MAGAZINE
California Lawyer

DISBARMENT

Mark S. Brown, State Bar #225511, Los Alamitos (October 2, 2013). Brown, 48, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Brown was charged with 13 counts of misconduct that included failing to competently perform legal services, failing to communicate with a client, improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to render appropriate accounts, and failing to return client papers. The order took effect November 1, 2013
Diane B. Carey, State Bar #171543, Los Angeles (September 19, 2013). Carey, 54, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, commingling funds, failing to report judicial sanctions, failing to obey court orders, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude.

Carey maintained a client trust account (CTA) at one bank and a general operating account at another. To generate short-term funds for her own use, Carey would write checks on her general operating account—usually against insufficient funds—and deposit those funds into her CTA. She would then use the bank’s courtesy policy to withdraw cash from the CTA before the bank realized the deposited check had bounced. The process involved commingling that amounted to misappropriation, and Carey used it numerous times. Once, when one of her clients was ordered to pay $4,600 in sanctions, Carey paid the sum from her personal funds because she had failed to maintain the required amount in her CTA.

In a second matter, in January 2012 Carey became the attorney of record for a client in a marital dissolution proceeding. However, she failed to appear at a hearing, and the court ordered her to pay sanctions. She failed to do so, and she also failed to report the sanctions to the State Bar.

In aggravation, Carey had a record of prior discipline. Also, she committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed her clients. In mitigation, Carey cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation, repaid all the misappropriated funds, and presented witnesses who testified to her good character. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Ulysses L. Cook, Jr., State Bar #68779, Los Angeles (September 19, 2013). Cook, 67, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He had been charged with failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Cook had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Jon A. Divens, State Bar #145549, Beverly Hills (September 26, 2013). Divens, 58, was disbarred for committing acts involving moral turpitude.

In 2009 Divens was hired as an escrow agent to hold a collateralized mortgage obligation (CMO) sold for $60 million by Betts and Gambles Investments Inc. (B&G) to Up Right Holdings LLC (URH). Though the parties lacked a formal escrow agreement, B&G transferred the investment vehicle to Divens’s business services account. Divens claimed he was later approached by the principal of URH and told to place the CMO in a trading program, investing its assets to generate profits.

When URH failed to obtain financing to complete the purchase, B&G demanded that Divens return the CMO, contending that it never consented to investing the funds. When Divens refused, B&G filed a civil fraud action against him and obtained a judgment for $60 million.

Divens then began surreptitiously transferring the CMO in an effort to keep B&G from locating it. During this time, Divens obtained monthly interest from the assets totaling about $250,000, which he used for his personal benefit. In 2010 a district court ordered that the CMO be transferred back to B&G, and found that the interest generated by the investments rightfully belonged to B&G. Divens appealed the decision, which was later affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.

In aggravation, Divens committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed his clients. He also demonstrated a lack of recognition of his misconduct. In mitigation, Divens had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1990. The order took effect October 26, 2013

Aaron M. Ellis, State Bar #248862, Whittier (September 25, 2013). Ellis, 33, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to take steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to his client after termination of employment, failing to render appropriate accounts, making false representations, failing to notify opposing counsel that he was not entitled to practice law, and committing an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In 2010 a client hired Ellis to represent him in an uncontested marital dissolution, paying Ellis $2,100 in advance fees and $400 in filing fees. Ellis filed the needed documents, but the court eventually returned them due to certain deficiencies. Ellis told his client that he had corrected the deficiencies, when he had not. He subsequently closed his law office without completing the divorce matter. His client requested an accounting, but Ellis failed to provide one.

In 2012 Ellis was suspended from the practice of law. During his suspension, he represented a client in another marital dissolution. He did not inform opposing counsel that he had been suspended and was not entitled to practice law. Moreover, he submitted a declaration under penalty of perjury that he had complied with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court, when he knew he had not done so.

