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November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014

DISBARMENT

Toni L. Christiani, State Bar #202884, San Diego (March 24, 2014). Christiani, 47, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. She was charged with one count of misconduct for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline. The order took effect April 23, 2014
Gary Lane, State Bar #50960, Irvine (March 12, 2014). Lane, 68, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, receiving advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), aiding and abetting the unauthorized practice of law, failing to communicate, misleading a judge, scheming to collect illegal fees, improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to render appropriate accounts, failing to return unearned fees, and committing acts involving moral turpitude. He was charged in 16 client matters.

Lane was engaged in the loan modification practice in March 2009 when the Legislature enacted SB 94 (codified as Civ. Code §§ 2944.6 and 2944.7). Thereafter, instead of performing conventional loan modifications, Lane told clients that he needed to file a lawsuit on their behalf to protect their rights.

In June 2009 a client hired Lane’s company, Consumer Protection Legal Services (CPLS), to represent her in a civil action. The client paid Lane $3,000 in advance fees, and later paid him an additional $2,000. CPLS filed a complaint, but when the opposing party moved to dismiss the lawsuit, Lane failed to file a response and the defendant’s motion was granted. The court deemed the suit frivolous and completely without merit, meaning Lane did not earn any of the charged fees.

Lane failed to timely inform his client that the case had been dismissed. The client later requested a refund, but Lane returned only $995, and he failed to provide an accounting.

In a second matter, in June 2009 a client hired CPLS for home loan modification services. The client paid CPLS $2,995 in advance fees. CPLS filed a civil action against the lender, who responded with a demurrer and a motion to strike portions of the complaint. CPLS failed to respond and failed to appear at a hearing, causing the court to sustain the demurrer.

The court later dismissed the action entirely. CPLS then filed a second complaint, but the court again sustained a demurrer against the plaintiff. After the lender moved for sanctions, the court ordered sanctions of $3,000. CPLS failed to provide a loan modification for the client, and failed to earn any of its fees. There were 14 other matters involving misconduct warranting discipline.

In aggravation, Lane committed multiple acts of misconduct that significantly harmed his clients. He demonstrated little recognition or understanding of his wrongdoing. Also, he showed indifference toward rectification of or atonement for the consequences of his misconduct. In mitigation, Lane had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1972. He cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect April 11, 2014

SUSPENSION

Scott M. Currey, State Bar #242320, Dixon (March 24, 2014). Currey, 41, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In January 2012 Currey received a private reproval and was ordered to comply with the conditions attached for a period of two years. However, Currey failed to timely submit a quarterly report to the Office of Probation, and he failed to make monthly restitution payments to a former client.

In aggravation, Currey had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Currey cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect April 23, 2014

Steven C. Feldman, State Bar #103676, Laguna Niguel (February 27, 2014). Feldman, 60, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for practicing law in a jurisdiction where he was not licensed, charging illegal fees, receiving advance fees for a loan modification matter in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), and failing to return unearned fees.

In September 2008 a Florida resident employed Feldman and paid him $3,995 in advance fees to provide legal services in connection with a loan modification matter. Feldman was not authorized to practice law in Florida. Despite this, Feldman gave legal advice and performed legal services in Florida, which constituted the unauthorized practice of law. Feldman also failed to later refund the client’s advance fees. There were nine other matters involving similar misconduct warranting discipline.

In aggravation, Feldman committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Feldman had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1982. Also, he cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings and expressed remorse for his misconduct. He sought advice from experts in loan modification matters who suggested he acted in good faith, and he also presented character witnesses. The order took effect March 29, 2014

William A. Miller, State Bar #98426, Hughson (February 27, 2014). Miller, 32, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation for making misrepresentations to the court, failing to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation, and committing an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In July 2011 Miller substituted into criminal proceedings, representing the defendant. At the time, the proceedings had been put on hold to determine the defendant’s competency. A court-appointed expert opined that the client was competent to stand trial. At the trial-readiness conference, Miller requested a continuance because his supposed expert witness was not available. However, at no time did Miller retain the expert in his client’s case. Moreover, Miller knew that the statements he made to the court were false. Nevertheless, the court continued the matter.

On separate occasions Miller made numerous other representations to the court that he knew were false, including stating that his expert would be available for trial on a certain date, and that the expert would testify that his client was incompetent to stand trial. Miller later admitted that he never retained an expert and that his purported expert had not spoken with his client.

In aggravation, Miller had a record of prior discipline. Also, he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed the administration of justice. In mitigation, Miller cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect March 29, 2014

David S. Silber, State Bar #176377, Nevada City (March 30, 2014). Silber, 55, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In November 2011 Silber was placed on two years of probation and ordered to comply with the conditions attached. However, Silber failed to timely file quarterly reports with the Office of Probation, failed to provide proof of attendance at the State Bar Ethics School, and failed to timely develop an adequate law office management plan; his initial plan was rejected by the Office of Probation for numerous deficiencies. Silber later submitted an amended plan, which was approved after it was due. Finally, Silber was required to obtain psychiatric or psychological treatment from a licensed professional, but he failed to do so.

In aggravation, Silber had a record of prior discipline. Also, he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, during the period of his misconduct Silber was experiencing family problems. The order took effect April 19, 2014

Charles R. Wear, State Bar #102381, Moreno Valley (February 27, 2014). Wear, 64, was suspended for one year for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In July 2012 the California Supreme Court placed Wear on probation and ordered him to comply with certain conditions. However, Wear failed to provide the Office of Probation with proof that he had completed the State Bar Ethics School or attended its Client Trust Accounting School.

In aggravation, Wear had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. The order took effect March 29, 2014

Thaddeus Z. Wolny, State Bar #119113, Pittsburg (February 27, 2014). Wolny, 63, was suspended for six months and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, failing to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation, and failing to timely comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In February 2012 Wolny was hired by a client to file and prosecute a bankruptcy petition. The client paid Wolny $1,325 in advance fees. From June to September 2012 the client attempted to contact Wolny but was unable to do so. The following month the client terminated Wolny’s services. Wolny finally responded to the client, and he promised to refund the advance fees. Wolny did not provide any legal services, and he failed to refund the advance fees until July 2013. When a State Bar investigator sent Wolny a letter, he failed to reply.

In a second matter, in July 2013 the California Supreme Court issued an order requiring Wolny to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Wolny received the order and filed a compliance declaration, which was rejected. After the original deadline had passed, he filed a second compliance declaration that was accepted.

In aggravation, Wolny had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed his client. In mitigation, Wolny cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect March 29, 2014

PROBATION

Michael P. Caruso, State Bar #248821, San Diego (February 27, 2014). Caruso, 43, was placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, failing to promptly disburse client funds, and failing to deposit client funds into a trust account.

In aggravation, Caruso committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed his clients. In mitigation, during the period of his misconduct Caruso suffered from a serious medical condition that affected his ability to run his law firm. The order took effect March 29, 2014

There are no recent disciplinary actions of this type.