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Takes Nerve to Be a Gambler; Takes

Bigger Nerve to Blame Your SUBSCRIBE

Gambling on Others


Matter of Arelia M. Taveras

Second Department
Admitted to N.Y.S. Bar: 2002

Discipline imposed: Disbarred (on default) in June 23,

There is a wonderful word in the Yiddish language that
many of you may know: chutzpah. Simply put, chutzpah Takes Nerve to Be a
Gambler; Takes
translates into "colossal nerve." A classic example of
Bigger Nerve to Blame
chutzpah – in a legal context – is that of a man who Your Gambling on
murders his parents and then begs the judge for mercy Others
because he is an orphan. The disbarment case I wish to Gas-Hauling Truck
discuss has taken a recent turn from fabulous greed and Flips and Bursts into
larceny resulting in the disbarment of attorney Taveras,
No Way to Take the
into Chutzpahville, truly a strange place to visit. Train; Car Crashes
into Metal Support
According to newspaper reports, Taveras had a fairly Post
lucrative and successful law practice representing the Real Estate Attorney
families of airplane accident victims. Her short legal career Disbarred; He Fee-
was highlighted by appearances as a T.V. commentator Split with Non-
Lawyers in Personal
and by being named one of the "21 New Yorkers to Watch Injury Cases
in the 21st Century" by the New York Daily News in the Off-Duty Cop Blasted
year 2000. by Garbage Truck
When Is a Police
Her fall from grace starts (sort of) on February 20, 2007, Chase Not a Police
with Ms. Taveras’ suspension from the practice of law by Chase? People Die in
Belt Parkway Crash.
the Appellate Division, Second Department. This was a
rather unusual early or immediate suspension, intended to Haitian Brooklynite
Does Not Survive
protect the public. The Court found that Taveras, "[w]as American Airlines
guilty of professional misconduct immediately threatening Flight
the public interest based upon uncontroverted evidence of Stoned and Drunk?
professional misconduct." The Court also appointed a Just Drunk? Or
Special Referee (a retired judge) to look over Taveras’ files
Car Slides off Top of
and take action to protect her clients.
Long Island Parking
Garage, Wife Killed,
Taveras did not fight the five charges made against her by Husband Escapes
the lawyers’ Grievance Committee, which were: Tax Lawyer Disbarred;
the Details are Juicy,
the Details are Juicy,
*engaging in a pattern and practice of converting escrow Indeed
funds entrusted to her as a fiduciary (in other words, It Was No Accident;
stealing), Truck Driver Charged
with Crime
*knowingly providing altered and falsified records of her Truck Jumps Curb,
attorney escrow account to the Grievance Committee, Strikes Three
Pedestrians on
*improperly commingling personal and fiduciary funds Sidewalk
(mixing clients’ money with her personal money), Auto Insurance Fraud
Doctors Sentenced
*improperly drawing an escrow check to cash, Scammers Act under
Cover of Tax Refund
*failing to maintain required records for her IOLA (escrow) The Croc Bites (a
account. products liability
lawsuit follows)
She was found in default and deemed to have admitted Lawyer Suspended for
the truth of the charges against her. Then she was Violating Client
disbarred. Confidentiality
Tax Lawyer Spanked
This story is not nearly over. We now turn to a press for Not Filing Tax
release from the Queens County District Attorney, issued
on November 28, 2007, which has the following heading: Car Jumps Curb and
Breaks Man's Bones;
No Accident
N.Y. Appeals Court
Recognizes Gay
Former Legislator
District Attorney Brown said, "According to the charges, Continues Fall From
the defendants not only violated the trust that their clients Grace
placed in them but they let down the entire legal system Faking His Way to the
which counts on members of the bar to conduct
themselves in an ethical matter. Each of the attorneys has Construction Worker
Killed When Scaffold
been disbarred, and each now faces serious criminal Blown Over
charges." Wobbly Facts Get Jell-
O Case Dismissed
District Attorney Brown identified the defendants as Arelia
Lawmakers Call On
Taveras, 46, presently of Bloomington, Minnesota, and Con Ed To Expedite
Mark Jacobs, 58, of Glen Head, New York. Pipe Replacement
Taveras, accused of stealing a total of $99,142 from four Drunk-Driving Wall
clients, was charged with three counts of third-degree Street Mogul Mows
Down 9/11 Survivor
grand larceny, second-degree forgery, first-degree offering
SUV Flies over
a false instrument for filing and scheme to defraud. Jacobs Guardrail in Bronx;
was charged with second-degree grand larceny for Driver Dead
allegedly stealing $91,564 from a client. If convicted, Richmond Hill Fire
Taveras faced up to seven years in prison. Injures Three
Stolen Car Collides
I’m sure you may not care how Taveras ended up in With City Medical
Minnesota. But I’m wondering. Examiner Van
Queens boy killed
District Attorney Brown also said that, according to a driving forklift
criminal complaint, Taveras accepted $2,500 from a buyer Three Killed In
as a contract deposit and an additional $22,500 as a down Brooklyn Apartment
payment on a cooperative apartment in Bayside that the
Fire Truck Slams into
defendant was selling. It is alleged further that the buyer’s
Post Office 18-
application was subsequently denied by the cooperative Wheeler
board, but when she tried to get her deposit back Taveras Stuyvesant H.S. Van
allegedly refused. After numerous requests, according to Flips Over in Vermont
the criminal complaint, the buyer received a call from One Worker Killed,
Taveras’ lawyer stating that she would not repay the Others Injured, in
Trump SoHo Tower
money and that she was in a rehabilitation center in Accident
Colorado. Pedestrian Loses Legs
in Chinatown Bus
In addition, according to the criminal complaint, Taveras is Accident
accused of ripping off three clients including one who Driver of Car That
retained her in connection with a real estate transaction. Plunged Off Pier in L.I.
The complaint charges that Taveras failed to release Accident Dies