In aggravation, Ellis had a record of prior discipline, and he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed his clients. In mitigation, Ellis cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect October 25, 2013

Gregory S. Emerson, State Bar #205053, Studio City (September 26, 2013). Emerson, 43, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Emerson had been charged with failing to obey court orders, failing to report judicial sanctions, and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary proceeding. The order took effect October 26, 2013
Robert F. Graham, State Bar #76589, Chula Vista (September 25, 2013). Graham, 63, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He had been charged with failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect October 25, 2013
Francis A. Jones, State Bar #204596, Long Beach (September 25, 2013). Jones, 48, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He had been charged with failing to competently perform legal services, failing to refund unearned fees, failing to release a file, and failing to cooperate in a State Bar investigation. The order took effect October 25, 2013
Mark H. Galyean, State Bar #220617, San Pedro (October 2, 2013). Galyean, 45, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He was charged with failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Galyean had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect November 1, 2013

Marta Kempton, State Bar #129035, Orinda (September 25, 2013). Kempton, 58, was disbarred following her conviction for violating Penal Code § 550(b)(1) (insurance fraud), a felony involving moral turpitude. The conviction is now final, and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect October 25, 2013
Nancy B. Marmol, State Bar #87790, San Francisco (September 19, 2013). Marmol, 67, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to respond to reasonable status inquiries, making false statements, failing to maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating funds, failing to return client files, failing to refund unearned fees, and committing acts of moral turpitude. In addition, Marmol was required to pay restitution to her clients.

In aggravation, Marmol engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed her clients. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Dionne Mateos, State Bar #205959, Whittier (September 19, 2013). Mateos, 41, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), failing to refund unearned fees, failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding, and engaging in acts of moral turpitude. There were ten matters involving similar conduct that warranted discipline.

In aggravation, Mateos had a record of prior discipline, and she engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed her clients. In mitigation, Mateos cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Kimberly L. McAlpin, State Bar #124814, Manhattan Beach (September 19, 2013). Kimberly L. MCAlpin, State Bar # 124814, Manhattan Beach (September 19). McAlpin, 53, was disbarred for failing participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so, and for failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In April 2012 the State Bar served McAlpin with a notice of hearing following her conviction for violating Vehicle Code § 14601.1(a), driving while a license is revoked or suspended, a misdemeanor that may or may not involve moral turpitude. She failed to appear at the hearing. The State Bar then served a notice of disciplinary charges for disobeying a court order, and notified McAlpin that her failure to appear at trial would result in a disbarment recommendation. McAlpin again failed to appear, resulting in the entry of her default.

In aggravation, McAlpin had a record of prior discipline. In 2011 she was suspended for 90 days and placed on three years of probation in connection with two DUI convictions. While she was on probation, she was convicted of a third DUI and sentenced to jail. Although her conduct did not involve moral turpitude, it nevertheless warranted the imposition of discipline. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Sung Il Oh, State Bar #201634, West Covina (October 2, 2013). Oh, 49, was disbarred for failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court, and failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In aggravation, Oh had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect November 1, 2013

Samuel S. Prendez, Jr., State Bar #249192, Sacramento (October 2, 2013). Prendez, 35, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In 2011 Prendez was convicted in four separate criminal matters: violating Vehicle Code § 23103 pursuant to § 23103.5 (alcohol-related reckless driving); violating Penal Code § 591 (obstructing a utility line); violating Penal Code § 148(a)(1) (resisting arrest) and § 242 (battery); and violating Penal Code § 166(a)(4) (contempt of court for violating a restraining order).

In February 2012 the State Bar filed and properly served two notices of hearing on the four consolidated disciplinary cases. Prendez failed to respond to the notices, and he did not seek to have his default set aside or vacated in any of the cases. The order took effect November 1, 2013

Christine M. Seyler, State Bar #171755, Garden Grove (September 25, 2013). Seyler, 52, was disbarred for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline, and failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In aggravation, Seyler had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, at the time of her misconduct Seyler suffered extreme emotional and physical difficulties. The order took effect October 25, 2013

Jason R. Walsh, State Bar #158471, Riverside (September 19, 2013). Walsh, 46, was disbarred for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline, and failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In aggravation, Walsh had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Lawrence R. Young, State Bar #38323, Los Angeles (September 26, 2013). Young, 74, was disbarred for accepting fees from a nonclient, failing to render appropriate accounts, failing to return unearned fees, and committing acts involving moral turpitude.

