Peter L. Cedeno - Sleazy NYC Lawyer


Peter Cedeno is a lawyer based out of New York City. Peter Cedeno is being sued by his former client Atesa Pacelli for unethical conduct.


FILED: NEW YORK COUNTY CLERK 12/07/2016 04:15 PM INDEX NO. 158224/2016 NYSCEF DOC. NO. 12 RECEIVED NYSCEF: 12/07/2016

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK COUNTY OF NEW YORK


VERIFIED AMENDED COMPLAINT
Index No. 158224/2016

ATESA PACELLI and ANTHONY PACELLI,

 Plaintiffs,

-against-


PETER L. CEDENO & ASSOCIATES, P.C., and PETER L. CEDEÑO, ESQ.,

Defendants.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. THE PARTIES
  2. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
  3. Atesa's Retention of Defendants
  4. Cedeno's Initial Efforts to Develop a Sexual Relationship with Atesa
  5. Cedeno Delays the Case to Further His Relation with Atesa
  6. The Flirtation Continues Although Anthony and Atesa Are Seeking Reconciliation
  7. The Late July Text Messages
  8. The Events at The Execution of the Settlement Agreement
  9. Cedeno Solicits a Sexual Relationship with Atesa
  10. The Sexual Banter Continues
  11. The Attempted August 5 Tryst
  12. Atesa and Cedeno Consummate Their Sexual Relationship
  13. Atesa Displays Her Confusion and Vulnerability
  14. Cedeno Continues to Represent Atesa until August 19, 2016
  15. Cedeno Resists the Implications of His Actions
  16. Anthony Learns The Full Extent of Atesa's Sexual Relationship with her Attorney
  17. COUNT I - Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  18. COUNT II - Violation of Judiciary Law 487
  19. COUNT III - Battery/Sexual Assault, In the Alternative
  20. COUNT IV - Battery/Sexual Assault, In The Alternative To Count III
  21. COUNT V - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
  22. COUNT VI - Loss of Consortium
  23. VERIFICATION


Plaintiffs, by and through their undersigned counsel, for their Verified Amended Complaint against Defendants, allege as follows:

THE PARTIES

  1. Atesa Pacelli (“Atesa”) is married to Anthony Pacelli and has a residence at 325 North End Avenue, Apartment 23A, New York, NY 10282.

  1. Anthony Pacelli (“Anthony”) is married to Atesa and has a residence at 325 North End Avenue, Apartment 23A, New York, NY 10282.

  1. Peter L. Cedeño & Associates, P.C. is a law firm and New York professional corporation with its principal place of business at 111 Broadway, Suite 707, New York, New York 10006. The law firm is sued here for its actions as alleged below, and for the personal activities of Defendant Peter Cedeño under the principle of respondeat superior.

  2. Peter L. Cedeño, Esq. (“Cedeño”) is a matrimonial attorney practicing law in the State of New York with a personal residence at 33 Buckingham Road, Ramsey, New Jersey 07446.

  1. The basis of venue in New York County is CPLR § 503.

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SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

  1. Atesa hired Cedeño to represent her in a divorce proceeding against Anthony at a time when Atesa was particularly vulnerable, both emotionally and financially. She faced, inter alia, a pending divorce proceeding, a possible loss of child custody, a criminal matter stemming from a recent arrest for assault relating to the divorce proceeding, and a then-ongoing ACS investigation that threatened her relationship with her child. Cedeño, a trusted fiduciary with regard to many of these issues, stressed his ability to obtain positive results for Atesa.

    Cedeño made use of especially sensitive personal information learned in the context of the attorney-client relationship, not to advance Atesa’s legal interests but in an ultimately successful effort to develop a sexual relationship with Atesa. To further this objective Cedeño delayed the proceedings, lying to the court and to the parties in the process. He used the delays he wrongfully created to get closer personally to Atesa. And Cedeño’s efforts to further a sexual relationship with Atesa only intensified after Cedeño learned that the Plaintiffs were trying to reconcile. But Cedeño never developed, and given his role and the inherent power imbalance in the relationship could never develop, a consensual sexual relationship with Atesa. Instead Cedeño sexually assaulted Atesa.

    The sexual assault, the intentional delays which preceded it, and the deliberate interference with Anthony’s and Atesa’s efforts to reconcile have caused the Plaintiffs to suffer immense emotional and financial damages. Indeed, Cedeño’s ongoing flirtation with his client, and his quest to develop a sexual relationship with her, demonstrate that he placed his own personal interests ahead of those of his vulnerable client, a breach of his fiduciary obligations. Accordingly, Cedeño and his law firm should be held liable for sexual assault/battery, breach of fiduciary duty, violations of Judiciary Law §487, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium, and be required to pay commensurate actual and punitive damages.



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FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Atesa’s Retention of Defendants

  1. Atesa had no relationship with Cedeño, professionally or personally, prior to retaining him and his law firm on June 3, 2016.

  1. Atesa’s divorce from Anthony was highly contentious.

  2. Atesa was vulnerable throughout the pendency of the divorce proceedings due to the adversarial nature of the proceeding and the emotional and financial constraints the divorce placed on her.

  1. Atesa was also defending herself from accusations of drug abuse and assault, which placed an additional strain on her emotionally.

  1. Atesa was arrested on or about May 9, 2016 for a claim of assault against Anthony.

  2. On or about that time, a temporary order of protection was entered which prevented Anthony and Atesa from having any contact with each other. Because Anthony and Atesa could not discuss amongst themselves a possible settlement, or even ways to streamline the case, the temporary order of protection gave Cedeño more control over the pace of the proceedings, and the flow of information about Anthony’s actions and intentions in the divorce, than would ordinarily be the case.

  1. Cedeño was Atesa’s third attorney retained in connection with the contemplated divorce.

  1. In order to pay Defendants’ retainer, Atesa maxed out her credit card and paid Defendants in several installments.

  1. On June 8, 2016, Cedeño text messaged Atesa: “Btw do u have your child this evening? Say after 5pm? Considering seeing u after I'm done in court.”


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  1. Atesa rebuffed Cedeño’s attempts to schedule the meeting at an off-hour time and, instead, suggested they meet at their originally scheduled time the next day.

  1. This evidences the beginning of Cedeño’s attempts to meet with Atesa at inappropriate times in order to manipulate her into establishing a sexual relationship with him.

  1. At meetings with Atesa on June 3 and 9, 2016, Cedeño informed Atesa that he believed strongly in the merits of her case and that he would be able to ensure custody of her young child. Atesa’s prior lawyers had not expressed such confidence.

  1. Also at the June 9 meeting, Cedeño told Atesa he had a good relationship with Justice Matthew Cooper and that he could go outside of the normal channels to get the case assigned to Justice Cooper, who was originally assigned to the Pacelli’s divorce, and who Cedeño considered to be more favorable to Atesa than the judge then assigned to the case, Justice Tandra Dawson. Cedeño had also discussed reaching out to Justice Cooper at the June 3 meeting with Atesa.

  1. As a result of Cedeño’s purported confidence, Atesa placed a great deal of trust in him and his law firm, and developed a strong personal connection with Cedeño at an especially vulnerable time in her life.

  1. Atesa also revealed many intimate details of her personal life and history to Cedeño in an effort to secure the best legal advice possible.

  1. Moreover, as Atesa had already paid two (2) other attorneys’ retainers, Atesa was under great stress financially to ensure a continued attorney relationship with Defendants. Cedeño knew or should have known that Atesa had no reasonable prospect of switching lawyers.

Cedeño’s Initial Efforts to Develop a Sexual Relationship with Atesa

  1. At the meeting on June 9, 2016, Cedeño commented on Atesa’s appearance calling her “beautiful” and stating she looked “ten years younger” than her actual age.

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  1. Throughout Cedeño’s representation of Atesa, Cedeño spent as much or more time discussing personal matters with Atesa and complimenting her appearance as he did discussing her pending legal matter.

  1. Cedeño displayed a lack of interest in pursuing the case in an expeditious manner, all stemming from Cedeño’s desire to prolong the litigation in order to solicit Atesa into consummating a sexual relationship.

