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Hawaii attorney disbarred for dishonesty in handling of apartment deed

By Star Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 11:32 a.m. HST, Oct 23, 2013

The Hawaii Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday disbarring attorney Michael R. Salling from the practice of law.

The high court said Salling, 65, violated Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct by "dishonestly" trying to gain fee-simple title to his client's apartment against her wishes.

At the time, the apartment was worth about $400,000, according to the court.The court said Salling used a power of attorney he prepared for his client to execute shortly before her death; misrepresented the authenticity of the invalid deed before a notary public; recorded the invalid deed, and misrepresented that the apartment had been given to him as a gift to avoid paying taxes.

The court also said Salling "does not recognize the wrongful nature of his conduct or show remorse and evinces no intention to pay restitution."

In an email statement, Salling said after the woman's death in 2006, her family settled a lawsuit over the Honolulu Tower condominium where they had lived together. He said the family "retaliated by filing an unmerited complaint" with the disciplinary counsel.

The disciplinary counsel's office conducts investigations of unethical complaints against  Hawaii lawyers.

The court said the disbarment order will take effect 30 days from Tuesday.

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