The Board of Overseers of the Bar Grievance Commission has recommended against reinstating a Saco attorney to the Maine Bar.
Gary Prolman petitioned that he be allowed to practice law again following a disciplinary suspension of more than six months.
The board issued its decision on March 10, following the hearing on Prolman’s petition conducted by video conference on Aug. 20 and 21 and Sept. 16 and 17.
“Prolman is disappointed with the recommendation,” according to his attorney Mark Franco. Prolman has “filed a statement of disagreement with the court urging the judge who is tasked with reviewing the recommendation to review the evidence de novo and to issue an order rejecting the advisory opinion of the Grievance Commission,” Franco said in an email.
The next step, Franco said, is for a judge to review the evidence de novo which may include the scheduling of another hearing, and to issue a written decision.
The review panel also recommended that Prolman not be allow to petition again for reinstatement to the Bar for one year, according to court documents. In their recommendation, the panel members state, “many of the facts found herein suggest strongly that Petitioner (Prolman) should be prohibited from refiling a Petition for Reinstatement for more than one year. Petitioner’s issues are not minor and his showing at hearing was not close to establishing that he should be reinstated. The instant Petition was disingenuous and lacking in candor in many respects, yet the Board, Bar Counsel’s Office, and the Panel were required to expend considerable time and resources to evaluate and litigate it.”
Prolman was admitted to the Maine Bar in 1991, where he primarily engaged in a solo practice focusing on state and federal criminal defense work, with some handling of family law matters and work advising small businesses, according to court documents filed by the Board of Overseers of the Bar Grievance Commission.
He was most recently suspended from practicing law beginning Nov. 1, 2017, initially for six months, which was appealed by the board, according to the court documents filed by the Grievance Commission. Eventually Prolman was suspended for 2 years with all but 9 months suspended.
According to the documents, the court found that the board proved violations of Maine Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as the attorney’s oath. The specific conduct providing the basis for this discipline was:
“1. Arranging for a vulnerable client, with a history of physical and sexual abuse by and submissiveness to men she was living with, to move in with him and not disclosing this living arrangement …
2. Initiating and engaging in a sexual relationship, including performing sex acts on more than one
occasion, with a client he knew to be vulnerable and submissive …
3. Consuming alcoholic beverages and providing alcoholic beverages for consumption to his client.”
At the time, Prolman was on probation stemming from a conviction in federal court that prohibited him from any possession or use of alcoholic beverages.
However, according to Franco, “Prolman believes he should be reinstated because he has met the criterion for reinstatement set forth in Maine Bar Rule 29.”
“In July 2019 former Maine Supreme Court Justice Donald Alexander issued an order imposed a 3-month suspension of Mr. Prolman’ s license to practice law. (This was in addition to the earlier 6-month suspension.) Mr. Prolman served that suspension from September 30th through December 30th and in mid-December 2019 filed a Petition for Reinstatement.”
According to Franco, Prolman was eligible for reinstatement as of Jan. 1, 2020, but the Bar Counsel filed a Notice of Opposition and it was eight months before the hearings took place in August and September 2020.
Prolman called 26 witnesses to testify on his behalf at the August and September hearings, Franco said, while the Bar counsel did not call any. Franco pointed out that the individual who initiated the Bar complaint did not submit an objection.
This was the second disciplinary proceeding for Prolman, who was indicted in 2012 on a federal money-laundering charge and at the time was suspended indefinitely from practicing law. He eventually pleaded guilty and served nine months in a federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania in 2015 after being sentenced to two years.
He concluded his sentence in stages, first at a halfway house and then in home confinement, and after his release he applied for and was granted reinstatement to the bar on July 1, 2016.