  1. On June 20, 2016, Cedeño told Atesa over the phone that she should “date an older guy” who “would know how to treat” her.

  1. Cedeño is approximately seven (7) years older than Atesa.

  2. Cedeño, through his inappropriate comments, was leveraging his position as a trusted confidante of Atesa in an effort to persuade her into entering into a sexual relationship with him. These efforts intensified as the matrimonial action moved toward resolution.

Cedeño Delays the Case to Further His Relationship with Atesa

  1. On June 23, 2016, Anthony and Atesa both appeared in Court in compliance with a previously-scheduled court appearance.

  1. Attorneys for both parties were present, Bettina Hindin (“Hindin”) for Anthony and Cedeño for Atesa.

  1. Cedeño shared many intimate and personal details of his life with Atesa in the approximately two hour period waiting for the case to be called but prior to the Court Conference.

  1. Among other things, in attempting to further his personal bond with Atesa and demonstrate his masculinity, Cedeño bragged about having a “weakness” for speeding up to 120 miles per hour and a fondness for “outrunning cops.”


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  1. During this approximately two hour period waiting for the case to be called, Cedeño falsely represented to Atesa that he was only “technically” married, did not live at home, and did not see his wife regularly.


  1. Cedeño further represented that he was “free to date”.

  2. Upon information and belief, Cedeño lives with his wife as husband and wife at their marital home.

  1. While in Court for the June 23, 2016 Court Conference, Cedeño asserted multiple times that he would like to go on a date with Atesa.

  1. During the appearance, Hindin approached Cedeño to schedule a four-party settlement meeting.

  1. Cedeño advised Hindin that he was not available for a settlement meeting until July 15, 2016.

  1. Cedeño sought a later date for the settlement meeting in order to slow down the case, providing him more time to solicit Atesa into a sexual relationship.

  1. Moreover, while agreeing with Hindin to a four-way meeting on July 15, Cedeño did not advise Atesa of either Anthony’s desire for a settlement meeting or the fact that such a meeting had been scheduled through Cedeño and Hindin for July 15.

  1. Cedeño was able to manipulate the timing of the case and slow down the proceedings, in part, because Atesa and Anthony were unable to communicate (with narrow exceptions allowed for in Orders dated June 23, 2016, as detailed infra at ¶44) as a result of the temporary order of protection.

  1. Cedeño also failed to timely advise Atesa that Anthony, through Hindin, made numerous settlement overtures in another attempt to delay resolution of the matter to provide Cedeño with more time to solicit a sexual relationship with Atesa.


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  1. At the June 23, 2016 Court appearance, a Stipulation was entered into by the parties. A true and correct copy of the June 23, 2016 signed Stipulation and Orders signed that date is annexed hereto as Exhibit A.


  1. The June 23 So-Ordered Stipulation did allow for Atesa and Anthony to communicate by e-mail concerning “access” issues provided that both parties’ counsel were copied on any e-mail. There was also an exception which allowed for a settlement meeting. However, the temporary order of protection remained in effect and Atesa and Anthony were still not able to communicate with each other, subject to the aforementioned narrow exceptions. Atesa remained reliant on Cedeño for almost all communications involving Anthony. And Cedeño made sure of this, imploring Atesa not to discuss anything related to the case, including the scheduling of any meeting, with Anthony.

  1. Also at the June 23, 2016 Court appearance, Cedeño improperly requested to the Court Attorney that the case be transferred from Justice Tandra Dawson to Justice Matthew Cooper. The Court denied this request.

  1. Cedeño failed to tell Atesa in advance that he would be making this request to change judges at the June 23 Conference, and Cedeño failed to tell Atesa that his request for a change in judges had been denied. Rather Cedeño advised Atesa that his request to change judges was neither granted nor denied, and that the issue would be re-visited once the drug test results which were ordered on June 23 had come back negative.

  1. The request to change judges risked prejudicing Atesa in the eyes of the Court because the request was improper. In reality the request to change judges was frivolous and based only on Cedeño’s interest in delaying resolution of the matter.


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The Flirtation Continues Although Anthony and Atesa Are Seeking Reconciliation

  1. While delaying the case though claims of being unavailable, and concealing from Atesa both the scheduled July 15 settlement meeting and Anthony’s desire for such a meeting, Cedeño continued to engage in further “flirtatious” text messaging with Atesa while the case remained active in order to persuade her to engage in a sexual relationship with him.

  1. Throughout the June 23 to July 15 period, Cedeño nurtured an improper relationship with Atesa by “confiding” in her purported details of his “troubled marriage” and his own plans to initiate a divorce.

  1. On June 28, 2016, Atesa inquired as to whether Cedeño had provided Hindin with unreimbursed medical information. Upon Cedeño’s confirmation that this was done, Atesa messaged “Have I mentioned recently that you’re the best??” followed by three (3) “thumbs-up” emojis Cedeño responded “No. I was waiting.”

  1. On July 2, 2016, in response to prior messages regarding tax status of temporary support payments, Atesa text messaged Cedeño “Thanks : ). I’ll try to control my freak out tendencies until then” followed by three (3) “smiley-face” emojis. Cedeño responded “Have a glass of wine” then “Cabernet”.

  1. On July 6, 2016, after Atesa inquired as to whether a subpoena was sent to the accountant, Cedeño responded “It’s in the mail” followed by “You think I go to sleep on your case? Never” and “I have learned to anticipate your requests.”

  1. Atesa responded to Cedeño’s text messages with “It warms my heart to hear you aren’t ‘asleep.’ I guess my evil plan is working.” Cedeño responded with “U have an evil plan?” followed by “I like those.”

  1. On July 8, 2016, Atesa texted Cedeño “is there something happening on July 15m that I am supposed to know about?” Cedeño responded “Not that I know. Why?”


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  1. Atesa explained that Anthony had sent e-mails referring to a previously-scheduled meeting on July 15th. The location for the July 15 meeting had yet to be determined but the timing was set for 10:00 a.m.


  1. On July 8, 2016, Hindin confirmed with Cedeño a meeting previously scheduled for July 15, 2016 at Defendants’ office. The meeting was to include both parties and counsel to both parties.

  1. On July 13, 2016, following a text from Cedeño that he had multiple clients “complaining” to him, Atesa text messaged him “Ha ha you already made your deal w the counselor. I’m still negotiating” followed by three (3) “devil” emojis.

  1. Cedeño responded “what u negotiating?” to which Atesa responded “A few things that I want. Who knows if the devil will help me out??? But I may have to give it a shot...” Cedeño coyly responded “Fortune only goes to the bold.”

  1. Later that night on July 13, 2016, the inappropriate text messaging continued:
    Atesa: Asleep??
    Cedeño: Why would I do such a wasteful thing
    Cedeño: Tell me how I can be of service?
    Atesa: I guess it can wait until tomorrow...[“angel” emoji]
    Cedeño: Why?
    Cedeño: Imagine if Columbus had said America can wait till tmrw. Kennedy had said the Moon can wait till tmrw.
    Atesa: I’m going to be up all night writing a stock pitch. I’m bored. My mind is wandering...
    Atesa: But I’m trying so hard to be good [“angel” emoji].
    Cedeño: What happens if u stop trying?
    Atesa: you can answer that question better than me...[“angel” emoji](still being good).


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  1. Anthony sent a letter to Atesa dated July 13, 2016. Since he was prohibited from sending the letter directly to Atesa, he left the letter with a concierge to be picked up by Atesa during a child care handoff. On the evening of July 12 Hindin e-mailed a copy of Anthony’s July 13 letter to Cedeño with a notation that the letter was to be hand delivered through the concierge. Defendants then forwarded a copy of the letter to Atesa on July 13. Receiving and reading this letter on the 13th, Atesa learned for the first time since Atesa had retained Cedeño that Anthony was seriously interested in settling the case.


  1. On July 14, 2016, when Atesa inquired about the settlement meeting scheduled for the following day, Cedeño responded via text message “What’s the point? His letter was that of a twat,” alluding to Anthony’s July 13 Letter and further evidencing Cedeño’s desire to undermine Anthony and prolong the divorce proceeding.

