Attorney Morton “Mordy” Avigdor, the politically connected Orthodox Jewish frontrunner candidate for the Fifth Municipal Judicial Civil Court seat, could face sanctions and possible disbarment for failing to make full and accurate disclosures on his Ethics Commission Financial Disclosure form filed as part of his application to run for the bench seat, according to court documents filed this week.
The litigation has roots in a 2004 Surrogate Court Case, in which Avigdor was named co executor and trustee of the late Elias Gelbwachs’ estate.
According to court papers, Avigdor took money from the estate and bought property at 7104 Ft. Hamilton Parkway and 884 71st Street in Brooklyn. Ultimately, the court ordered Avigdor to liquidate the properties and pay the estate $750,000. However, Avigdor allegedly took some of the estate money and bought other properties with it.
After paying back only a fraction of the money and still owing $500,000 to the estate, the court suspended Avigdor as executor and trustee of the estate on July 30, 2010.
Then, in 2014, Avigdor filed suit against Dr. Paul Rosenstock, alleging he was owed current and future money as part owner of Rosenstock’s medical company, Doctors On Call (DOC), after investing $35,000 in 2005. Additionally, court documents indicate that Rosenstock ran his business for some time out of the Ft. Hamilton property that Avigdor bought with Gelbwach’s Estate money.
But Rosenstock’s attorney, Israel Goldberg, filed a summary motion on Monday to dismiss the case on the grounds that if Avigdor is part owner in the business as he alleges, then he would have listed it as a business asset in his financial disclosure report submitted to the Ethics Commission of the State Unified Court System as part of the application process to run for judge.
“Indeed, if Avigdor did hold a position or an investment interest in DOC or a beneficial interest in any of the Defendants named in this action but he failed to report it on the Financial Disclosure form, he would be subject to disbarment,” wrote Goldberg in the summary motion.
In the motion, Goldberg also cited a case where a former Justice of the Supreme Court who intentionally withheld information about a loan on his mandatory financial disclosure statement was disbarred because case law indicates an individual required to file financial disclosure is required to file accurate, truthful disclosure. Further, one ‘who knowingly and willfully with intent to deceive makes a false statement or gives information which such individual knows to be false … shall be subject to disciplinary action.’”
The motion was calendared in to be heard before Judge Sylvia Ash for mid-September, after the Sept. 13 judicial primary.
Both Avigdor and Goldberg refused comment on pending litigation.
The litigation comes as Avigdor, who has worked with former Congressman Anthony Weiner and current Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, as well with several large local nonprofit organizations, is locked in a three-way race for the bench seat.
His chief rival in the race is Attorney Rachel “Ruchie” Freier, also a devout Orthodox Jew, who has garnered respect and controversy in the tight-knit Boro Park community for both helping at-risk Orthodox Jewish boys and creating the all-women volunteer Ezras Nashim ambulance company.
Rounding up the judicial judge race is attorney and secular Jew, Jill Epstein, but the bench seat has traditionally gone to whomever carries Borough Park, likely a religious Jew. However, should Avigdor and Freier split the religious vote, Epstein could squeak through.
The judicial district also includes Sunset Park, South Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Green-Wood and several neighborhoods to the south.