Federal Lawsuit Blasts Political Cronyism in Philadelphia Courts

Share Article

Federal Complaint: Elected official and ward leader Ronald Donatucci as Register of Wills refuses hearings in estate cases paid for and filed in his office to give favors to campaign contributors.

I spoke to 10 attorneys who practice before the Register and they all confirmed that the Register of Wills will refuse appointing a qualified heir so they can appoint someone on their list of campaign contributors to reward. It must be true because it happened in my case

The Philadelphia Register of Wills is an elected official who runs campaigns to win his position. He also has the duty as a judicial officer to appoint qualified heirs as administrators to estates. When Petitions are filed with the Register, the law (20 Pa.C.S.A. §301(b)) and the Register's own procedures manual mandate hearings before refusing an heir appointment to be administrator of their parent's estate. But in Philadelphia, the law does not matter when politicians run the show. New York Attorney Susan Chana Lask was amazed to find the Register not once but twice denied her a hearing and appointed a third party stranger to administer her mother's estate without any basis, and against the law. The lawsuit alleges that the Register denies hearings to qualified heirs so he can instead appoint his campaign contributors as administrators, who then reap financial gains by taking a percentage of the estates they're appointed to. The Complaint was filed July 12, 2006 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Case No 06CV3066.

Ms. Lask states, "Politics should not run our courtrooms and the courts should not be run by politicians. The Citizens of Philadelphia are being constitutionally and financially ripped off by the Register. It appears Mr. Raimondi and Mr. Donatucci feel so above the law that they lost touch with reality and will violate even an attorney's rights. They just picked on the wrong attorney."     

In March, 2006 Ms. Lask's mother died without a will, called intestate. Her mother left real estate in Philadelphia. To wind up her mother's affairs expeditiously and with dignity, Ms. Lask filed a Petition for Letters of Administration with the Register of Wills. Pennsylvania law mandates the order of persons to be appointed went to the children in this case. Ms. Lask was the only child requesting appointment; however, the Register of Wills without a hearing and without Ms. Lask present denied the Petition on May 4, 2006, verbally informing that Defendant Raimondi, the Deputy to the Register of Wills, decided to appoint a third person stranger. That third person stranger will also receive a nice chunk of the estate for being appointed by the Register. Calls and a faxed letter to Defendant Donatucci were ignored. After more calls, Defendant Raimondi's clerk instructed Ms. Lask to pay for and file a second Petition. That was done May 9, 2006, only to be refused a hearing again and ignored to this day.

"I spoke to 10 attorneys who practice before the Register and they all confirmed that the Register of Wills will refuse appointing a qualified heir so they can appoint someone on their list of campaign contributors to reward. It must be true because it happened in my case", says Ms. Lask. This practice of the Register of Wills is more insulting when a Petitioner not only loses the right to take care of their family's estate to a stranger unlawfully appointed by the Register, but the Register of Wills will then make you wait 4 months or more before he gets a minute to sign the Decree appointing his political croney. While waiting, property loses value, maintenance, mortgage and utility liens accrue and worse, the heirs lose thousands to the Register's appointed "stranger". Pennsylvania Courts have admonished The Philadelphia Register of Wills for their inept practices.(Brokens,391Pa.Super.21). Ms. Lask's Federal Complaint seeks an injunction to stop the Register from denying Philadelphians' their Constitutional rights before another behind closed-doors decision is made giving away estate money to strangers.

Robert T. Vance, Jr. is a Philadelphia constitutional rights attorney as co-counsel to Ms. Lask.

A PRESS CONFERENCE WILL BE HELD Friday, July 14 2006 at 10 A.M. at the Law Offices of Robert T Vance Jr, 100 South Broad Street, Suite 1530, Philadelphia, PA 19110.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Susan Chana Lask, Esq.
Visit website