  1. Cedeño further text messaged Atesa claiming that the July 15, 2016 settlement meeting was never confirmed although Atesa noted that it was her impression that the meeting was confirmed by multiple e-mails. Cedeño further advised that he could not attend the meeting even though he had previously confirmed the meeting.

  1. Ultimately, after a lengthy exchange, Atesa sent Cedeño a message that the meeting was “confirmed” followed by a “winking face” emoji. Cedeño replied “I saw it coming. I deserve it. I’ll make it up to u.”

  1. On July 15, 2016, Cedeño sent Atesa a text message at 8:01:05 a.m. stating “Call me”. Atesa replied at 8:10:03 a.m. stating “One minute.” Cedeño text messaged Atesa twice more at 8:52:34 a.m. and 8:53:32 a.m. She replied to these text messages at 9:00:58 a.m.:

    Cedeño: Btw why does it take u so long to respond to texts? Can’t figure that one out
    Atesa: I’m a busy busy girl counsel : )
    Cedeño: Well I shouldn’t be last on the list
    Atesa: So work your way up
    Cedeño: Hmm.
    Cedeño: Interesting. Any advice?


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  1. Following these text message exchanges, Atesa and Anthony met in Defendants’ offices to discuss a possible settlement. Hindin was present on-site but not in the room where Atesa and Anthony discussed the possible settlement. Cedeño was not there.

  1. Anthony and Atesa decided to settle the case and attempt a reconciliation as they both desired to resume their married life.

  1. Atesa apprised Cedeño in sum and substance that her meeting with Anthony had led to an agreement in principle to settle the case, and that Atesa and Anthony were going to attempt a reconciliation.

The Late July Text Messages

  1. Cedeño, undeterred by Atesa’s desire to reconcile with her husband, expressed disappointment with the results of the July 15 meeting and attempted to procure waivers from Atesa while continuing to pursue a sexual relationship with her, as evidenced by the following text message exchange on July 22, 2016, starting at approximately 8:05 p.m., until approximately 11:55 p.m.:

    Atesa: How’s beer time?? Haven’t heard from you all week! You’re now officially my ghost lawyer.
    Atesa: “ghost” emoji
    Cedeño: Your my ghost client
    Cedeño: U know what you’ve done.
    Cedeño: I expected more.
    Atesa: What have I done?
    Atesa: And what did u expect
    Cedeño: You have been absent. That you wouldn’t.
    Atesa: That I wouldn’t what? Don’t be cryptic.

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Cedeño: Be absent.
Atesa: I don’t even know what that means...
Atesa: You want me to sign waivers...give you more retainers...you’re all business.
Cedeño: U know
Atesa: U know too
Atesa: Don’t pretend
Cedeño: Ur pretending.
Atesa: Just SAY it.
Cedeño: Ok.
Cedeño: Did you hear me?
Atesa: Use the little audio function...button to left of “space” : )
Atesa: Or just write it...
Cedeño: Hmm. U first.
Atesa: Well what if...
Cedeño: Now that’s cryptic.
Atesa:...what if I’m annoyed I haven’t seen you in almost a month.
Cedeño: Who’s fault is that?
Atesa: Yours
Cedeño: What should I do?
Atesa: What do you want to do?
Cedeño: What u need me to do.
Atesa: Everytime you talk to me you’re all business. Stings
Cedeño: Read again.
Atesa: Next week
Cedeño: Why so far
Atesa: My Mom is in town [“smiley face” emoji]
Atesa: Sunday...?
Cedeño: Perhaps
Atesa: No wait I can’t Sunday woods
Atesa: *woops
Cedeño: What would u have planned?
Atesa: Have to think on it...

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Atesa: Can I shut down the lawyer for a night? Or is that asking too much
Cedeño: Shut it down
Cedeño: What u doing
Atesa: I’m out tonight w friends. It’s my bday silly.
Atesa: July 22nd, the best day of the year : )
Cedeño: Wow no invite. Incredible. Enjoy.
Atesa: Like you’d have come
Atesa: See! You’re asleep! And I’m here in some random club...and everyone is wasted off their assess, and one of my dumb friends is even puking...and it’s the perfect moment for you to say hi.

  1. At approximately 5:14:08 a.m. the next morning, Cedeño responded “I want u to wake up happy”. Following Atesa’s inquiry into whether Cedeño woke up happy this morning, he replied “Very.”

  1. Later on the morning of July 23, 2016 the following text message exchange took place wherein Cedeño unequivocally expressed his desire to “date” Atesa:

    Cedeño: What u doing today ...
    Cedeño: So answer my question
    Atesa: Poker tournament. Then drinks w a friend if I bust early. You?
    Atesa: Also hit the gym [A picture of Atesa in gym clothes was attached to the message]
    Atesa: Do you even remember what I look like? :)
    Cedeño: Yes I looked u up on Facebook last night and this Mrng [Morning]. Had to get creative and use your maiden name.
    Cedeño: Today I’m picking up a new car. Then movies.
    Atesa: And yet you don’t friend me. Ouch.
    Cedeño: Patience
    Atesa: What’s your new car?
    Cedeño: BMW X5M
    Cedeño: Turned in a BMW M4
    Cedeño: I’m into cars so when we become a thing I don’t need u telling me I can’t buy what I want. Understand?




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  1. Later that day, Cedeño demanded “an updated pic” from Atesa through text message. The following text message conversation ensued:

    Atesa: You first ;)
    Cedeño: [This message included a picture of Defendant in his car]
    Cedeño: Stop trying to control
    Atesa: So serious
    Cedeño: Driving a 320 HP car at 120 mph while taking a picture is serious
    Atesa: selfies aren’t my strong suit [A picture of Atesa was attached].


  1. Cedeño responded later in the conversation with another picture of himself before the following conversation ensued:

    Cedeño at 3:52 p.m.: What r u doing home?
    Atesa at 3:53 p.m.: Oh so you DO pay attention to what I write
    Cedeño at 3:53 p.m.: Get out there!
    Atesa at 3:53 p.m.: Lol gotcha
    Atesa at 3:53 p.m.: I told you where I was going today...quick...do u remember???
    Cedeño at 3:54 p.m.: U busted early?
    Cedeño at 3:54 p.m.: Who’s the friend?
    Cedeño at 3:54 p.m.: Where
    Cedeño at 3:54 p.m.: Omg u r so disruptive
    Atesa at 3:56 p.m.: Still here; still playing
    Cedeño at 3:58 p.m.: In your apt?
    Atesa at 3:59 p.m.: At the poker tourney. That pic’s from earlier
    Atesa at 4:03 p.m.: What are you doing??
    Cedeño at 4:05 p.m.: Showering
    Cedeño at 4:21 p.m.: I really hate your delays.
    Cedeño at 4:22 p.m.: It causes unnecessary friction
    Cedeño at 4:22 p.m.: U want friction?
    Atesa at 4:43 p.m.: I’m in the middle of a tournament mr. Impatient : ) ...
    Cedeño at 4:49 p.m.: Don’t make me second place to anything. That becomes problem number 1.




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  1. Later on July 23, 2016, the conversation continued:

    Atesa: Tell me something about you. Something I don’t know. ...
    Cedeño: Saw [Star Trek] at 11:00 a.m. Also I like to get in fist fights. I cry during some movies. ...
    Cedeño: I also like to out run cops. Did it twice this year.
    Atesa: Omg what?
    Atesa: And what’s this about fist fights?? Like w anyone or someone specific over and over again?
    Cedeño: Usually someone who deserves it. Always someone who seems tough. I’m pretty good so I show up as a surprise.
    Cedeño: Also another thing u don’t know. After my second drink I have no filter.
    Atesa: Meaning you say whatever’s on your mind?
    Atesa: After only 2 drinks?
    Atesa: Lightweight
    Cedeño: Yes. And yes I’m a light weight
    Atesa: So what you’re saying is I need to get you drunk. Which apparently isn’t very hard : )
    Cedeño: That and that I’m also very protective and loyal. U r loyal too due to your sign.
    Cedeño: We don’t like being crossed but know how to defend ourselves. ...
    Atesa: Though I tone it down. Most people can’t handle me as I really am. Too intense.
    Cedeño: Hmm. Should be interesting


  1. Atesa then sent Cedeño another picture of herself on July 23, 2016 while she was >still playing poker, precipitating the following inappropriate text message exchange:

    Cedeño: U winning any money?
    Atesa: Yes
    Atesa: So far!
    Cedeño: How on earth will u ever have time for anything else?
    Atesa: 1 x / month. I manage my vices v [very] carefully
    Cedeño: Thank u for telling me.
    Cedeño: What other vices exist?



