Two Personal Injury Lawyers Plead Guilty

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced today that two personal injury lawyers have pleaded guilty to failing to pay personal income taxes on cash they received from a suspended personal injury lawyer who was later convicted of stealing money from multiple clients.

The defendants, DAVID RESNICK, 44, and SERGE BINDER, 39, pleaded guilty today in State Supreme Court. They admitted to accepting cash in exchange for their agreement to allow Richard Boter, the other personal injury lawyer, to continue his practice of law, despite his suspension, using the name of their Coney Island law firm, Resnick & Binder, P.C. As part of their pleas, RESNICK and BINDER will be disbarred by operation of law, forfeit the cash they received, each will pay a $5,000 fine, and they will be sentenced to five years probation.

The guilty pleas stemmed from an earlier investigation into Richard Boter. Boter operated a high volume solo law practice specializing in personal injury and no-fault insurance cases. Boter obtained his cases illegally by paying runners and the owners of medical clinics. In 2005, Boter came under investigation by the First Department Departmental Disciplinary Committee for a variety of misconduct, including his June 2005 guilty plea in Nassau County related to his purchase of numerous personal injury cases from a runner, irregularities in his attorney trust account and other matters.

In the fall of 2005, Boter believed that he was about to be suspended from the practice of law by the Appellate Division of the First Department. Desiring to continue his practice despite any suspension that the First Department might impose, Boter met with RESNICK and BINDER in a café in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, where the three men agreed that RESNICK and BINDER would allow Boter to open a law firm in lower Manhattan using the name of their Brooklyn based law firm, Resnick & Binder, P.C. RESNICK and BINDER agreed to pay Boter his full share of any legal fees that he earned from his cases. In exchange, Boter agreed to pay RESNICK and BINDER $8,600 a month in cash and to allow RESNICK and BINDER to cherry pick the best of his cases.

Beginning in January 2006, Boter practiced law at an office he opened at 139 Fulton Street in Manhattan using the name of Resnick & Binder, P.C. Boter continued to service his existing clients and he procured new clients. On February 14, 2006, the Appellate Division, First Department suspended Boter from the practice of law. In approximately February 2007, Boter moved his practice to the Coney Island office of Resnick & Binder, P.C. From May 2006 to August 2007, Boter made monthly payments of $8,600 to RESNICK and BINDER. In accordance with their illegal agreement with Boter, when RESNICK and BINDER received insurance settlements on the cases Boter handled, they deposited the money into their law firm’s bank account. RESNICK and BINDER paid the clients their share of the settlement and then passed Boter’s legal fees to him by making payments for ostensible management fees to a shell corporation that Boter had established for that purpose.

In pleading guilty, each defendant stated in court that “I knowingly filed false New York State personal income tax returns with the intent to evade New York State and New York City personal income taxes. Specifically, in tax year 2006, I knowingly failed to report my one-half share of the approximately $68,800 in cash payments that I received from Richard Boter in 2006, and I did that with the intent to evade my New York State and New York City income tax liability.”

The defendants pleaded guilty to one count of a violation of Tax Law Section 1804(b), titled “False Returns or Reports; Personal Income and Earnings Taxes,” which is a class E felony, before State Supreme Court Judge Arlene Goldberg. Upon their guilty plea to a felony, they were disbarred by operation of law.

On September 25, 2007, Boter was disbarred. On October 30, 2007, he pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court to one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree for stealing over $148,000 from his clients and others. On May 26, 2009, Judge Laura Ward sentenced Boter to six months in jail and five years probation. Boter made full restitution to all of his victims.

This action is the most recent case resulting from the District Attorney’s continuing investigation into personal injury lawyers, runners, and employees at public and private hospitals in New York City. Today’s guilty pleas are the 13th and 14th convictions of lawyers resulting from that investigation. Including the money which RESNICK and BINDER will provide as a result of their guilty pleas, the District Attorney's Office has obtained $1,856,444 in fines, forfeiture and restitution from the 14 lawyers.

Assistant District Attorney Daniel G. Cort, who is the Deputy Bureau Chief of Rackets Bureau, handled the investigation and prosecution under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Eric Seidel, the Rackets Bureau Chief. District Attorney Investigator Shannon Rowe and former Investigator Winter Salembier assisted in the investigation under the supervision of Investigation Bureau Chief Joseph Pennisi. Senior Financial Investigator Evelyn Serrano and Senior Account Investigator Robert Stahl also assisted in the investigation.

Defendant Information:

2679 E. 24th Street
Brooklyn, New York

SERGE BINDER, 6/25/1970
39 Woodcutters Lane
Staten Island, New York