Bankruptcy Attorney Suspended for Overcharging Clients

Written By: Emil FleysherMarch 4, 2015

The biggest bankruptcy attorney in Pennsylvania is now under accusations of overcharging hundreds of his clients. And, misspending thousands of dollars. One victim, Sharon Kaluzny, had to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy after a tough divorce. Moreover, caring for sick parents forced her to close down her hair salon in 2006. Ms. Kaluzny paid Mr. Mazzei $1,000 upfront when they met at his Tarentum office in Pennsylvania. The bankruptcy court later did an investigation where Mr. Mazzei failed to fully disclose all of his fees to the court as required by law.

Second Bankruptcy

In 2011, when Kaluzny thought she almost paid off all of her debts she finds out that this was not the case. Kaluzny blames the miscalculation on Mr. Mazzei, which he denied. And then he forces her to do a second bankruptcy; she’d have to pay thousands of dollars more in legal fees that ultimately caused her to have her truck repossessed. The bankruptcy court conducted the investigation and found that Sharon Kaluzny paid the fees that were "in excess of the amounts stated in both cases."

During the second bankruptcy, Kaluzny was forced to give up a rental property. The tenant, however, was still paying Mazzie $900 in rent which was kept in the firm's account. The bankruptcy court carried out the investigation. According to them, the definition of this act is the “comingling of funds”. A law professor from the University of Pittsburgh who is an expert on legal ethics stated that one of the most serious offenses for a lawyer is the comingling of funds.

Other Victims of Bankruptcy Attorney

Ms. Kaluzny was not the only victim that Mr. Mazzei took advantage of. The bankruptcy court's chief judge cited 260 cases where Mazzei charged "fees totaling over $260,000 yet he failed to perform the services he represented to clients he would perform”. His charges also included “wrongfully retaining money”, “abusing the system”, and “filing false statements”. The state's Supreme Court disciplinary board also did their own separate investigation. In fact, they found Mazzei mishandled thousands of dollars he received from clients. Moreover, he embezzled thousands from a credit counseling service in retainer fees.

Mazzei received a 3-year suspension of his law license.

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