Tuesday, June 4, 2019
The source of a bar complaint that led to disbarment in California
On December 27, 2017, the State Bar received an anonymous complaint from an employee of respondent's on behalf of a number of employees, alleging that respondent took money out of his client trust accounts and used it for his own personal expenses, while clients and lien holder medical providers were not promptly paid once a client's case settled. The informant did not provide documents or specific client names, but stated that an audit of respondent's client trust accounts at U.S. Bank would reveal the misconduct. The State Bar opened the investigation into this matter and conducted an audit of respondent’s client trust accounts.
With respect to respondent's clients, PH, TD, SF, and LF, the State Bar investigator’s audit of the bank records revealed the following misconduct relating to respondent’s handling of their entrusted funds. (The four clients are only identified by their initials since they did not complain to the State Bar and were not aware of the misconduct.)
The ensuing investigation revealed multiple instances of reckless misappropriation.
Respondent not only filed multiple false and misleading probation reports under penalty of perjury, but he also misappropriated over $230,000.00 from eight different clients in a eight personal injury matters. Although respondent ultimately paid the funds back to all of the affected clients and medical providers, in at least three of the matters, the payments were not prompt. While the misappropriations were reckless, as opposed to intentional, all of the misconduct, which was quite serious, directly related to the member’s law practice and was extensive. During this time, respondent committed multiple probation Violations and made misrepresentation to the State Bar that he was compliant with the conditions of his probation on four occasions when he had not been compliant.