The Law Society of Ontario is warning people that a former paralegal who helped clients fight traffic tickets allegedly continued to offer his services even after his licence was suspended twice and then revoked.
Benito Zappia operated a firm called "We Win or It's Free." Now, the Law Society is taking over the business and warning clients they may no longer be represented in court. It will take custody of all of Zappia's client files and materials.
Zappia's licence was first suspended on Dec. 18, 2019, several months after he was criminally charged in connection with an alleged traffic-ticket fixing case. His licence was then suspended indefinitely on July 10, 2020 and fully revoked earlier this year.
Last month, the court released hearing details in which the Law Society alleged Zappia had continued to accept legal work for new and existing clients and accept retainer payments. The society also accused him of keeping his office, as well as his associated website and phone number, open to the public without notice of his suspension.
In addition, it alleged Zappia provided a compliance report containing false information and failed to cooperate with the society's investigation.
Criminal case still pending
Police charged Zappia in relation to the traffic-ticket fixing scheme in May of 2019. A clerk at the Eglinton Avenue West courthouse, who is accused of altering a number of court documents, was allegedly paid off for doing so. The criminal case is still pending.
Zappia was charged with breach of trust, fraud over $5,000, uttering forged documents and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Bryan Badali, Zappia's defence lawyer, told CBC News in a a phone interview that his client is planning to contest the allegations made against him.
"[He] is looking forward to telling his side of the story at the appropriate time during the court proceedings," Badali said.
The criminal trial has not yet been scheduled.
In the meantime, the Law Society is urging all of Zappia's former and current clients to contact its Trustee Services department by emailing WeWinZappiaTrusteeship@lso.ca or by calling 416-947-3366.
Legal professionals who accepted referral work from Zappia or any "We Win" business after Dec. 18, 2019 are also required to report the matter to the Law Society.