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Atesa: Can’t tell you all my secrets now can I
Cedeño: You will and u should start now.
Cedeño: Say yes to my FB [Facebook] friend request BF [before] I chg [change] my mind
Atesa: You’re very bossy
Cedeño: Yes but I reward obedience
Atesa: OMG you’re ridiculous
Cedeño: It shouldn’t be so bad
Atesa: Is that what you tell all the girls
Cedeño: Is that what u believe?
Atesa: No. Not really. But don’t forget that I don’t really know you, despite 18 pages of texts b/t [between] us : )
Cedeño: Time will cure that.

  1. On July 24, 2016 Atesa text messaged Cedeño requesting that Cedeño review settlement documents negotiated by Atesa and Anthony. She indicated that that the document had been reviewed “100x”.

  1. Following a brief discussion regarding Atesa’s case, the following exchange occurred wherein Cedeño inappropriately complimented Atesa’s appearance:

    Atesa: Has my selfie game improved? You be the judge...On my way to “bang it out”, as they say ; ) [a picture of Atesa in gym attire was attached to this text message]
    Cedeño: Much improved
    Atesa: I’m a fast learner
    Cedeño: My god u r super slim
    Atesa: Not your style?
    Cedeño: Didn’t say that.
    Cedeño: Let me tell u where my style begins. Brain power. Humor. Sensitivity. U have those in abundance. The other stuff u don’t need me to tell u what u already know.

  1. Approximately five (5) hours after that exchange, Cedeño informed Atesa that he was “troubled by the agreement.” Cedeño insisted on meeting Atesa to discuss the agreement although she indicated that she was “fine with all the terms” because she had “the numbers and they back it up.” She further indicated that she was just seeking to expedite the process and avoid any “litigation risk.”

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  1. On July 25, 2016 at approximately 8:00 p.m., Cedeño text messaged Atesa “What u doing?” which precipitated the following exchange where Cedeño once again expressed an interest in pursuing a sexual relationship with Atesa: Cedeño: drinks and laughs w brothers then bed.
    Atesa: How many brothers do you have
    Cedeño: 2
    Cedeño: an older and a younger
    Atesa: I bet you got into a lot of trouble growing up
    Cedeño: yes.
    Cedeño: bet u want to get in trouble
    Atesa: I bet you do too
    Cedeño: strangely yes
    Cedeño: your smart so trouble w u can’t be all that bad
    Atesa: Trouble seems to follow me around. I try to be good.
    Atesa: I really do; I swear
    Cedeño: So I should assume trouble w u is good?
    Atesa: I’m not the only one who’s trouble around here
    Atesa: What should I assume??
    Cedeño: That u won’t always get away w being the smartest person in the room
    Atesa: Oh so you’re going to out smart me ; )
    Atesa: What else are you going to do?
    Cedeño: What do u want?
    Atesa: Everything and I'm not kidding when I say that. I do nothing halfway and I play for keeps. I don't screw around. It bores me. If I want someone I want all of them. 100%. I don't share and I don't compromise.
    Atesa: So know what you’re getting into
    Cedeño: Pretty definitive and unequivocal. Refreshing.


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  1. On July 25, 2016, Cedeño expressed reservations regarding the language of the proposed agreement, primarily with respect to his own potential liability:
    Cedeño: I’m not willing to open myself up for a law suit in what could conceivably be the worst deal I have ever seen. You don’t even get child support for gods sake!
    Atesa: He’s going to kill this deal and I’m going to hold you responsible.
    Atesa: Your edits are all about covering yourself and that is not ok with me. If you want another waiver, another release, I’ll sign it.
    Cedeño: I want an email making it clear that you are insisting signing this deal despite not having received or reviewed his statement of net worth. That I did not participate in the negotiations. That you know I am not recommending that you sign this agreement. That I am against you not receiving child support. You send that and we are then good.
    Atesa: Check your email
    Cedeño: Ok. We’re good.
    There is an additional letter you will have to sign on wed...

  1. Despite already compelling Atesa to sign at least one release and at least one waiver, Cedeño further coerced Atesa to send an e-mail in a transparent attempt to escape liability arising from attempts to pursue a sexual relationship.

  1. Cedeño’s conduct reflected an attempt to exculpate himself as well as derail the settlement agreement and reconciliation so as to further prolong the representation of Atesa toward securing a sexual relationship.

  1. The settlement agreement in question had, in fact, been negotiated by Atesa’s prior attorneys, Patricia Fersch and Maggie Kaminer, and Anthony’s attorneys.

  1. Atesa again explained that her primary concern was a quick resolution with Anthony because she “want[s] to be done w this crap. It’s horrible and it’s destroying my life.”

  1. Defendants repeatedly ignored Atesa’s requests for a quick resolution in order to permit more time to secure a sexual relationship.

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  1. At approximately 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on July 25, 2016, the following solicitous exchange occurred:
    Cedeño: We’re waiting on a response from the court.
    Cedeño: Keep holding me personally responsible.
    Cedeño: [“winking-face” emoji]
    Atesa: I will. No more selfies for you. I knew it would go like this. It’s like asking a scorpion not to sting.
    Cedeño: Omg apologize.
    Atesa: OMG own it
    Cedeño: Apologize right now
    Atesa: Why
    Cedeño: Bc [Because] it isn’t true.
    Cedeño: Looking out for u cost me being accused of looking out for myself and then being called a Scorpion. ...
    Cedeño: Where is the apology
    Cedeño: U can reserve it for later
    Atesa: I was looking forward to seeing you today
    Cedeño: After the agreement.
    Cedeño: Me too btw.
    Cedeño: Actually lets meet tmrw after 5.
    Atesa: I can’t tomorrow. Have plans. Wed or thurs.
    Cedeño: We’d
    Cedeño: Wednesday
    Atesa: Try not to send me too many waivers between now and then.

The Events at the Execution of the Settlementb Agreement

  1. On July 27, 2016, the parties, including Cedeño and Hindin, met to sign the Settlement Agreement.

  1. Atesa and Anthony stated to Cedeño and Hindin that they did not intend to get divorced but rather wanted to hold the uncontested divorce documents in escrow pending their attempt at reconciliation.

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  1. Hindin properly advised the parties that the Judge could hold open the case only for approximately six months.

  1. Upon this revelation, Anthony suggested that the parties close the divorce case and, if necessary, file new uncontested documents at a later date.

  1. Disappointed by this decision and seeking a way to ensure a continued opportunity to pursue a sexual relationship with Atesa, Cedeño instead strongly suggested that the parties enter the Judgment of Divorce at that time, stating that it “would be cleaner to just get divorced now.”

  1. Atesa and Anthony told Cedeño that they did not want to get a divorce which visibly upset Cedeño.

Cedeño Solicits a Sexual Relationship with Atesa

  1. Later on July 27, 2016, Cedeño again sought out Atesa in order to further his goal of coaxing her into a sexual relationship, although she once again refused his request to meet:
    Cedeño: Hmm
    Atesa: Hmmm yourself
    Cedeño: My hmm is worth more than yours
    Atesa: Confused? Disappointed? Intrigued? Something else? Use your words.
    Cedeño: Those are all good words.
    Atesa: You’re confused...I’m confused too.
    Cedeño: How can u be confused
    Atesa: Apparently I missed a few key details
    Cedeño: U also forgot about dinner
    Atesa: I didn’t just long stressful day. Exhausted

  1. On July 29, 2016, after declining to have dinner with Cedeño, Atesa had the following exchange with Cedeño:
    Atesa: You’re on my to do list
    Cedeño: Never heard it put that way.
    Atesa: Saucy today aren’t we
    Cedeño: Yes. Tmrw back to “I don’t know u” Atesa: Not like that at all. I text you bc I’m thinking about you.
    Cedeño: I like it. It’s sweet.