In November 2010 Young was assigned by the Defenders Law Group to supervise the representation of a criminal defendant. Because Young was about to be suspended from the practice of law for six months, he hired another attorney to represent the client. To avoid the requirement that he notify the courts and opposing counsel of his suspension, Young planned to substitute the contract lawyer as attorney of record on all of his active cases. The contract lawyer later claimed that he had substituted into the client’s matter, but there was no evidence indicating he had done so.

By May 2011 the client’s mother had paid Young $6,900 in attorneys fees. However, Young did not receive the client’s written consent to the billing arrangement. Although Young later claimed that he only went to meetings with the client to take notes, the client’s mother testified that he was an active participant at the meetings, talking and giving advice. The client’s mother was never aware that Young had been suspended from practicing law. Young failed to provide the client or his mother with the required written notice of his suspension.

In July 2011 the client’s mother terminated Young’s services and requested a refund. Young did not respond to the request and never provided an accounting.

In aggravation, Young had a record of prior discipline. He engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing, and the State Bar had additional evidence of uncharged misconduct. In mitigation, Young entered into an extensive stipulation. The order took effect October 26, 2013

SUSPENSION

Marlon M. Alo, State Bar #143338, Seal Beach (September 19, 2013). Alo, 55, was suspended for six months and placed on three years of probation following his conviction for making harassing telephone calls, a misdemeanor that may or may not involve moral turpitude.

In 2009 Alo began repeatedly calling a woman who had worked for him as a consultant two years before, leaving voice messages and claiming he was in love with her. The woman sent him a letter asking that he not contact her, but he continued to do so. Eventually, the Laguna Beach Police Department warned Alo not to contact the woman again, and arrested him when he did.

In July 2011 the Orange County District Attorney’s office charged Alo with one count of violating Penal Code § 653m(b), making annoying phone calls. The next month he was charged with ten counts of violating Penal Code § 653m(a), making harassing phone calls. A trial court later issued a restraining order against Alo, who pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of making harassing phone calls.

In November 2011 Alo resumed calling the woman, in violation of the restraining order, and attempted to go to her apartment. He was charged again with making harassing phone calls, and he pleaded guilty to another misdemeanor count.

From February to March 2012, Alo again violated the restraining order by calling the woman. He was arrested and charged with multiple counts of disobeying a criminal protective order; he pleaded guilty to one count.

In aggravation, Alo’s misconduct harmed the woman, and he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Alo had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1989. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Thaddeus J. Culpepper, State Bar #220194, Pasadena (September 26, 2013). Culpepper, 39, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, and failing to return client papers.

In October 2010 a client paid Culpepper $500 in advance fees to represent him in a lawsuit. The case had already been filed and was in default, so Culpepper was retained to prove up the default, obtain a judgment, and collect it.

However, Culpepper failed to appear at a mandatory order to show cause hearing, and at a later continuance. As a result, he failed to obtain a default judgment and the client’s action was dismissed. When the client learned of the dismissal, Culpepper filed a motion to have it set aside. The dismissal was set aside, but Culpepper never filed the necessary declaration and documentation.

In April 2011 the client terminated Culpepper’s employment, requesting that he refund the $500 advance fee and return his file. Culpepper failed to comply.

In aggravation, Culpepper had a record of prior discipline, and he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his client. In mitigation, Culpepper performed volunteer work and community service activities. The order took effect October 26, 2013

Jonathan R. Ellowitz, State Bar #86234, Lake Forest (October 2, 2013). Ellowitz, 67, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for practicing law in jurisdictions where he was not admitted to practice, failing to competently perform legal services, accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), and failing to return unearned fees. There were three other matters involving conduct warranting discipline.

