Share

Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on Linked In Share this by Email
 
Suspensions/Probation

Below is a list of 26 attorneys who were suspended and/or placed on suspension by the State Bar as a result of misconduct. The list covers Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, 2016.

  1. DAVID ROBERT COHN
  2. GEOFFREY L. TAYLOR
  3. BARRY STEVEN JORGENSEN
  4. CARLOS MARTINEZCOUOH
  5. JEFFREY THOMAS BOLSON
  6. WILLIAM ROBERT COHEN
  7. EDWARD WILLIAM PACHECO
  8. VERNE CRAIG SCHOLL
  9. HERCHEL MCCOY SIMS
  10. TIFFANY CARRIE STEVENS
  11. MARK ALAN WIESENTHAL
  12. ALLISON CHRISTINE WORDEN
  13. DONALD WILLIAM MCVAY
  14. WILLIAM STEPHEN TOMASI
  15. QIN ZHANG
  16. DENNIS EARL BRAUN
  17. MARK DAVID GREENBERG
  18. MICHAEL ARTHUR PINA
  19. TONYA RONEE SUMMERVILLE
  20. ERIC MARTIN SIPPEL
  21. GERALD HOWARD STERNBERG
  22. ANDREA JEAN PFLUG
  23. ERIC RAYMOND RASMUSSEN
  24. PHILLIPS RANTA SWEET
  25. JILL BOBBETTE SHIGUT
  26. TONYA RONEE SUMMERVILLE

DAVID ROBERT COHN [#180071], 52, of Trabuco Canyon, was suspended from the practice of law for two years and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was also placed on three years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 4, 2016.

In November 2015, Cohn pleaded guilty to deceit or collusion by an attorney, a misdemeanor. Cohn made alterations to a psychosexual evaluation of his client in a criminal matter, including changing the date to make it more current and changing sentences to make the report more flattering towards his client.

GEOFFREY L. TAYLOR [#108697], 59, of Marina del Rey, was suspended from the practice of law for two years and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was also placed on three years’ probation and faces a three-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 4, 2016.

Between Jan. 14 and April 30, 2014, Taylor misappropriated $33,302.30 in his client funds received in a settlement related to a car accident. His client asked Taylor to hold the money in his trust account while she negotiated with a hospital over her bill. Instead, Taylor wrote checks to himself, allowing his client trust account balance to fall to $32.50.

In mitigation, Taylor had no prior record of discipline, paid the client the settlement and all of her outstanding medical bills prior to the State Bar initiating proceedings, voluntarily enrolled in Ethics School and Trust Accounting School, demonstrated remorse and recognition of his wrongdoing, was suffering from personal problems at the time of his misconduct, presented evidence of his good character and entered into a prefiling stipulation with the State Bar.

BARRY STEVEN JORGENSEN [#79620], 70, of Diamond Bar, was suspended from the practice of law for six months and until he makes restitution. If he remains suspended for two years or more, he must provide proof of his rehabilitation. He was also ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and take the MPRE. In addition, he was placed on two years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 11, 2016.

A hearing judge found Jorgensen culpable of sharing fees with a non-attorney and collecting illegal advanced fees for loan modification services in one matter. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel appealed, arguing that Jorgensen was culpable of charges in four other loan modification matters.

A three-judge review panel found that the hearing judge erred in her culpability findings and found more factors in aggravation. Jorgensen engaged in misconduct in five matters, including violating loan modification laws, aiding in the unauthorized practice of law and engaging in fee sharing.

In its decision the panel noted that Jorgensen “exploited his clients’ financial desperation and his fiduciary position” by charging and collecting illegal advance fees and by not providing refunds.

Jorgensen was ordered to pay $61,635 plus interest in restitution.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline, stipulated to some facts and his culpability and has done volunteer service.

CARLOS MARTINEZCOUOH [#188126], 50, of Inglewood, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 4, 2016.

MartinezCouoh stipulated to his culpability in one client matter. In March 2011, he was hired to represent a woman in her divorce matter. He filed a proof of summons on his client’s husband but did not include an address where he was served, and it was rejected by the court. He also filed a request for judgment, two proposed judgments and declaration for default of uncontested dissolution, all of which were deficient and rejected by the court.

In addition, MartinezCouoh stopped doing work on his client’s case, essentially terminating his employment, and failed to respond to letters from a State Bar investigator.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar and had no prior record of discipline.

JEFFREY THOMAS BOLSON [#99139], 59, of Covina, was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days. He was also placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 18, 2016.

Bolson falsely reported to the State Bar he was in compliance with his MCLE requirements when he was not. He mistakenly believed he had taken the necessary courses because he had changed work locations and failed to maintain records to verify when the MCLE courses were taken.

