Criminal Justice

Disbarred lawyer pleads guilty after accepting money from a prospective client

Former Parsippany, N.J., township planning board lawyer John J. Montefusco was disbarred in 2009 for taking bribes from a local builder.

But that didn’t stop him from accepting money from a prospective client facing criminal charges earlier this year as a retainer for legal services, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.

Montefusco, 72, pleaded guilty Monday in Morris County court to the unlawful practice of law. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 4. Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence of probation after a 6-month stint in the county jail.

After the hearing, Montefusco’s lawyer, Frank Arleo, said his client, who is caring for an ailing wife, wanted to put the matter behind him.

“At the time, I think he thought it’s probably OK, but when he went back and thought about what he did, I think he recognized that you can’t cross a certain line, and that was really it,” Arleo told the Star-Ledger.

Montefusco, who spent five years as the Parsippany-Troy Hills township planning board attorney, pleaded guilty in 2008 to a federal mail fraud charge for providing favorable treatment to a prominent local builder in exchange for receiving illegal discounts on new homes he and his relatives bought that were quickly resold at a substantial profit.

He was disbarred with his consent in 2009, but was only sentenced on that charge in June to one day in prison followed by two years of supervised release.

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