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  1. Cedeño also makes another improper attempt to meet Atesa in person which she once again rebuffs:
    Cedeño: Where ru?
    Atesa: At home w [daughter].
    Cedeño: I’m a block away
    Atesa: Not a good time : (

  1. Cedeño continued to engage in personal communications far removed from the scope of the professional representation:
    Cedeño: Btw once you’ve check my name on your to do list is the plan to cross me off?
    Atesa: No
    Atesa: And where am I on your list?
    Cedeño: Considering your semi bi polar I would say I have to gauge your sincerity
    Atesa: Ouch

  1. Cedeño goes on to indicate that he is attracted to Atesa in soliciting her affections, references private details concerning her marriage, and subtly belittles Anthony:
    Cedeño: Don’t see it that way. See it more as being refreshing that we r the type to just say what’s on our minds.
    Cedeño: We’re eerily similar that way.
    Cedeño: Also I’m strangely attracted to a little crazy
    Cedeño: and to be clear, if u scratched my head I’m not the type to call the police.
    Cedeño: But wouldn’t want that happening too often wo (without) the corresponding amount of affection


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  1. Cedeño then demonstrates his needy and demanding nature in the following unprofessional exchange:
    Cedeño: my only character flaw is wanting too much attention
    Atesa: Only one character flaw? ImpressiveAtesa: I got you beat by a few : )
    Cedeño: Maybe but they may be assets in disguise
    Atesa: That’s very kind ; )
    Cedeño: Selfie time
  1. On July 30, 2016, Atesa complies, sending Defendant a picture of her in a blue dress before brunch. The following text message exchange ensues:
    Cedeño: Very nice Cedeño: You’re a troublemaker.
    Cedeño: But U r good to look at.
    Atesa: No, I’m just misunderstood : )
    Cedeño: In what way
    Atesa: My motives are pure, just sometimes need a bit of explaining.
    Cedeño: U going to explain?
    Atesa: I would explain nothing over text. I have to look in your eyes, gauge your reaction, read your body language, sense out mood. Ask a few questions myself.
    Cedeño: That’s fair.
    Atesa: Do you have a view on puffball slippers? Pls advise. [attached is a picture of Atesa in a robe and puffball slippers].

  1. Later that night on July 30, 2016, Cedeño further engages in unprofessional personal communications with Atesa, trying once again to exhibit his virility, this time in a text message conversation regarding firearms:
    Cedeño: Gym then gun range. I’m a firearms instructor.
    Cedeño: Also a competitive shooter and have a big match in a couple weeks
    Atesa: So I should stay on your good side I guess.
    Cedeño: U should but not bc of that. It’s a sport.

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  1. Atesa thereafter recounted a story on July 31, 2016 revolving around Cedeño allegedly shooting an individual before the bar exam:
    Atesa: Good morning : ) Yes you cited it as the reason you learned how to shoot. Bc you only shot one guy and barely hit him despite emptying your dad’s gun. The next day you took the bar exam, was one of the first to finish...
    Cedeño: Yes I’m freaked. Cant imagine how that could have been a topic. You must be someone I’m comfortable with.
  1. In an attempt to “get Atesa’s attention,” Cedeño text messaged Atesa a “.” [a period] on August 1, 2016 at 8:46 p.m.

  1. Atesa responded at 2:20 p.m. the following day, August 2, 2016, with questions regarding her legal matter. However, following a response to her legal questions, Cedeño again engaged in inappropriate solicitation:
    Atesa: You texted me a dot btw. Probably meant for some other girl
    Cedeño: No it was to get your attention. I failed.
    Cedeño: I have consistently failed w [with] u.

The Sexual Banter Continues

  1. Cedeño, further underscoring his attempts to manipulate Atesa’s time and attention which was made possible by her vulnerable situation, claimed that Atesa pushed him away by “being absent,” which triggered the following exchange:
    Atesa: I wanted to see you Friday. But [you] didn’t want to see me ...
    Cedeño: Neg [Negative]
    Atesa: “Hmm” was your response so... Cedeño: I was hoping for more.
    Cedeño: My fault Cedeño We should communicate better
    Cedeño: Ambiguity is a waste of time
    Atesa: You have to ask for what you want. As they say in poker...
    Atesa: “No bet, no get”
    Cedeño: baby doesn’t cry baby gets no milk
    Atesa: Can u be in the city Friday or Saturday night?
    Cedeño: Yes. You?
    Atesa: Friday. You tell me when and were. I’ll be all yours.
    Cedeño: Will do.
    Atesa: [“smiley face” emoji] <=this is me b/c I blush a lot
    Cedeño: Prove it w a pic.
    Atesa: [attached to this message is a picture of Atesa in a dress]
    Atesa: See!? Ok now I want one. ....
    Cedeño: [attached to this message is a picture of Cedeño presumably driving]

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  1. Cedeño continued his inappropriate conversation with Atesa on August 3, 2016:
    Atesa: Yes I did. What are you doing today?
    Cedeño: Thinking about I
    Cedeño: U*
    Atesa: Me too
    Cedeño: Thinking about yourself?
    Atesa: Exactly! Lol.
    Cedeño: Good. It’s important to think about yourself.
    Atesa: Luckily for you it’s not the only thing I’m thinking about
    Cedeño: What a way to begin my day.
    Atesa: I specialize in being extremely distracting Cedeño: In a good way I hope...


The Attempted August 5 Tryst

  1. Cedeño then proceeded to discuss restaurant options with Atesa for their previously discussed Friday meeting.
  1. One day before the planned Friday meeting, on August 4, 2016, Cedeño reached out to Atesa in order to remind her about the planned tryst:
    Cedeño: Atesa
    Atesa: Peter
    Cedeño: Just wanted to make sure u were aware of me.
    Atesa: Im look forward to seeing u tomorrow
    Cedeño: Yes but r u aware of me today?
    Atesa: In fact I was even tho you ignored me all day
    Cedeño: Clever
    Atesa: I try
    Cedeño: Your beautiful
    Atesa: I try : )
    Cedeño: Do long delays in responses from u burn me
    Atesa: Tomorrow you’ll have the real thing.
    Atesa: No delays

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  1. On Friday, August 5, 2016 the following exchange occurred regarding Cedeño’s and Atesa’s dinner plans wherein Atesa again cancelled the meeting:
    Cedeño: What time u done w work?
    Atesa: I can meet up around 7
    Cedeño: Why so late?
    Cedeño: I figured 5.
    Cedeño: Hey u alive?!
    Atesa: What’s up?
    Cedeño: Can we meet earlier?
    Cedeño: Usually on Friday I leave at 3 in Summer today I’m staying late bc of trial prep. 7 will leave me basically doing nothing for two hours
    Atesa: No worries Peter, some other time.

  1. In order to further underscore Atesa’s belief that Cedeño desired a long-term and exclusive relationship, Atesa sent him the below text message in response to his attempt to change the time of their dinner meeting:
    Atesa: If you really wanted to see me, nothing would stop you. You wouldn't care if you had to wait 2 minutes or 2 hours, you would make it happen. You wouldn't take no for an answer. You know this, I know this. Remember what I told you a few weeks ago about not doing things halfway? About not screwing around? You should take that to heart. As far as tonight goes, I made plans. And I'm not cancelling.

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  1. The following day, August 6, 2016, Cedeño sent Atesa a “Good morning” text message at 8:08 a.m. Atesa did not respond.
  1. Undeterred, Cedeño followed that text message up with a “Good afternoon” text message at 12:46 p.m. in a blatant attempt to spark a conversation which could lead to a meeting with Atesa.

