Bowser pal Ben Soto faces court after helping Madam’s organ owner save on taxes – Washington City Paper | Vette Leader


ben soto is a consummate DC insider: he’s the boss of a successful title company, he dabbles in development, he raises money for top politicians (particularly mayors Muriel Bowser), he sits on the board of directors of a prominent local bank and is even a licensed attorney. At least for now.

A highly complex seven-year case snaking through the judicial disciplinary process could have Soto stripped of his license to practice law (temporarily or permanently) after court investigators allege he improperly altered documents to owe a client about $12,000 in a tax bill save up . The details are bafflingly dull, but the case happens to involve one of the city’s most well-known bars: Madam’s Organ in Adams Morgan, which was at the heart of the real estate transaction that landed Soto in hot water.

The DC Board on Professional Responsibility, which decides on complaints against attorneys, issued a report Wednesday recommending that Soto have his license suspended for violating ethics rules for six months (essentially alleging he had been dealing lied to other lawyers in this case). That won’t be the final word, however, as the DC Court of Appeals will make the final call after hearing more arguments from Soto and the court’s Disciplinary Advisor’s Office, which is investigating the matter and prosecuting cases before the BPR. Lawyers there would rather see Soto dismissed from the Bar altogether.

Soto and his lawyers admit he made some mistakes in the process, but they say he was innocent. It would be a blow to Soto’s Premium Title & Escrow company if he were off duty for six months, and pretty bad for business if he were called a liar in court, so he’s advocating a full dismissal of those charges. It would also avoid bad press for Bowser (who has already endured a Soto scandal after his efforts at FreshPAC drew a lot of attention in 2015).

“What happened here was not done with malicious intent and no one is claiming that,” he says Peter Kolker, Soto’s attorney in the case. “It was just a communication problem.”

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