In aggravation, Ellowitz committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his clients, and he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, Ellowitz had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1979, and he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect November 1, 2013

Lewis S. Goldblatt, State Bar #90674, Gilroy (September 25, 2013). Gilroy, 60, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for misconduct in another jurisdiction. The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel (OCDC) for the Supreme Court of Missouri audited Goldblatt’s client trust account, and determined that his accounting was deficient in numerous ways. Goldblatt did not maintain a client ledger, did not perform monthly trust account reconciliations, and did not monitor or supervise activity in the account.

In June 2010 Goldblatt was hired by 18 plaintiffs to represent them in a real estate matter; he was paid a flat fee of $100,000. He filed a lawsuit on their behalf, and the plaintiffs paid him a total of $120,070. Goldblatt informed the plaintiffs that the additional amount was for fees incurred in the case. However, the OCDC audit revealed that Goldblatt had failed to keep trust account records, including receipts, payments, and income balances.

One month later Goldblatt was hired by 29 clients to represent them in another matter; he charged them a fee of $100,000 as well. When the OCDC audited Gold­blatt, they found that he had failed to keep proper account records.

In aggravation, Goldblatt committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, he had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1979. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect October 25, 2013

Stephen F. Guiner, State Bar #44495, San Gabriel (September 19, 2013). Guiner, 73, was suspended for one year and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly release client files upon termination of employment, failing to render appropriate accounts, and failing to participate in a disciplinary investigation.

In December 2008, Guiner was hired by a client to resolve issues related to his inherited estate, including Medi-Cal claims for unpaid medical services provided to his father, the deceased. Medi-Cal sought repayment of approximately $123,214, plus interest, from the estate’s beneficiaries. The client paid Guiner $3,000 in advance fees.

Over the next several months Guiner researched issues pertaining to the estate. But he failed to complete the necessary filings and failed to resolve the Medi-Cal balance, which by the following August had increased to $134,096. Guiner apologized to the client for his lack of communication, but he never resolved the Medi-Cal bill.

In aggravation, Guiner had a record of prior discipline, and he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his client. Also, Guiner demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, Guiner presented evidence of his good character. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Gregory T. Highnote, State Bar #144627, San Diego (September 19, 2013). Highnote, 50, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for engaging in misconduct in another jurisdiction, including acts of moral turpitude.

In March 2007 a client hired Highnote to represent her in a marital dissolution matter in Hawaii, where Highnote is also licensed to practice. However, Highnote repeatedly requested continuances, and the client ultimately terminated him from employment. A new attorney substituted into the matter, but Highnote would not return a signed substitution of attorney form after requests to do so. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel in Hawaii also attempted to contact Highnote regarding the matter, but he failed to reply. Eventually, in 2012, Highnote claimed that he found the client’s file and sent her the signed substitution form. The Hawaii Supreme Court ordered that Highnote be disciplined for his misconduct.

In a second matter, in July 2012 Highnote was suspended from the practice of law in California for failing to comply with the State Bar’s minimum continuing legal education requirements. However, he continued to represent a client in a bankruptcy matter: He engaged in negotiations, prepared court documents, and appeared at hearings. He did not inform opposing counsel or the court that he was not entitled to practice at the time.

In aggravation, Highnote had a record of prior discipline, and he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed his clients. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Jiyoung Kym, State Bar #125974, Los Angeles (September 25, 2013). Kym, 62, was suspended for 90 days and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to inform a client of significant developments, disobeying court orders, filing an adversary complaint without just cause, and failing to report the imposition of sanctions.