Atesa and Cedeño Consummate Their Sexual Relationship

  1. Prior to a planned Court appearance on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, a text message discussion once again demonstrated Cedeño’s ability to manipulate Atesa in order to satisfy his own personal desires, even at the expense of providing her thorough and focused legal representation:
    Atesa: See you tomorrow
    Cedeño: Duh
    Cedeño: Say something relevant
    Cedeño: U would think that between Stanford and Harvard relevance was learned.
    Atesa: So you miss me then
    Atesa: Your own fault
    Cedeño: Yes. Partly my fault
    Cedeño: Miss u a lot and there is no rational reason for that.
    Cedeño: For a moment I saw things I hadn’t imagined.
    Cedeño: Forget everything I said.
    Atesa: What – why??
    Cedeño: Bc I had wine.
    Atesa: So you say things you don’t mean
    Atesa: Or you say what you really think but don’t want to admit to yourself without wine
    Cedeño: U know the answer
    Atesa: [“kissing face” emoji]

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Atesa: Of course I do.
Atesa: You’re ignoring me
Cedeño: by thinking about u and keeping it to myself so as to avoid being hurt?
Atesa: I don’t want you to keep it to yourself
Cedeño: I have to bc u r so easily capable of hurting the vulnerable.
Cedeño: I was crushed on Friday. Like a stupid boy.
Atesa: Who asks their dinner date to meet up at 5? Seemed like u were trying to get out of it
Cedeño: Could be that bc of my age and lack of experience I see things happening a little earlier. I’m up at 4:45 every day.
Cedeño: I also don’t live in the city.

  1. Upon meeting at Court on August 10, 2016, Cedeño, rather than focusing on zealously representing Atesa’s interests, expressed disappointment regarding the cancelled meetings and re-affirmed the desire to engage in a sexual relationship.

  1. Cedeño claimed to be “emotionally vulnerable” after ending a relationship -- not with his wife -- ten months ago and insisted that he was a “free man,” inviting Atesa to lunch to “celebrate” the supposed end of her case.

  1. At lunch, Atesa became intoxicated.

  2. Cedeño, sensing an opportunity, coaxed Atesa into returning to her apartment with him.

  1. While at her apartment and taking advantage of her intoxicated condition, Cedeño engaged in sexual intercourse with Atesa.

  1. Specifically, Atesa went to the bathroom and returned fully clothed to find Cedeño naked on her bed.

  1. Atesa observed a black eagle tattoo on Cedeño’s left shoulder.

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  1. Cedeño thereafter engaged in sexual intercourse with Atesa, without obtaining her consent, and over her stated objections to engaging in sex, and subsequently, over her stated requests that he stop.

  1. Atesa objected to sex due in part to the lack of birth control. After the sexual encounter, Cedeño told Atesa that the lack of birth control “really turned him on” and that he would be happy if she got pregnant as a result of their encounter because “that way you can’t ignore me.”

  1. Further, after complimenting Atesa’s breasts during the sexual encounter, Cedeño inquired as to whether Atesa had implants. Following her confirmation that she had breast implants which were an engagement present for her husband, Cedeño asserted that once “we get engaged, you’re taking them out since you put them in for another guy.”

  1. On August 10, 2016, Cedeño engaged in the following text message discussion at approximately 6:00 p.m., confirming the sexual intercourse:
    Cedeño: Omg I am so disheveled
    Atesa: Me too I have major sex hair ....
    Atesa: Anyways....I hope your meeting with “big butt and boo” went well despite u being directly from sex
    Atesa: And thus perhaps a bit distracted

  1. Cedeño then invited Atesa to lunch the next day which she initially accepted.

Atesa Displays Her Confusion and Vulnerability

  1. Following the confirmation of lunch plans, a text message exchange took place confirming Atesa’s confusion and vulnerability following the sexual encounter:
    Atesa: I’m just being silly...guess I’m surprised at how I feel.
    Cedeño: How is that?
    Atesa: I miss you and feel like tomorrow is so.far.away which is an idiotic unreasonable and irrational way to feel. Very confused.

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  1. Cedeño used Atesa’s confusion to his advantage in order to continue manipulating her into a relationship and to undermine her attempts at reconciliation with Anthony.

  1. The following day, on August 11, 2016, Atesa sent Cedeño a text message cancelling their lunch plans and confirming that an ACS representative would visit her residence the following day at 4:00 p.m.

  1. In response, Cedeño again attempted to have a sexual rendezvous with Atesa:
    Cedeño: What u doing at 4pm?
    Cedeño: in mtg
    Cedeño: East 54th
    Atesa: Np, Call me when you’re done : )
    Cedeño: How quick can u get to east 54th?
    Atesa: I can’t meet up
    Atesa: Have plans for tonight too tight

  1. Atesa’s plans for that night involved a dinner meeting with Anthony to further their reconciliation.

  1. After Atesa indicated to Cedeño that she had been drinking at approximately 6:36 p.m., he demanded to know who she was out with before demanding that he “not [be] one of many,” despite that fact that he was pursuing Atesa while she was still married to, and seeking reconciliation with, her husband Anthony:
    Cedeño: Who u having the Rothchild 1995 with?
    Atesa: Do u really want to know ? ...
    Cedeño: I’m going to choose to not know. Enjoy. I’m not what your used to and I’m not one of many. ...
    Atesa: Ok I will be honest W you
    Atesa: Why not
    Atesa: Anthony

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  1. After further indicating that she is “really drunk” and still out with Anthony, Cedeño continued to denigrate Anthony and express his attraction to Atesa:
    Cedeño: So he went from a $800 bottle to a $300 bottle.
    Cedeño: I can’t do this. I’m kind of a normal person in an abnormal life
    Cedeño: Talk tmrw.
    Cedeño: Well I’m not that normal but I want to be. U could be perfect. Yet there u are.

  1. Desperately trying to disrupt Atesa and Anthony’s efforts at saving their marriage to pursue his personal interests, Cedeño offers superficial support and then aggressively compliments her and solicits her affections:
    Cedeño at 8:04 p.m.: Look I admire his tenaciousness. Give it a try. Not looking to mess things up anyway.
    Cedeño at 8:05 p.m.: You’re a beautiful person btw ...
    Cedeño: Drink number 4. So tmrw
    Cedeño: I miss u 2. Fascinated by u also.

  1. On August 12, 2016, at the meeting with the ACS representative in Atesa’s apartment, Cedeno introduced himself to the ACS representative as Atesa’s attorney.

  1. Following the ACS visit, Atesa took her daughter to Anthony’s apartment for his visitation.

  1. Cedeño remained at Atesa’s apartment and, upon her return, they started to kiss, and became sexually intimate, though short of intercourse.

  1. Atesa stopped the encounter and, instead, suggested that she and Cedeño permanently stop all sexual intimacy.

  1. Cedeño made it clear that he was not happy with this change in circumstances and then took a shower before leaving Atesa’s apartment.

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  1. Cedeño, after receiving no text messages from Atesa from approximately 9:34 a.m on August 13, 2016 onward, text messaged Atesa at 8:16 p.m. that same day complaining that she was “ignoring” him.

Cedeño Continues to Represent Atesa until August 19, 2016

  1. On August 15, 2016, Anthony observed Atesa have an approximately one (1) hour phone conversation with Cedeño.

  1. Anthony thereafter confronted Atesa regarding her relationship with Cedeño.
  2. Anthony and Atesa were then forced to put their reconciliation on hold due to Cedeño’s sexual relationship with his client, Atesa.

  1. On August 16, 2016, Cedeño once again discussed his predilection for wine and demonstrated his demanding and controlling nature, particularly when he has imbibed alcohol:
    Atesa: I’m so glad I have random legal excuses to email and call you
    Cedeño: We could discuss wines. Just keep it in the $80-$150 range
    Atesa: Problem is I never know what anything costs, I just drink it
    Cedeño: We could talk about what we like when we drink. Establish a baseline for future discussions. ...
    Cedeño: Atesa
    Atesa: Finishing up nanny interview , will call in a bit. How is dinner w the girls?
    Cedeño: Not sober sweetheart ...
    Cedeño: Atesa
    Atesa: Yes? That’s in fact my name
    Cedeño: Just Atesa.
    Atesa: What can I do for you?
    Cedeño: Be my friend ...
    Cedeño: Please text faster
    Atesa: So you’re home
    Atesa: ?
    Cedeño: Yes dear
    Atesa: So I’m sure you have a great reason why you haven’t called me ? : )
    Cedeño: Bc I’m entertaining 18 year olds
    Cedeño: U want me to call?
    Cedeño: Say please
    Cedeño: Really mean it
    Atesa: Please call me
    Cedeño: No
    Cedeño: U weren’t nice

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Cedeño Resists the Implications of His Actions

  1. On August 17, 2016, Atesa visited Defendants’ office to provide some paperwork. Cedeño continued to represent her at the time.

