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R.I. Bar President Resigns, Faces Three Malpractice Suits

Posted Feb 27, 2009 11:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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When the president of the Rhode Island Bar Association abruptly resigned last week, a press release cited “personal and professional” matters that required “full-time attention.”

Today the Providence Journal has a story summarizing several pressing matters for Richard Pacia that stem from his real estate practice and investments.

Many problems stem from loans Pacia took to finance rehabbing and then reselling homes, a venture that apparently suffered after the collapse of the real estate market. Others concern real estate work that resulted in three malpractice suits against Pacia, the story says.

Pacia “is awash in debt,” the story says. “There are federal tax liens on his house in North Providence, and some of the investment properties he bought with borrowed money have been foreclosed on.”

Two legal actions concern allegations of unpaid loans, the newspaper says. One couple now in their late 70s claim Pacia never paid back more than $70,000 he borrowed to finance his real estate ventures, and they have placed a lien on Pacia’s residence. And a bank lawsuit seeks about $20,000 from Pacia for alleged defaults on a business line of credit.

One of the malpractice suits, filed last month against Pacia and a lawyer who shared office space with Pacia, accuses the two lawyers of malpractice in a refinancing of a home owned by Pacia, according to the story. The suit by a title insurance company claims that closing papers indicated a prior mortgage on the property had been paid in full, but in reality a check had bounced and there was a shortfall of almost $10,000.

Pacia did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment. Pacia’s co-defendant in the refinancing malpractice suit, Thomas A. Grasso, told the Providence Journal he handled the closing as “as the last step in the process” and relied on Pacia to make sure there was clear title on the property. “I don’t want to bag him,” he told the newspaper, but the refinance problems were not his fault.

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