Kym represented a client and his company, Atex Corp., in several matters. In one matter, Kym filed an answer to a complaint filed against his client, and a cross-complaint against the plaintiff for breach of contract and fraud. Kym then failed to respond to discovery requests despite numerous extensions granted by the opposing party. Kym also failed to comply with the court’s order compelling discovery responses from his clients, and failed to appear at scheduled hearings or communicate with his client. Consequently, the court imposed $7,040 in total sanctions and dismissed his client’s cross-complaint against the plaintiff. Ultimately, the court entered a $408,106 judgment against the client. Kym neither attempted to set aside the judgment nor informed his client of the court’s rulings on the motions, the sanctions, dismissal of the cross-complaint, or the judgment. Kym made partial payment of $500 with respect to the sanctions.

In several other matters where Kym also represented the client and Atex Corp., the cases were ultimately dismissed due to his failure to prosecute. In all of the matters, Kym failed to appear in court, leading to the imposition of monetary sanctions against him. Kym never informed the client that the actions were dismissed.

In aggravation, Kym committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused significant harm to his clients. Moreover, his failure to report the sanctions to the State Bar permitted him to continue to practice law by avoiding potential discipline. In mitigation, Kym had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1986. He acknowledged his poor judgment, stipulated to misconduct early in the proceedings, and demonstrated remorse. Also, at the time of his misconduct he experienced marital and family problems. The order took effect October 25, 2013

Brian R. Linnekens, State Bar #206144, Los Angeles (September 19, 2013). Linnekens, 41, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for the unauthorized practice of law in another jurisdiction, and for requesting and accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of California Civil Code § 2944.7(a).

Between March 2010 and March 2011, Linnekens performed legal services related to loan modification matters for 46 residents of Washington state, where he was not licensed to practice law. He collected advance fees related to those services, which he later refunded. There were other matters involving misconduct warranting discipline.

In aggravation, Linnekens engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed his clients. In mitigation, Linnekens had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1999. He cooperated by entering a stipulation, and provided restitution to his clients. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Andrea S. Loveless, State Bar #231735, Irvine (September 25, 2013). Loveless, 35, was suspended for six months and placed on three yeas of probation for practicing law in a jurisdiction where he was not admitted to practice, and accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of California Civil Code § 2944.7(a). There were eleven matters involving 22 separate acts of misconduct warranting discipline.

In aggravation, Loveless had a record of prior discipline, and she engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed her clients. In mitigation, Loveless cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect October 25, 2013

James C. Mitchell, State Bar #87151, San Diego (September 26, 2013). Mitchell, 62, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for failing competently perform legal services, disobeying a court order, and failing to return client papers.

In October 2009 Mitchell was hired to defend a client and his company in a fee-collection lawsuit brought by Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, and to file a cross-complaint alleging legal malpractice. The client was on the board of his company and a 51 percent shareholder. The next month Luce Forward served Mitchell with various discovery requests, but he did not reply. As a result, Luce filed motions to compel sanctions and answers to the discovery requests. In response, Mitchell filed the cross-complaint and an opposition to the discovery motions. Nonetheless, the court granted Luce Forward’s motions and ordered the defendant to answer the discovery requests.

In April 2010 Mitchell sent Luce Forward some responses, but not others. He also did not pay the monetary sanctions. The court later granted a demurrer to his cross-complaint, but Mitchell repeatedly failed to appear at hearings. As a result, the court ordered Mitchell and his client to pay additional sanctions. Eventually, a default judgment was entered against the client for $265,127.

In March 2011 Mitchell finally paid the sanctions ordered against him. The client retained new counsel and requested that Mitchell turn over his file, but Mitchell failed to do so.

In aggravation, Mitchell engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed his client. In mitigation, he had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1979. The order took effect October 26, 2013

Lee Sik No, State Bar #249092, Newport Beach (September 26, 2013). No, 34, was suspended for six months and placed on three years of probation for accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of California Civil Code § 2944.7(a), failing to competently perform legal services, failing to respond promptly to reasonable status inquiries, failing to refund unearned fees, failing to cooperate in disciplinary proceedings, committing an act involving moral turpitude, and violating rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In aggravation, No had a record of prior discipline: He committed eleven acts of misconduct in three client matters. In mitigation, No entered into a stipulation with the State Bar. The order took effect October 26, 2013

Wahida Noorzad, State Bar #200622, Pleasanton (September 25, 2013). Noorzad, 42, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation for accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of California Civil Code § 2944.7(a), and failing to deposit advance fees into a client trust account.

