Famed Garden City attorney Dominic Barbara has handled a plethora of high-profile cases during his long career, but he did not properly bill a client or manage his staff, according to a state appeals court that has suspended him for 18 months.
The flamboyant divorce lawyer will have to temporarily give up his profession starting next month after the decision issued Tuesday by the Appellate Division. The court accepted a special referee's determination that Barbara, 64, was guilty of four counts of professional misconduct.
The earliest Barbara can file for reinstatement is March 2012. He could not be reached for comment Friday.
The appeals court said Barbara failed to give a client written, itemized bills regularly; neglected to refund a fee paid by another client; engaged in poor communication with another client, and could not supervise his staff.
The court noted that Barbara had received 20 sanctions from 1988 to 2009, including nine letters of caution.
In response to the new charges, Barbara told the court that he had downsized his office and hired an administrative assistant. He also argued that his clients had not suffered "substantial harm," the court said.
"He asks the court to take note of his commitment to rehabilitation and sobriety, his remorse, his complete cooperation, his strong public service record and the character letters attesting to his integrity, competence and dedication to his clients," the court said.
Barbara's clients have included Michael Lohan, Joey Buttafuoco and Jessica Hahn. Two years ago, he was the attorney for a Ronkonkoma doctor who demanded that his estranged wife either return a kidney he had donated to her or give him $1.5 million. The doctor lost.