  1. At that time, Atesa informed Cedeño that Anthony cancelled the reconciliation and intended to proceed with the divorce.

  1. Cedeño was pleased by the news of Atesa’s divorce, inquiring if she could now “happily date her divorce attorney”.

  1. Atesa expressed reluctance with this idea, but Cedeño threatened that he could not be “just friends” with her.

  1. Cedeño then graphically recounted their sexual encounter on August 10, 2016, reinforced that it was a good experience for both of them, and kissed Atesa before she left the office.

  1. Following a discussion on August 18, 2016 over the phone, Cedeño and Atesa discussed dinner plans for the coming Friday, with Cedeño expressing reservations about the late hour, presumably because he wanted to get home to his wife and family:
    Atesa: Does your schedule allow dinner Friday? No worries if you’re too mortified to hang out with me [“bashful face” emoji]. But If you’re free I need to get the sitter, so let me know : )
    Cedeño: Let me think on it. Don’t want 7pm

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  1. At this time, and in light of Anthony’s discovery of the sexual affair, Hindin contacted Cedeño to advise that Anthony was proceeding with the divorce. Cedeño did not inform Hindin that he no longer represented Atesa.

  1. Hindin also demanded certain changes to the uncontested divorce as a result of Atesa and Cedeño’s sexual relationship, including contesting the custody arrangement.

  1. Cedeño vowed that “we will fight [the changes]” not out of a loyalty to his client but rather out of his own self-interested desire to prevent disclosure of his improper sexual relationship with Atesa in Court filings.

  1. Cedeño, after a discussion with Hindin, requested to talk in person with Atesa that afternoon. Atesa and Cedeño met for lunch in Brooklyn that day.

  1. At the Brooklyn lunch, Cedeño questioned Atesa intensely regarding what Anthony knew about their sexual relationship.

  1. Also at this lunch, Cedeño demanded that Atesa lie about their sexual relationship to Anthony and anyone else who might inquire, explaining that he would get in “serious trouble” if the details of the relationship came to light.

  1. Cedeño also demanded that Atesa delete all of the text messages between her and Cedeño.

  1. Cedeño also threatened Atesa that he would fight Anthony if he informed Cedeño’s wife about the sexual relationship with Atesa.

  1. Upon Anthony and Hindin’s demand on or about August 19, 2016, that Atesa change counsel, Cedeño informed Atesa the same day that he was no longer willing to represent her.

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  1. Changing counsel at this late stage of the proceedings prejudiced Atesa as she would have to explain the entire matter anew at great emotional and financial expense.

  1. Cedeño further sought to justify his actions complaining to Atesa that everything resulted from the acts of her jealous ex-husband.

  1. Meanwhile, Cedeño’s attempts to maintain a sexual relationship with Atesa continued. At approximately 6:45 p.m. on August 18, 2016, Cedeño text messaged Atesa “Need a pic like right now.” Atesa then sent him two (2) pictures of herself in a bikini.

  1. Over the next two (2) days, Atesa and Cedeño spoke on the phone approximately thirty-two (32) times, totaling more than five and half hours. A true and correct copy of Atesa’s Verizon Wireless phone bill covering the period from July 25 to August 24 is annexed hereto as Exhibit B.

  1. Cedeño repeatedly requested that Atesa help him masturbate.

  2. On August 19, 2016, Cedeño text messaged Atesa in the morning in order to solicit her “help” while he was presumably masturbating:
    Cedeño: Well right now I’m in the middle of doing something purely for pleasure. After I will shower and go to Poughkeepsie to do a trial.
    Atesa: What are you doing now?
    Cedeño: Use your imagination. So either help me or get out of the way
    Atesa: So walk me through
    Atesa: What exactly your thinking about right nowAtesa: *you’re
    Cedeño: too late. You were indirectly helpful nevertheless so I thank u for that.

  1. On that same morning, Anthony e-mailed Atesa and Cedeño regarding the status of Defendants’ representation. Hindin also reiterated to Cedeño that the representation was improper and that the matter could not proceed so long as Cedeño represented Atesa.

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  1. Meanwhile, Cedeño continued his inappropriate, sexually aggressive behavior toward Atesa:
    Atesa: Will it distract you if I send you a text that includes the word “nipple”? I don’t want to mess u up
    Cedeño: I could use the distraction
    Atesa: I need your lips on my nipples sometime in the near future, or else I’m going to get very frustrated...
    Cedeño: Hmm. Is that a difficult task?

  1. Cedeño subsequently placed Atesa in touch with Michael Greene, Esq. (“Greene”) of Robinson, Brog, Leinwand, Greene, Genovese & Gluck, PC. in order to substitute Greene in as Atesa’s counsel in place of Defendants.

  1. In order to retain Greene, Atesa had to pay him a significant retainer.

  2. On August 19, 2016, Atesa and Cedeño executed a Consent to Change Attorney in favor of Greene. A true and correct copy of the Consent is annexed hereto as Exhibit C.

  1. Evidencing a stunning disregard for the apparent conflict of interest, Defendants consulted with Greene about the risk of exposure of the sexual relationship between Cedeño and Atesa.

  1. On August 20, 2016, Cedeño once again frantically solicited Atesa’s “help” while he was presumably masturbating:
    Cedeño: any way u can help me right now?!!!
    Atesa: Help you do what
    Cedeño: argh forget it
    Cedeño: time is of the essence

Anthony Learns the Full Extent of Atesa’s Sexual Relationship with her Attorney

  1. On August 22, Atesa revealed to Anthony the full extent of her relationship with Cedeño.

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  1. On information and belief, later on August 22, 2016, Anthony accessed Atesa’s iPad, for which Anthony knew the password, and discovered Atesa’s text history with Cedeño.

  1. Upon discovery of the text message conversations, Anthony had a panic attack during which he could not breathe or speak.

  1. On August 22, 2016, Cedeño again sought to disrupt Atesa and Anthony’s attempts at reconciliation asking Atesa if she was “being coerced again” by Anthony.

  1. Of course, at this time, Cedeño was no longer representing Atesa and only continued to be involved in furtherance of his interests in a sexual relationship.

  1. On August 25, 2016, Cedeño attempted to engage Atesa in further conversation after he was rebuffed, texting her to inquire if they could talk although he received no response. Cedeño also placed an unanswered phone call.

  1. On August 26, 2016, although no longer representing Atesa, Cedeño continued discussing her legal matter, inquiring “Good Mrng. Have question re ACS. It will be quick.” Cedeño’s text messages of August 25 and 26 to Atesa were on information and belief nothing more than a pretext in order to initiate conversation so as to further pursue their sexual relationship.

  1. Anthony and Atesa’s reconciliation efforts were significantly damaged and delayed by Cedeño’s misconduct.

  1. According to New York Rules of Professional Conduct 1.8(j)(1)(ii), a lawyer shall not: employ coercion, intimidation or undue influence in entering into sexual relations incident to any professional representation by the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm.

  1. According to New York Rules of Professional Conduct 1.8(j)(1)(iii), a lawyer shall not: in domestic relations matters, enter into sexual relations with a client during the course of the lawyer’s representation of the client.

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  1. Cedeño breached both sections of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct by utilizing his undue influence over Atesa to engage her in a sexual relationship during a pending domestic relations matter.

  1. An Ethics Complaint against Cedeño was filed with the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the First Judicial Department on September 30, 2016.

COUNT I (Breach of Fiduciary Duty)

  1. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each and every allegation contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

  1. A relationship of trust and confidence existed between Atesa and Defendants as a result of their attorney-client relationship.

  1. Defendants owed Atesa fiduciary duties of good faith, fidelity and undivided loyalty, and knew and were fully aware that Atesa was relying on them to represent her interests, that Defendants were in a superior position, and that Atesa depended upon them to treat her fairly and disinterestedly.

