January 26, 2006
IN RE GENE P. BELARDI, RESPONDENT. A MEMBER OF THE BAR OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS (BAR REGISTRATION NO. 218446)
On Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility (BDN 25-01).
Before RUIZ and REID, Associate Judges, and NEBEKER, Senior Judge.
This original disciplinary matter involves a recommendation for a one-year suspension from the practice of law without a fitness requirement. The Board also recommends that a 2003 reciprocal disciplinary referral, based upon the revocation of respondent's Virginia license to practice law, be dismissed.
On November 20, 2000, respondent, Gene Belardi, entered a guilty plea in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to three counts of making false statements to a government agency.*fn1 Respondent reported his convictions to this court and he was suspended on an interim basis on March 8, 2001, pursuant to D.C. Bar R. XI, § 11 (d). The court also referred the matter to the Board on Professional Responsibility ("Board") and directed it to institute a formal proceeding to determine the final discipline to be imposed, and specifically to review the elements of the offense for the purpose of determining whether or not the crime involved moral turpitude within the meaning of D.C. Code § 11-2503 (a) (2001).
In its initial report and recommendation submitted on May 24, 2001, the Board concluded that the crimes did not constitute moral turpitude per se. Thereafter, the case was referred to Hearing Committee Number Five to determine whether the offense involved moral turpitude on the facts. The hearing committee concluded, in a report dated April 15, 2003, subsequently adopted by the Board, that the crimes did not involve moral turpitude. As a result, the Board recommended to the court in its report dated July 30, 2004, that respondent be suspended for one year, but it elected not to impose a fitness requirement as a condition to reinstatement. Although Bar Counsel initially filed exceptions, they have been withdrawn, and Bar Counsel presently takes no exception to the Board's Report and Recommendation.
Considering the heightened deference this court gives to the Board's recommendation in cases such as this where no exceptions are filed, see D.C. Bar R. XI, § 9 (g)(2); In re Delaney, 697 A.2d 1212, 1214 (D.C. 1997), we adopt the Board's recommendation. See In re Bowser, 771 A.2d 1002, 1003-04 (D.C. 2001) (imposing one year suspension without a fitness requirement for making false statements to the Immigration and Naturalization Service in connection with respondent's representation of a client applying to become a naturalized citizen); In re Cerroni, 683 A.2d 151, 52 (D.C. 1996) (imposing a one year suspension without a fitness requirement for making a false statement to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Administration in connection with a real estate transaction.); In re Cater, 03-BG-624, slip op. at 38 (D.C. November 23, 2005) (requiring "clear and convincing evidence that casts a serious doubt upon the attorney's continuing fitness to practice law" for imposition of a showing of fitness). Furthermore, upon the recommendation of the Board, respondent's reciprocal disciplinary referral is dismissed. See In re Perrin, 663 A.2d 517, 523 (D.C. 1995). Therefore, it is
ORDERED that Gene P. Belardi is suspended from the practice of law in the District of Columbia for the period of one year. For the purpose of reinstatement, respondent's suspension shall not begin until he complies with the affidavit requirements of D.C. Bar R. XI, § 14 (g).*fn2 It is
FURTHER ORDERED that the 2003 reciprocal disciplinary referral is dismissed.