Indy attorney disbarred after ‘abandoning’ his practice

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An Indianapolis attorney has been disbarred for his lengthy history of misconduct, which included charging and collecting unreasonable fees, engaging in deceitful behavior and ultimately abandoning his immigration law practice.

Marco Antonio Genesis Moreno had been suspended multiple times before his disbarment Tuesday in In the Matter of Marco Antonio Genesis Moreno, 22S-DI-413.

According to the per curiam opinion issued by the high court, over the course of a year starting in August 2021, Moreno effectively abandoned his immigration law practice in Marion County.

Eleven clients and one attorney filed grievances against him for similar misconduct including:

  • Failing to be competent and diligent in his representation.
  • Failing to communicate.
  • Charging unreasonable fees.
  • Failing to properly end his representation upon termination.
  • Engaging in deceitful behavior.

“Respondent’s neglect had adverse consequences for several clients and required the clients to hire successor counsel to remediate the harms Respondent caused. Respondent additionally failed to respond to the Commission’s demands for information concerning the grievances, prompting the initiation of numerous show cause proceedings and, eventually, an indefinite suspension for serial noncooperation that remains in effect,” the opinion stated.

The high court summarized some of the more egregious counts of misconduct, which were taken from a disciplinary complaint comprising 34 pages and 225 rhetorical paragraphs.

In one example, “Client 1,” a Korean national married to “Husband,” retained Moreno to prepare a permanent residency application for her, paid the attorney $5,410 and provided Moreno with all the necessary documentation.

The client attempted to contact Moreno numerous times by phone and email, but without success.

During that time, Moreno changed the domain name of his email address without informing the client.

After she was unable to contact Moreno, the client contacted the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office directly and learned that none of the documentation she had provided to Moreno had been submitted.

The client retained successor counsel and filed a grievance with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

Shortly after, USCIS notified the client that it had received an application submitted on her behalf, even though her successor counsel had not yet prepared or submitted anything. The agency later sent the client a request for evidence referencing her husband’s signature on a form that the husband was not eligible to submit. The husband had neither signed nor submitted the form.

The successor counsel’s numerous attempts to contact Moreno about the request for evidence and to obtain a copy of the client’s file were unsuccessful.

Moreno also failed to comply with the commission’s subpoena duces tecum for the client’s file and, in response to a separate grievance filed by the successor counsel, failed to address the authenticity of the husband’s signature.

Another client paid Moreno $5,000 to prepare U-visas — residency visas for victims of violent crime and human trafficking — for his family, as well as some temporary work visas.

That client’s last contact with Moreno occurred in December 2021, when Moreno falsely told him that his pending matters were progressing as expected with USCIS.

Moreno did not prepare any work product for the client’s family, and the client never received a receipt number from USCIS for any pending immigration matters concerning his family.

The client was unable to contact Moreno at any point after December 2021, and Moreno failed to respond to the commission’s investigation of the client’s grievance.

In December 2022, the Disciplinary Commission filed its 11-count complaint against Moreno.

After Moreno failed to timely file an answer, the commission filed a motion for judgment on the complaint, which the hearing officer granted following a hearing.

The high court concurred in the hearing officer’s findings of fact and concluded that Moreno violated the following Indiana Professional Conduct Rules prohibiting the following misconduct:

  • 1.1: Failing to provide competent representation.
  • 1.3: Failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness.
  • 1.4: Failing to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and respond promptly to reasonable requests for information.
  • 1.5(a): Making an agreement for, charging or collecting an unreasonable fee.
  • 1.16(d): Failing to protect a client’s interests upon termination of representation.
  • 8.1(b): Failing to timely respond to the commission’s demands for information.
  • 8.4(c): Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
  • 8.4(d): Engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

“Respondent already is under suspension orders for serial noncooperation and failure to fulfill his continuing legal education requirements,” the justices wrote. “For Respondent’s professional misconduct, the Court disbars Respondent from the practice of law in this state effective immediately.”

With his disbarment, Moreno is ordered fulfill all the duties of a disbarred attorney under Admission and Discipline Rule 23(26), and the costs of the proceeding will be assessed against him.

All justices concurred in the opinion.

According to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys, Moreno was admitted to the Indiana bar in October 2003. The Roll of Attorneys lists 12 completed disciplinary actions against him.

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