Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ex-Senator Sues Woman over Swindle Claim

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ex-Senator Sues Woman over Swindle Claim

Article excerpt

Former Democratic state Sen. Gabriel Ambrosio has filed a libel and abuse-of-process lawsuit against a Ringwood woman who accused him of swindling her out of $100,000.

The complaint is the latest in a bitter dispute between Ambrosio and Lisa Irey, in which the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office got involved at one point, obtaining a theft indictment against Ambrosio, only to make a U-turn two months later and have it dismissed..

Ambrosio says in his lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court, Hackensack, that the indictment was the result of a malicious criminal complaint by Irey.

Irey, meanwhile, said she will ask federal authorities to take over the case that Bergen County prosecutors declined to pursue.

Irey's interaction with Ambrosio began in November 2006, when she took out a home equity loan and wrote a $100,000 check to a developer who said he needed money for two real estate deals, in Hudson County and White Plains, N.Y.

Ambrosio, an attorney with a practice in Lyndhurst, represented the developer. Irey was represented by Jersey City attorney Paul Scalia.

The parties agreed that the money was to be deposited in Ambrosio's trust account until Irey or her attorney consented to its release.

Irey was to get her money back in less than two months after the deals were concluded, along with interest and $25,000 in work on a deck at her home on Skyline Lake Drive, according to court papers.

The $100,000 was eventually released from Ambrosio's trust account. But the real estate deals went belly up, and Irey never got her money back.

Irey insisted that Ambrosio released the funds without her consent, and she filed a lawsuit in Hudson County against the developer, Ambrosio and several other defendants.

She claimed in her suit that Ambrosio was not just an attorney for the developer but also acted as a broker, promising her the real estate deals were solid and that she would never lose her money.

Ambrosio denies that he acted as a broker and that he guaranteed Irey would not lose her money.

It was during those civil proceedings that Ambrosio deposed Irey's attorney, Scalia, who admitted that he authorized Ambrosio to release the funds.

But Scalia said during the April 2008 deposition that Ambrosio had promised Irey he would make sure she wouldn't lose her money. He said Ambrosio knew the real estate deals were going sour but never told that to Irey or Scalia, causing the woman to lose her money.

"I was relying on your representations, and you shouldn't have lied about it, bottom line," Scalia said to Ambrosio.

Ambrosio replied that he was the attorney for the developer and not for Irey, and that he wasn't going to provide legal advice to Irey to the detriment of his own client. Scalia, he said, was the one who represented Irey and should have looked out for her interests. …

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