In aggravation, Noorzad committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed her clients. In mitigation, Noorzad had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1999. Also, she entered into a stipulation and presented evidence of her good character. The order took effect October 25, 2013

Sameer A. Qadri, State Bar #276011, Claremont (August 28, 2013). Qadri, 28, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), failing to competently perform legal services, and practicing law in a jurisdiction where he was not authorized to do so. There were four matters warranting discipline.

In aggravation, Qadri engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his clients. The order took effect September 27, 2013

Christopher A. Radlinski, State Bar #82563, Temecula (September 19, 2013). Radlinski, 60, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for charging and collecting an illegal fee, and failing to promptly pay client funds.

In July 2010 Radlinski was hired by a married couple to file and handle their Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Radlinski filed a Chapter 13 petition on their behalf, and then charged the couple another $500 in fees in February 2011 to convert the bankruptcy into a Chapter 7 petition. Radlinski did not disclose to the bankruptcy court that he had charged a $500 fee, nor receive the bankruptcy court’s approval to do so. Radlinski later advised the husband to apply for bankruptcy relief for his company as well. Radlinski handled the filings and charged $299. The husband later decided not to pursue corporate bankruptcy and requested that Radlinski return some of the advance fees, but he did not do so. Although Radlinski maintained that he had earned the money he received, he later refunded all attorneys fees and filing fees to the clients.

In aggravation, Radlinski had a record of prior discipline, and he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Radlinski acknowledged his misconduct early in the proceedings, and provided letters attesting to his good character. The order took effect October 19, 2013

Verna J. Ross, State Bar #165744, Oakland (September 11, 2013). Ross, 58, was suspended for one year and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to update her official membership records, and committing acts of moral turpitude.

In May 2008 Ross filed a petition for letters of administration in the estate of a deceased Eritrean on behalf of his mother, who lived in Oakland. The petition stated that the deceased’s estate consisted of $175,000 in a U.S. bank account. Under penalty of perjury, Ross claimed that she had attempted to serve the deceased’s widow with the petition but could not reach her, and therefore would deposit her half of the estate in probate. The mother was appointed administrator of the estate, and the entire $175,000 was placed in a blocked account.

Ross was later able to locate the widow with the help of the U.S. Embassy in Eritrea. As a result, Ross was responsible for delivering $80,000 to the widow, but she failed to do so. Ross also did not update her address in State Bar membership records, making it difficult for the bar to contact her regarding the matter. Only after the widow hired an attorney to help recover the funds did Ross deliver the check.

In aggravation, Ross had a record of prior discipline, and her misconduct significantly harmed the widow. Also, she demonstrated a lack of insight and remorse for her wrongdoing. In mitigation, during the time of her misconduct Ross experienced extreme emotional and physical difficulties. The order took effect October 11, 2013

David A. Silva, State Bar #149506, Fresno (September 25, 2013). Silva, 57, was suspended for three years and placed on five years of probation for failing to timely comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In aggravation, Silva had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, no clients were harmed by Silva’s misconduct, and he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect October 25, 2013

Zachary A. Toran, State Bar #267822, San Francisco (September 19, 2013). Toran, 32, was suspended for six months and placed on three years of probation following his misdemeanor conviction for disturbing the peace. The facts and circumstances surrounding his conviction involved moral turpitude, which warranted discipline.

In October 2011 Toran found a diamond bracelet in San Francisco and took it to a local jeweler, who appraised its worth as between $5,000 and $7,000. Toran was unaware that the bracelet’s owner had reported the loss to the police department and had sent email and a photo of the lost bracelet to jewelry stores and pawn shops, indicating that she was willing to buy it back. The jeweler showed Toran the email, and gave him the owner’s telephone number and email address. Toran contacted the owner and spoke with her. Their conversations left her with a clear impression that Toran would not return the bracelet unless she gave him $5,000.