He subsequently entered into an agreement in lieu of discipline with the State Bar but failed to schedule a meeting with his assigned probation deputy, meet with the probation deputy or file three quarterly probation reports by deadline.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline, entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar and presented evidence of seven individuals willing to testify to his good character.

WILLIAM ROBERT COHEN [#203175], 45, of Delray Beach, Fla., was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and until he submits proof of having passed the MPRE. If he remains suspended for two years or longer, he must submit proof of his rehabilitation. In addition, he was placed on two years’ probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court if he remains suspended for 90 days or more. The order took effect Nov. 18, 2016.

Cohen failed to comply with the conditions of his public reproval by not filing a quarterly report to Probation by deadline and failing to supply proof of having passed the MPRE.

He had one prior record of discipline. In mitigation, he entered into a brief stipulation of facts with the State Bar.

EDWARD WILLIAM PACHECO [#91903], 79, of Los Angeles, was suspended from the practice of law for 90 days and ordered to take the MPRE, make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was also placed on two years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 18, 2016.

In one of the matters he was disciplined for Pacheco filed an incomplete bankruptcy petition for a client, failed to appear at a meeting of creditors on her behalf and allowed her bankruptcy petition to be dismissed for failure to provide the necessary documents. In filing the bankruptcy petition, he also failed to include a form in which he should have disclosed he received $1,700 to prepare the petition. He also failed to return six phone calls from the client or render an appropriate accounting or refund the client any of the $1,700 he didn’t earn.

He was ordered to pay $1,700 plus interest in restitution.

In another matter, he appeared in court on behalf of a client while suspended and failed to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation.

In aggravation, he had two prior records of discipline, committed numerous acts of misconduct and failed to pay restitution. In mitigation, he was experiencing personal and physical difficulties at the time of his misconduct and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

VERNE CRAIG SCHOLL [#48634], 74, of Carlsbad, was suspended from the practice of law for three years and until he provides proof of his rehabilitation. He was also placed on four years’ probation and faces a four-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He must also take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Nov. 20, 2016.

Scholl failed to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation by not attending State Bar Ethics School and State Bar Trust Accounting School and providing proof of having done so to the Office of Probation.

He had three prior records of discipline. In mitigation, he was experiencing financial difficulties at the time of his misconduct and entered into a prefiling stipulation with the State Bar.

HERCHEL MCCOY SIMS [#154185], 67, of Oceanside, was suspended from the practice of law for six months and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was also placed on three years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 20, 2016.

In September 2013, Sims filed a lawsuit on behalf of a client which mistakenly named a company as a defendant alleging it was the owner of a property involved in the matter. The property was located at 5800 West Manchester Ave. in Los Angeles. But the property the company owned was actually at 5600 West Manchester Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Despite the fact that the company demanded to be dismissed from the lawsuit multiple times because it had been improperly named as a defendant, Sims did nothing to fix his error from approximately Sept. 9, 2013 and Feb. 3, 2015. The court ultimately held an ex-parte hearing, which Sims did not attend, and dismissed the lawsuit against the company with prejudice.

In aggravation, Sims had one prior record of discipline and initially blamed a non-attorney assistant for his misconduct, then admitted she was not responsible. In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

TIFFANY CARRIE STEVENS [#225940], 41, of Brooklyn, N.Y. was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and ordered to take the MPRE. She was also placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the conditions of her disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 20, 2016.

In June 2014, Stevens falsely reported to the State Bar that she had met her MCLE requirements. In fact, she had only completed one of the necessary 25 hours within the compliance period. She was later notified she was the subject of an MCLE audit and failed to provide any records. Stevens also failed to respond to multiple letters from a State Bar investigator.

In mitigation, Stevens provided evidence from six character witnesses and has done charitable work and community service.

MARK ALAN WIESENTHAL [#185340], 62, of Beverly Hills, was suspended from the practice of law for 60 days and ordered to take the MPRE. He was also placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 20, 2016.

In May 2014, Wiesenthal falsely reported to the State Bar he was in compliance with his MCLE requirements when he was not. In fact, he had taken none of the necessary courses. He also showed indifference to his misconduct and did not take any MCLE courses after being contacted regarding an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, he had no prior record discipline and entered into a prefiling stipulation with the State Bar.

ALLISON CHRISTINE WORDEN [#211104], 41, of San Diego, was suspended from the practice of law for 60 days and ordered to take the MPRE. She was also placed on two years’ probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 20, 2016.

On Feb. 13, 2013, a jury found Worden guilty of one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and the due administration of law and two counts of alteration or destruction of a traffic citation, all misdemeanors.

