A ticket-fixing scam that cost Louis P. Violanti his Lackawanna City Court judgeship last year has now cost him his livelihood for two years.
The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester has suspended Violanti, 40, from practicing law for two years.
While presiding in Lackawanna City Court on Jan. 11, 2013, Violanti instructed a Lackawanna police officer, John S. Hruby, to pretend to be Daniel Endress, an acquaintance of Violanti’s, and to ask for dismissal of a suspended-registration ticket.
The sham proceeding, recorded on audio tape, eventually was uncovered through separate state and county investigations.
Violanti was admitted to the bar in 2000, and he had served as associate judge in Lackawanna City Court for nearly six years. He resigned from the bench in March 2013 upon learning of the state investigation. Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski then appointed him as assistant city attorney. He was forced to quit that job after being criminally charged with official misconduct for the ticket-fixing scam.
He has worked in the private practice since then. But Violanti’s private legal work will now be put on hold until he’s able to apply for reinstatement in two years.
The five-judge Appellate Division in Rochester concluded in its ruling Friday that Violanti engaged in illegal conduct that “adversely reflects on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer” and was “prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
In determining the suspension, the court said it considered Violanti’s “longtime and substantial community involvement, as well as the fact that he derived no personal benefit from the misconduct.”
“We have further considered that, when he became aware of the investigation initiated by the Office of Court Administration, respondent resigned from his judicial position and advised all parties involved to cooperate fully in the investigation,” according to the ruling. “Finally, we have considered respondent’s expression of remorse to this Court, which we find to be sincere. Respondent, however, has committed serious misconduct.”
In 2011, the Rochester appeals court suspended former State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski from practicing law for six months. Makowski tried to help lawyer Anne E. Adams beat a 2008 drunken-driving case by submitting a false affidavit in her defense.
Makowski was forced to resign from the bench after he gave a false affidavit to Hamburg Town Court in an attempt to help Adams, who was charged with driving while intoxicated.