The New Jersey Supreme Court imposed a four-year suspension on an attorney convicted of giving a judge a forged certificate of completion from a substance abuse treatment program.
Andrew R. Hurda, who listed an office address in Cherry Hill, submitted the phony certificate to a judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, when he was on trial for driving with a suspended license, the New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board said.
The document said Hurda completed three months of inpatient treatment at the Lenape Valley Foundation in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and was apparently signed by Todd Fabryk, M.Ed., LPC, LCDC, according to the DRB.
Hurda was sentenced to 90 days for driving with a suspended license and was given credit for time served for his inpatient treatment. But when jail officials sought to verify the information on the certificate, they found that the Lenape Valley Foundation doesn’t offer long-term inpatient substance abuse programs and that no one named Todd Fabryk worked there, the DRB said.
Hurda’s sentence was later adjusted to delete the time-served credit, the DRB said. And while serving his time for driving while suspended, Hurda was charged with false swearing in an official proceeding after he made statements to an unknown person while serving time in jail, admitting that he fabricated the rehab certificate, the DRB said. His statements were monitored by the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office, the DRB said.
Hurda entered a guilty plea to a charge of false swearing in an official proceeding for the forged rehabilitation certificate, and was sentenced to 18 months of probation.
New Jersey’s Supreme Court, which makes the final determination on lawyer discipline based on the DRB’s recommendations, issued a four-year suspension. The court found that Hurda’s conduct violated RPC 8.4(b), committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, and RPC 8.4(c), engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. The court, noting that Hurda has been suspended in New Jersey since 2015 for failure to pay the annual assessment to the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection for seven years, directed that the four-year suspension be deferred until he seeks readmission to the practice of law in New Jersey. The court also directed that Hurda’s readmission to practice should be conditioned on proof of his continued sobriety and proof of fitness to practice law, as attested to by a medical doctor.
Hurda did not appear for his New Jersey disciplinary proceeding, despite proper notice, the DRB said.
A reporter could not reach him for comment.
In determining what measure of discipline to recommend, seven members of the DRB voted for the deferred, four-year suspension, while one member—former Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli—voted to disbar him.
In deciding the appropriate level of discipline, the DRB noted that Hurda’s lie to the judge came during his third appearance in court to face criminal charges. Hurda had his driver’s license suspended in 2009 after he was charged with driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.12%, the DRB said. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of recklessly endangering another, which placed the other person in danger of death or serious bodily injury. Specific details of that incident are unknown, the DRB said. Then, also in 2011, he received a second drunken driving conviction after he was driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.09% on a suspended license, the DRB said.
“Here, the severity and pervasiveness of respondent’s criminal history must be met with stern discipline. Respondent comes before us with five criminal convictions: three involving DUI, one involving the reckless endangerment of another, and one involving false swearing during a court proceeding. Respondent’s pattern of dishonest conduct, even after facing severe consequences—including imprisonment—evidences the need for a significant sanction in order to protect the public,” the DRB said.
“It is clear that respondent has demonstrated an inability to learn from past mistakes. Rather, he has demonstrated an ongoing propensity to lie to cover up his illegal and unethical conduct. Therefore, the mitigating factors of respondent’s unblemished disciplinary record and his cooperation with Pennsylvania ethics authorities are insufficient to overcome his egregious false swearing conviction and other criminal conduct,” the DRB said.