In May 2011, Worden and her coworker, both deputy district attorneys for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, were pulled over and each received a citation for Worden’s failure to wear a seatbelt. Worden later phoned a family friend, a sergeant in the San Diego Police Department’s traffic division, who agreed to dismiss the citations without talking to the traffic officer. Worden then told her coworker to destroy her citation but the coworker refused to do so. Worden resigned from the district attorney’s office after the jury trial.

In aggravation, Worden’s conduct was damaging to the integrity and credibility of the criminal justice system and to the legal profession. In mitigation, she had no prior record of discipline, presented evidence of her good character, has done community service and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

DONALD WILLIAM MCVAY [#103882], 64, of Rancho Santa Fe, was suspended from the practice of law for one year and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was also placed on two years’ probation and faces a two-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 25, 2016.

McVay was suspended as a result of misconduct in three matters. In December 2014, he pleaded guilty to the unauthorized practice of law. In 2011 and 2012, while on suspension for nonpayment of child support, McVay agreed to refile a case on a client’s behalf, did other work and accepted fees. After the client complained to the State Bar, McVay refunded all the attorney fees the client paid, which totaled $15,760. It included $11,010 in attorney fees collected when McVay was not entitled to practice law and a $510 filing fee.

McVay also received illegal fees while suspended and not entitled to practice law.

In a third matter, he communicated with a represented party without the other attorney’s permission, held himself as entitled to practice law and practiced law while suspended by drafting and mailing a demand to dismiss a 60-day notice to vacate on behalf of his client. He also told the Office of Member Records and Compliance that he had not practiced law while suspended, which was untrue.

In aggravation, he engaged in multiple acts of misconduct and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law after he had been previously criminally charged for doing so.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

WILLIAM STEPHEN TOMASI [#139518], 58, of Newbury Park, was suspended from the practice of law for three years and until he provides proof of his rehabilitation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. In addition, he was placed on five years’ probation and faces a five-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 25, 2016.

Tomasi was suspended for misconduct in four matters.

In one matter, he breached his fiduciary duties as trustee by transferring the title for a property associated with the trust to himself, using the property as collateral for a personal loan to himself and failing to return the property to the trust or fully account to the trust. He also violated probate code by, among other things, transferring the property to himself and encumbering the property by way of a $60,000 loan because it was not in the best interest of the trust.

Tomasi’s actions led to a breach of fiduciary case being filed against him. To prevent two of his properties from being used to satisfy the judgment in the breach of fiduciary case, he fraudulently transferred his interests in the properties to his brother and father-in-law.

In another matter, he entered into an agreement to split fees with a disbarred attorney, failed to inform the State Bar he had hired the disbarred attorney and failed to release client papers and property.

He also failed to advise a client in writing he could seek the advice of an independent attorney, received advanced fees on behalf of a client and failed to provide an accounting and effectively withdrew from employment.

In a fourth matter, he failed to render an appropriate accounting to a client or promptly return unearned fees.

In aggravation, Tomasi committed multiple acts of misconduct. In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar, was suffering from health problems at the time of his misconduct and had no prior record of discipline.

QIN ZHANG [#225324], 51, of Los Angeles, was suspended from the practice of law from 30 days and was ordered to take the MPRE. She was also placed on two years’ probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. The order took effect Nov. 25, 2016.

Zhang was disbarred as a result of her default being entered when she did not respond to a notice of disciplinary charges. She appealed, contending that her default was improperly entered and that she was not culpable of maintaining an unjust action. A three-judge review panel upheld the hearing judge’s culpability findings.

Zhang filed a meritless lawsuit on behalf of herself and Booloon Inc., a company formed by her and her brother, despite a superior court dismissing an identical suit earlier. She also failed to report judicial sanctions to the State Bar, for $10,982, $1,500 and $4,756.

DENNIS EARL BRAUN [#152816], 55, of Los Angeles, was placed on two years’ probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 18, 2016.

Braun improperly withdrew from employment in a civil matter involving an estranged couple. He also failed to inform his client of significant developments by not notifying him of various discovery requests sent to him by his ex-partner’s lawyer and the need to respond to them.

In aggravation, Braun was found culpable of multiple acts of misconduct and had an earlier private reproval for failing to act with competence and take steps to properly distribute funds held by him for the benefit of his client and a lienholder. His misconduct also harmed his client because it resulted in an award of sanctions against him and delayed a resolution in his matter.

In mitigation, Braun entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar and presented character evidence from 15 witnesses.

MARK DAVID GREENBERG [#99726], 64, of Oakland, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he is does not comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 18, 2016.

Greenberg was disciplined for misconduct in three matters.

