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Cardoni & Associates, of Kingston, Pa., will close its doors by the end of the year, sources familiar with the Pennsylvania insurance defense bar say, following federal charges that a Luzerne County Common Pleas judge allegedly accepted the use of a New Jersey beach house owned by the firm’s managing member and improperly ruled in that attorney’s favor in a civil litigation case.

Cardoni & Associates, of Kingston, Pa., will close its doors by the end of the year, sources familiar with the Pennsylvania insurance defense bar say, following federal charges that a Luzerne County Common Pleas judge allegedly accepted the use of a New Jersey beach house owned by the firm’s managing member and improperly ruled in that attorney’s favor in a civil litigation case.

Harry V. Cardoni has been identified by sources and court documents as the attorney who loaned Common Pleas Judge Michael T. Toole the beach house while continuing to litigate before him. One of the ways Toole was alleged to have ruled improperly in that attorney’s favor was in the manner in which Toole oversaw the appointment of a neutral arbitrator in an uninsured/underinsured motorist case the attorney was handling in March 2006, according to a criminal information filed Dec. 2 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Toole is charged with honest services fraud and filing a false tax return. Cardoni has not been charged with any crime. Cardoni could not be reached for comment.

Sources familiar with the Pennsylvania insurance defense bar said Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. has pulled its files in cases where the firm was defending the carrier and that State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. plans to do the same. Representatives of Progressive did not immediately return calls.

A spokesman for State Farm said it’s company policy not to divulge information regarding its “attorney partners or third party contractors.”

Ryan Blazure, a partner in the firm, declined to comment Wednesday on word that the firm would close, but said the firm will soon make an announcement that “would possibly include the future of the firm.”

“I have to say it is a broad-based announcement about who we are and what we’re doing,” Blazure said.

Blazure released a statement the day after federal prosecutors announced Toole’s charges saying the firm was “deeply saddened by the allegations against attorney Cardoni.”

“We are investigating and we will cooperate, if asked, with any investigation, if any,” Blazure said. “We will continue to serve all of our clients as we remain a team of dedicated, good lawyers serving good people.”

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