Argued: November 27, 2018
Elizabeth M. Murphy, assistant disciplinary counsel, on the
brief and orally, for the attorney discipline office.
& Hatfield, LLP, of Portsmouth (Russell F. Hilliard on
the brief and orally), for the respondent.
5, 2018, the Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee
(PCC) filed a petition recommending that the respondent,
Craig N. Salomon, be disbarred. We order the respondent
found the following facts. The Attorney Discipline Office
(ADO) received two unrelated complaints regarding the
respondent. The first complaint (hereinafter, the Haase
matter) led to an investigation of the respondent's
representation of Deborah Fogg during and after her divorce
from George Fogg. The divorce was finalized in 2009 and the
final divorce agreement included, inter alia, the
following: (1) Ms. Fogg would obtain possession of the
marital property in Seabrook (the Fogg property); (2) she
agreed that she owed Mr. Fogg $22, 350; (3) she would convey
a first mortgage to Mr. Fogg for that amount; and (4) the
$22, 350 was payable within eighteen months. Ms. Fogg planned
to sell the property and use the proceeds to pay Mr. Fogg. At
the time the divorce was finalized, Ms. Fogg also owed the
respondent $12, 000 in attorney's fees and granted the
respondent a second mortgage on the Fogg property in the
amount of $12, 000 to guarantee the payment. Both of these
mortgages were recorded.
the divorce, the respondent continued to provide assistance
to Ms. Fogg by helping her to find a buyer or a developer to
purchase the Fogg property. The respondent never billed Ms.
Fogg for his efforts relating to the Fogg property, nor is
there evidence that the respondent asked Ms. Fogg to execute
a fee agreement for his services in this regard. The
respondent testified that he had intended to put a future
advances clause in the $12, 000 mortgage instrument as
security for future legal fees, but had forgotten to do so.
the divorce was finalized, the respondent contacted a friend
and client, Dale Wood, to advise him of the settlement. The
respondent persuaded Wood's company, Pan American Fund,
LLC, to accept an assignment of the second mortgage in
exchange for a payment from Pan American Fund to the
respondent. The respondent used information obtained through
his representation of Ms. Fogg, including appraisals and
other non-public information the respondent obtained during
his representation, to negotiate the assignment of the second
mortgage and, thus, to obtain his attorney's fees prior
to the sale of the Fogg property.
thereafter, the respondent sought a $22, 350 advance from Pan
American Fund. He testified that he planned to use the money
to purchase the mortgage issued to Mr. Fogg. He then planned
to have Ms. Fogg execute a mortgage to the respondent in the
amount of $22, 350, and he intended to assign that second
mortgage to Pan American Fund, so that Pan American Fund
could be in the first position to foreclose on the property
if Ms. Fogg was unable to sell it or otherwise failed to
fulfill her obligations.
respondent's file included a proposed assignment of the
$22, 350 mortgage from Ms. Fogg to the respondent. The third
page of the document contained a signature that appeared to
be Ms. Fogg's, but was never dated, witnessed, or
recorded and Ms. Fogg testified that she did not recall
signing the document nor did she recall being apprised of the
respondent's plan to buy out her ex-husband's
American Fund advanced the respondent the full $22, 350 to
buy out the mortgage even though the respondent testified
that it was never his intention to offer the full-face amount
of the mortgage to Mr. Fogg. When asked what the parties
intended with respect to any money earned by a discounted
buy-out of Mr. Fogg, the respondent testified that he did not
know. The respondent then offered to buy out Mr. Fogg for
less than the full value of the mortgage. Mr. Fogg declined
to accept the offer.
the respondent negotiated with Wood to turn the $22, 350 into
a personal loan, creating an obligation in that amount plus
interest to Pan American Fund. The record reflects that when
the respondent signed the promissory note, he identified the
Fogg property as security for the loan of $22, 350.
Pan American Fund assigned to Irving Haase/Heirs, LLC both
the $12, 000 mortgage and the respondent's $22, 350 loan.
Haase believed that those amounts were secured by mortgages
filed against the Fogg property. In 2013, Haase contacted the
respondent to have him initiate the process of collecting on
the notes, which were past due. Unbeknownst to Haase or the
respondent, Ms. Fogg had quitclaimed the deed to her property
to Mr. Fogg to satisfy her debt to him.
respondent represented Haase/Heirs, LLC in foreclosure
proceedings against the Fogg property which was now owned by
Mr. Fogg. In November 2013, the respondent sent a letter to
Mr. Fogg demanding payment of principal and interest in the
amount of $47, 891.13. Mr. Fogg notified the respondent that
he contested the amount and requested documentation
supporting the demand. The respondent did not provide
documentation. Formal foreclosure proceedings were initiated
in December 2013.
Fogg retained an attorney who communicated with the
respondent. A settlement agreement was ultimately reached
that recognized that the only mortgage eligible for
foreclosure was the second mortgage for $12, 000 that the
respondent had assigned to Pan American Fund.
second unrelated complaint against the respondent was
received by the ADO in October 2014 from an attorney at a law
firm in Florida who filed on behalf of HPC U.S. Fund 1, L.P.
and HPC U.S. Fund 2, L.P. and its authorized representative,
Mr. Brinke. This matter involves the respondent's
representation of Blackport Investment Group, LLC, which was
created and retained by HPC U.S. Fund 1, L.P. and HPC U.S.
Fund 2, L.P. The HPC entities are holding companies of
German-based investment vehicles that hold real estate
interests throughout the United States. Blackport managed
these interests for HPC.
was Blackport's asset manager representative. The
respondent previously represented Wood individually and has
represented companies, including Blackport, of which Wood was
an owner, member, or manager. Wood and the respondent had a
lengthy personal and professional relationship.
initiated proceedings in the United States District Court for
the Southern District of Florida concerning Wood's
mismanagement of HPC's funds, and alleged that Wood had
misappropriated approximately $10, 000, 000. The federal
court issued a temporary restraining order followed by a
preliminary injunction, entered on September 4, 2013, against
a number of defendants, including Wood. The preliminary
injunction prohibited Wood or "any and all persons
acting under Defendant's direction or control" from
taking any action with respect to any property interests held
by HPC. The prohibition included transferring or secreting
any property interests or liquid assets they held as a result
of the transfer, sale, or conveyance of HPC's property
this time frame, the respondent began to represent Blackport
in the sale of property in Idaho, which was largely owned by
HPC. The respondent contacted North Idaho Title, the company
that was handling the purchase and sale of the Idaho
property, and conducted some preliminary work on behalf of
Blackport. Wood was one of the respondent's contacts for
Blackport. However, as the parties moved towards a possible
closing date, Wood informed the respondent via e-mail about
the injunction issued by the federal court, which prohibited
Wood from having any involvement in the conveyance of any
property interests of HPC. In fact, Wood explicitly informed
the respondent that, because of the injunction, Wood was not
authorized to sign on behalf of Blackport for the sale of the
the closing was dependent on determining who was authorized
to sign on behalf of the seller. Despite his knowledge of the
injunction, the respondent informed North Idaho Title that
Wood could sign on behalf of Blackport, and the transaction
closed in November 2013. The respondent testified that he
advised North Idaho Title that Wood had authority because
Wood had told him that Wood's ...