The owner contacted the police department, which conducted a sting operation. Toran first agreed to meet the owner at a library, but then changed the location because he noticed “strange” men lurking behind the bushes. He was concerned that the owner had come with others who intended to rob him.

The exchange eventually took place in Toran’s car. Immediately afterward, plainclothes officers moved in with guns drawn and conducted a felony stop. Toran threw money out of the car and screamed, “Don’t shoot me!” The officers arrested Toran.

Later that month Toran was charged in a felony complaint with violating Penal Code § 524 (attempted extortion); § 496 (receiving or buying stolen property); § 487(a) (grand theft of personal property); and § 487(c) (grand theft person).

In January 2012 Toran pleaded nolo contendere to violating Penal Code § 415(2) (disturbing the peace), a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation, two days in county jail with credit for time served, and required to pay a $120 fine.

In mitigation, Toran’s honest but mistaken belief that he was receiving a reward for returning the bracelet, as well as his fear that the owner had set him up to be mugged, were reasonable. Moreover, Toran presented evidence of his good character and expressed remorse for his misconduct. He was unaware he was legally obligated to return the bracelet to the owner. The order took effect October 28, 2013

Debra R. Torres-Reyes, State Bar #146724, Spring Valley (October 29, 2012). Torres-Reyes, 59, was suspended for six months and placed on three years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Torres-Reyes had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect October 28, 2013

PROBATION

Richard D. Ackerman, State Bar #171900, Riverside (August 28, 2013). Ackerman, 44, was placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, and failing to promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries.

In aggravation, Ackerman engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused his client significant harm. In mitigation, Ackerman had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1994, and he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect September 27, 2013

Gayle A. Gutekunst, State Bar #91826, San Francisco (September 25, 2013). Gutekunst, 62, was placed on two years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Gutekunst had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, Gutekunst cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect October 25, 2013

Zachary B. Reber, State Bar #241534, Sacramento (October 29, 2012). Reber, 37, was placed on four years of probation for sharing legal fees with a nonlawyer, failing to competently perform legal services, and engaging in the practice of law while enrolled as inactive.

Reber was hired to perform legal work for My US Legal, a company owned in part by nonattorneys. Homeowners hired the company to file predatory-lender lawsuits, paying My US Legal advance fees in monthly installments. The company then hired contract attorneys, who were paid $250 a month per client to handle the lawsuits.

Prior to January 2010 Reber received $1,250 in contract attorney fees from My US Legal. However, he failed to competently perform legal services, failed to earn any portion of the fees, and failed to refund the fees.

From April through October 2010 My US Legal paid Reber a total of $21,000 to handle predatory-lender lawsuits. The amount constituted impermissible fee splitting with a nonattorney. Moreover, Reber failed to perform any work of value on behalf of the homeowners and did not earn the $21,000. In October 2010 the state Attorney General sued My US Legal, which later filed for bankruptcy.

In aggravation, Reber engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused significant harm to his clients. In mitigation, Reber had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 2006. He cooperated in the disciplinary proceedings and displayed remorse for his misconduct. The order took effect October 28, 2013

Steven O. Sorensen, State Bar #270477, Yucaipa (September 25, 2013). Sorensen, 35, was placed on two years of probation for misconduct warranting discipline.

In February 2012 Sorensen was charged with violating Vehicle Code § 23152(a) and (b) (driving under the influence of alcohol), and § 20002 (hit and run), after police found him intoxicated and in possession of keys to a vehicle seen hitting a parked car and driving off. In July 2012 Sorensen pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, a misdemeanor.

In mitigation, Sorensen had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 2010, and he provided letters attesting to his good character. The order took effect October 25, 2013

There are no recent disciplinary actions of this type.