In 2001, he failed to file objections to a judge’s recommendation that a habeas corpus petition he filed be denied. He failed to tell his client the petition was denied, did not respond to the client’s request for an update, and the client lost his chance to appeal. In July 2015, based on a finding of attorney incompetence, the Court of Appeals reversed the earlier judgment dismissing the habeas petition and remanded the case to the district court. Greenberg failed to report the reversal of judgment to the State Bar.

Greenberg also failed to notify a client his appeal of a sex offense conviction had been denied and did not respond to multiple requests from the client for his papers and files until after the deadline had expired to file a petition with the Supreme Court.

In a third matter, he failed to release a client’s entire file after his employment ended. Greenberg released the missing court transcripts after he was contacted by the State Bar.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline and cooperated with the State Bar.

MICHAEL ARTHUR PINA [#157116], 58, of Santa Barbara, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 18, 2016.

In June 2014, Pina falsely reported to the State Bar he had completed all 25 hours of his required MCLE, when he had only completed 10 hours. He took the additional hours to come into compliance after he was contacted in connection with an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline, entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar, presented evidence of his good character and has done pro bono work.

HEATHER MICHELLE SALVADOR [#249150], 41, of Chico, was placed on probation for two years and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. She was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 18, 2016.

Salvador’s suspension follows her successful completion of the Alternative Discipline Program. Between October 2010 and May 2011, Salvador was arrested for driving under the influence on three different occasions. On Nov. 14, 2011, she pleaded guilty to three separate charges of driving under the influence.

ERIC MARTIN SIPPEL [#152876], 55, of Berkeley, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 18, 2016.

Sippel falsely affirmed under penalty of perjury he had completed all of the necessary hours to meet his MCLE requirements, when he hadn’t completed any. He completed the necessary hours after being contacted in connection with an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline, has done significant pro bono and community service, cooperated with the State Bar and entered into a prefiling stipulation.

GERALD HOWARD STERNBERG [#96110], 67, of Hazel Park, Mich., was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 18, 2016.

Sternberg falsely reported under penalty of perjury he had completed all of the necessary hours to meet his MCLE requirements, when he hadn’t completed any. Sternberg mistakenly believed he was in compliance with the requirements. He completed the required 25 hours of MCLE after being contacted in connection with an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline, was suffering from health problems as the result of a significant electrical burn and entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.

ANDREA JEAN PFLUG [#94643], 61, of Los Angeles, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. She was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 20, 2016.

Pflug falsely reported to the State Bar she was in compliance with her MCLE requirements when she was not. She had only competed one-and-a-half hours of MCLE. She completed the hours necessary to come into compliance after she was contacted in connection with an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, she had no prior record of discipline, has done pro bono work and community service, acknowledged her wrongdoing and entered into a prefiling stipulation with the State Bar.

ERIC RAYMOND RASMUSSEN [#289003], 30, of Sherman Oaks, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 20, 2016.

On April 21, 2015, Rasmussen pleaded no contest to one count of inflicting corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition against a spouse or cohabitant. On Dec. 23, 2014, an intoxicated Rasmussen attacked his girlfriend, whom he lived with, leaving her with a bloody nose, bruised left eye and scratches to her right cheek and neck.

Rasmussen’s misconduct caused severe injury to his victim. In mitigation, he presented six references who attested to his good character and entered into a pretrial stipulation.

PHILLIPS RANTA SWEET [#171811], 51, of Laguna Beach, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if he fails to comply with the terms of his disciplinary probation. He was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 20, 2016.

Sweet reported under penalty of perjury he had complied with his MCLE requirements when he had not checked his records to ensure he had. After he was selected for an MCLE audit, he contacted the State Bar to report that the laptop he used to keep track of his MCLE credits had been stolen. Sweet identified various MCLE providers with which he thought he had completed his hours, but only one hour of MCLE could be confirmed.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline, presented evidence of his good character, has done pro bono work and entered into a prefiling stipulation with the State Bar.

JILL BOBBETTE SHIGUT [#176807], 48, of Woodland Hills, was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. She was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 25, 2016.

Shigut falsely reported she had met her MCLE requirements when she had not. In fact, she had only completed six of the required 25 hours. She completed the remaining hours after she was contacted in connection with an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, she had no prior record of discipline, presented seven letters demonstrating her good character, has done pro bono work and entered into a prefiling stipulation with the State Bar.

TONYA RONEE SUMMERVILLE [#240479], 36, of Severn, Md., was placed on one year of probation and faces a one-year suspension if she fails to comply with the terms of her disciplinary probation. She was also ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect Nov. 25, 2016.

Summerville falsely reported to the State Bar she had taken the required 25 hours of MCLE within the compliance period when she had only taken six. She completed the necessary hours after she was contacted in connection with an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, she entered into a prefiling stipulation, had no prior record of discipline, presented evidence demonstrating her good character and acknowledged her wrongdoing.