentionally converted and misappropriated the client’s funds on multiple occasions.
Rosabianca, founder of law firm Rosabianca & Associates, was featured in a New York Magazine article last summer about foreign buyers of Manhattan real estate. “Sometimes they come in with wires,” Rosabianca told New York of his foreign clients. “Sometimes they come in with suitcases.”
The New York article, published June 29, 2014, describes him as the founder of WIRE International Realty, a brokerage that caters to foreign buyers. On Tuesday, however, Rosabianca told The Real Deal that he is no longer affiliated with WIRE, and has no management or ownership of the firm, though they formerly shared office space. He declined to comment on the court’s decision to suspend him from practicing law.
In an April 2014 press release from WIRE, Rosabianca is identified as a principal and broker of record for the firm, and is quoted as saying, “Over the past few years, WIRE International Realty has experienced great transactional success in the U.S. with Americans and foreign nationals alike.”
A cached version of his LinkedIn page also identifies him as the founder and principal of the firm. Rosabianca said that he and the firm have since parted ways.
Neither Rosabianca & Associates nor WIRE International Realty are specifically mentioned in the Appellate Division’s decision, which focuses on Rosabianca as an individual attorney.
Representatives from the Departmental Disciplinary Committee were not immediately available to comment. Rosabianca is suspended until the committee’s disciplinary proceedings are concluded, at which point it could potentially recommend to the court that he be disbarred.