  1. Cedeño took advantage of Atesa’s reliance on him to manipulate her into an unwanted sexual relationship.

  1. Cedeño also neglected his duties of good faith, fidelity and undivided loyalty by acting in his own self-interest while rendering Atesa’s personal needs and interests subservient.

  1. Cedeño also breached his obligations under New York Rules of Professional Conduct 1.8(j)(1)(ii) and (iii).

  1. As a direct and proximate result of Cedeño’s breach of his fiduciary duties, Atesa has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional threshold of this Court. Moreover, Cedeño’s actions were willful and wanton and constituted a public wrong sufficient to warrant punitive damages. The law firm is liable for its own actions and under the principle of respondeat superior for the actions of Cedeño.

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COUNT II (Violation of Judiciary Law §487)

  1. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each and every allegation contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

  1. Throughout the course of the representation, Cedeño deliberately sought to delay settlement and resolution of the underlying divorce proceedings for the sole purpose of allowing Cedeño continued access to Atesa and otherwise furthering Cedeño’s interest in a sexual relationship with Atesa.
    In seeking this delay, Cedeño repeatedly lied to Atesa and Anthony (through counsel). For example, Cedeño delayed the proceedings for weeks with lies to opposing counsel about his unavailability for a settlement conference. Cedeño also concealed from Atesa Anthony’s stated desire for a settlement conference – said concealment being facilitated by a protective order that prohibited Anthony and Atesa from having direct communications.
    In a further effort to seek delay, Cedeño deceived the Court by making a frivolous request to change judges while concealing the fact that the request to change judges had no valid basis or even tactical motivation, but was rather solely an effort to delay the case so that Cedeño could have more time to use the attorney-client relationship to engage in a sexual relationship with his client.

  1. Each and every one of Cedeño’s acts of deceit and deliberate delay was egregious in and of itself. Moreover, Cedeño’s actions also amount to a chronic and extreme pattern of legal delinquency.

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  1. As a direct and proximate result of Cedeño’s violations of Judiciary Law §487, Atesa and Anthony have both been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional threshold of this Court. Cedeño’s actions were willful and wanton and constituted a public wrong sufficient to warrant punitive damages. The law firm is liable for its own actions and under the principle of respondeat superior for the actions of Cedeño. Therefore, Plaintiffs should receive actual and punitive damages in an amount to be proven at trial, trebled pursuant to N.Y. Jud. Law 487, plus costs.

COUNT III (Battery/Sexual Assault, In The Alternative)


  1. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each and every allegation contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

  1. Cedeño sexually assaulted Atesa on August 10, 2016, engaging in sexual intercourse with her, without obtaining her consent, and over her stated objections to engaging in sex, and subsequently, over her stated requests that he stop.

  1. Moreover, Atesa was unable to meaningfully consent or more forcibly object due to her being very intoxicated.

  1. As a direct and proximate result of Cedeño’s conduct, Atesa has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional threshold of this Court. Moreover, Cedeño’s actions were willful and wanton and constituted a public wrong sufficient to warrant punitive damages. The law firm is liable under the principle of respondeat superior for the actions of Cedeño.

COUNT IV (Battery/Sexual Assault, In The Alternative To Count III)

  1. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each and every allegation contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

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  1. Cedeño utilized his position as Atesa’s divorce attorney in order to engage Atesa ina sexual relationship.

  1. Atesa hired Cedeño during an exceptionally traumatic time in her life. The combination of divorce, custody, ACS issues and criminal issues made Atesa especially vulnerable. Cedeño was a trusted fiduciary with immense perceived and actual power over Atesa and Atesa’s future. Atesa was unable to meaningfully consent to any sexual encounters with Cedeño because of the unequal power dynamic inherent in every matrimonial attorney-client relationship. In the alternative, assuming arguendo that any divorce client could somehow consent to sex with her divorce lawyer, Atesa did not and could not have consented to sex with Cedeño, given Atesa’s vulnerable state due to her financial and emotional circumstances.

  1. Cedeño took advantage his position of authority in order to engage in sexual intercourse with Atesa without her meaningful consent.

  1. As a direct and proximate result of Cedeño’s conduct, Atesa has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional threshold of this Court. Moreover, Cedeño’s actions were willful and wanton and constituted a public wrong sufficient to warrant punitive damages. The law firm is liable under the principle of respondeat superior for the actions of Cedeño.

COUNT V (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress)

  1. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each and every allegation contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.>

  1. Cedeño, by his extreme and outrageous conduct, intentionally and recklessly caused Plaintiffs Anthony and Atesa to suffer severe emotional distress and mental trauma.

  1. Cedeño purposefully, and without regard for Atesa’s vulnerability and the damage his conduct would do to Atesa and Anthony’s reconciliation attempts, utilized his position of power as Atesa’s attorney to sabotage Atesa’s and Anthony’s attempts at reconciliation and settlement and to pursue an improper sexual relationship with Atesa.

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  1. Anthony continues to suffer from severe panic attacks to this day as a result of Cedeño’s extreme and outrageous conduct.

  1. Anthony suffered significant stress and mental anguish as a result of Cedeño’s extreme and outrageous conduct.

  1. Anthony is undergoing therapy with a psychiatrist and a psychologist as a directn result of Cedeño’s extreme and outrageous conduct, and currently takes Klonopin.

  1. Atesa is currently under the care of a psychiatrist for panic attacks and severe anxiety as a direct result of Cedeño’s extreme and outrageous conduct.

  1. Atesa currently takes and/or has taken several anti-anxiety or related medications, including Xanax and Klonopin, as a result of these panic attacks and severe anxiety.

  1. As a direct and proximate result of Cedeño’s intentional infliction of emotional distress, both Plaintiffs have been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional threshold of this Court. Moreover, Cedeño’s actions were willful and wanton and constituted a public wrong sufficient to warrant punitive damages. The law firm is liable for its own actions and under the principle of respondeat superior for the actions of Cedeño.

COUNT VI (Loss of Consortium)

  1. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each and every allegation contained in the preceding paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

  1. Anthony and Atesa were married at all times specified in this Complaint.

  2. Since July 15, 2016 Anthony and Atesa have been working towards a reconciliation of their marriage, both for their own benefit and for the sake of their young daughter.


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  1. Cedeño through his intentional reckless and/or negligent acts set forth in detail above caused Anthony to suffer the loss of martial relationship with Atesa in the form of lost love, affection, companionship, the ability to rely on one another for advice and sexual intercourse.

  1. As a direct and proximate result of Cedeño ‘s actions, Anthony has been damaged in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional threshold in this Court. Moreover, Cedeño’s actions were willful and wanton and constituted a public wrong sufficient to warrant punitive damages. The law firm is liable for its own actions and under the principle of respondeat superior for the actions of Cedeño.

    WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs demand that judgment be entered against the Defendants as follows:

            On Count I, in favor of Atesa for compensatory and puntive damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

            On Count II, in favor of Atesa and Anthony for compensatory damages, trebled, and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

            On Count III, in favor of Atesa for compensatory and puntive damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

            On Count IV, in favor of Atesa for compensatory and puntive damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

            On Count V, in favor of Atesa and Anthony for compensatory and puntive damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

            On Count VI, in favor of Anthony for compensatory and puntive damages in an amount to be determined at trial;

    Plaintiffs also demand that they be awarded their reasonable costs and disbursements to the extent available by law, and for such other and further relief as this Court deems fair and equitable.



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Dated: December 6, 2016

FRANKFURT KURNIT KLEIN & SELZ, P.C.

By: ____________________________

Ronald C. Minkoff/DLA Ronald C. Minkoff 488 Madison Avenue New York, New York 10022 Tel: (212) 980-0120 Fax: (212) 593-9175 [email protected]

LAW OFFICE OF DANIEL L. ABRAMS, PLLC

By:_____________________________

Daniel L. Abrams 31 Penn Plaza, 15th Floor New York, New York 10001 Tel.: (646) 821-4575 Fax: (646) 536-8905 [email protected]

Attorneys for Plaintiffs Anthony and Atesa Pacelli


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Anthony Pacelli verfying the contents of the complaint after being duly sworned in.

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Atesa Pacelli verfying the contents of the complaint after being duly sworned in.

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