District 31 Republican Assembly nominee Matthew Kopko says his Democratic counterpart, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, had his law license “suspended” twice and continued to practice law, though Chiaravalloti is calling Kopko a “desperate candidate.”
According to a court order issued by New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, Chiaravalloti, along with dozens of other lawyers, were “administratively ineligible to practice law” on October 27, 2014 for failing to comply with rules associated with the court’s mandatory Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. They were reinstated on May 4, 2015.
IOLTA’s official website explains that “a lawyer who receives funds that belong to a client must place those funds in a trust account separate from the lawyer’s own money.”
“Client funds are deposited in an IOLTA account when the funds cannot otherwise earn enough income for the client to be more the cost of securing that income.”
At a small press conference in front of Bayonne City Hall last week, Kopko, also an attorney, demanded to know if Chiaravalloti practiced law at high-powered Parsippany firm Weiner Lesniak, where he’s a partner, while he was “suspended.”
Kopko told Hudson County View the scenario appeared to be the status quo for Hudson County politics.
The Republican also questioned how ethical it was for Chiaravalloti to work at Weiner Lesniak while also employed as a consultant for Magis Strategies, LLC.
However, a source with knowledge of the company told Hudson County View that Magis Strategies “no longer exists” and was fully dissolved in the first quarter of 2015.
When Chiravalloti was asked by Hudson County View if he ever practiced law with a suspended license, he dismissed Kopko as a “desperate candidate.”
“We’re in the final 3 weeks of an election campaign, desperate candidates are going to say what they need to say.”
“I’m going door to door, speaking with residents about improving public safety and education – specifically closing the achievement gap in Jersey City and Bayonne,” he said adding that he is also committed to finding a solution regarding pension fund reform.
The managing partners of Weiner Lesniak, Paul Weiner and state Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20) – a likely 2017 Democratic gubernatorial candidate – did not return calls to their law office or an email addressed to both of them yesterday.