$10,000 of the client’s money that was held in escrow.

Another client was allegedly bilked of $30,000 after CATEGORIES
retaining the defendant to represent her in the sale of
commercial real estate. And finally, Taveras is accused of In The News

stealing $34,142 from a third client who allegedly retained Personal Injury Update
her to represent him in connection with a divorce Stupid Lawyer Tricks
The criminal charges against Taveras are unresolved and
still pending.
still pending. March 2008

Now this story gets more interesting. Taveras had sent a February 2008

videotape to the lawyers’ Grievance Committee saying that January 2008

she took client money because of a gambling addiction and December 2007
that she was remorseful. November 2007

Today the papers are reporting that Taveras has filed a

$20,000,000 Federal lawsuit in United States District Court
in New Jersey against seven casinos, claiming that they
were responsible for her compulsively gambling way
$1,000,000 and that they should have stopped her. (This
is the chutzpah part.)

Taveras says her gambling problem was so over-the-top

that she once spent five straight days at Resorts Casino’s
tables in Atlantic City eating only chocolate candy bars and
drinking orange juice. She claims that she would go for
days and nights without food or sleep.

While she gambled in Las Vegas as well as Atlantic City,

Taveras claims to have suffered the most damage at
Resorts in Atlantic City, supposedly losing $850,000 there
in two years.

According to her complaint, Taveras even played seven

blackjack hands at one time so she could have an entire
table to herself, while losing some $5,000 per hour.

Commentary: Compulsive gamblers suing casinos rarely

win, because the casinos claim not to know who needs
help and who doesn’t. Gamblers can voluntarily bar
themselves from casinos, either for a few years or for life.
While they are on the list, casinos cannot solicit them.
Taveras, of course, never did this.

The short of it is, that courts are reluctant to find that a

casino has a duty to protect a gambler from herself.

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg (personal

injury and accident attorney and lawyer; serving Brooklyn
Queens Bronx)

Posted by Gary E. Rosenberg on March 9, 2008 3:08 PM |



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