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Disbarments

Below is a list of 17 attorneys who were disbarred by the State Bar of California as a result of misconduct. The list covers March 1 through 31, 2017.

Discipline-related resources from the State Bar:

● File an attorney misconduct complaint with the State Bar

● Find information about attorney ethics

● Apply to the Client Security Fund if you have lost money due to attorney misconduct

  1. REGINALD PEREZ MASON
  2. DARYL LYNN BINKLEY
  3. JOSEPH LYNN DeCLUE
  4. KATAYOUN T. FAZLI
  5. ROBERT MARSHALL FRENCH
  6. STEPHEN EDWARD GALINDO
  7. WADE ANTHONY ROBERTSON
  8. JAMES PATRICK STONEMAN II
  9. THOMAS MELVIN SWIHART
  10. FRANK FRANCIS BARILLA
  11. MARK EUGENE HUBER
  12. STEVEN GREGORY KAPLAN
  13. TAM NGUYEN
  14. RONALD LEE BARTHOLOMEW
  15. B. KWAKU DUREN
  16. ANTHONY R. SALES
  17. BRUCE ANTHONY THOMASON

REGINALD PEREZ MASON [#243934], 50, of Long Beach, was disbarred March 17, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Mason was found to have intentionally misappropriated more than $48,000 from his client trust account in the case of a woman who hired him to probate her mother’s estate. Mason was also found to have dishonestly or grossly negligently misappropriated more than $20,000 held in his client trust account for a second client. Both cases involved moral turpitude due to misrepresentations to clients.

There were multiple acts of wrongdoing and significant harm to clients. Mason displayed indifference and a failure to acknowledge his wrongdoing. The State Bar Court assigned no mitigation credit to emotional stress Mason suffered during three years he spent trying to overturn a $1.1 million judgment against him because he did not establish a nexus between his difficulties and his misconduct. He received some credit for favorable testimony regarding his good character, cooperating with the State Bar and for his pro bono work and community service.

DARYL LYNN BINKLEY [#254326], 46, of Palm Desert, was disbarred March 31, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was charged with 14 counts of misconduct and failed to participate in State Bar Court proceedings; his default was entered and the factual allegations against him were deemed admitted.

In one matter, he failed to appear at three different court hearings for a client, terminated his representation without adequate notice, and failed to return his client’s file promptly, respond to his client’s reasonable status inquiries or pay $250 in superior court sanctions. In another matter, he failed to perform any legal services for which his client retained him, return any of a $750 advanced fee and or render an accounting of the fee. Binkley failed to report to the State Bar $1,500 in judicial sanctions or pay the sanctions.

JOSEPH LYNN DeCLUE [#163954], 68, of Santa Ana, was disbarred March 31, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was found culpable of seven acts of misconduct in client matters involving home mortgage modification matters and with habitually disregarding the interests of his clients.

DeClue, who had an established criminal defense and immigration law practice, opened a foreclosure defense practice in Corona in August 2012 after seeing the problems family and friends, who were facing foreclosure, endured at the hands of their mortgage lenders. He hired a company to help him with foreclosure law, but it was run by two individuals who had never been licensed to practice law. DeClue knew that another attorney had been charged with professional misconduct following his involvement with the two individuals, Robert Campoy and Andres Martinez. DeClue soon learned that Martinez had forged his signature on a pleading for a client in a matter unknown to DeClue, but did not immediately terminate his contract with Campoy and Martinez. DeClue later discovered that the two had many clients he did not know about or approve, and he took his own files back and moved them to a new office. But by failing to supervise Campoy and Martinez, he abdicated his duty to his clients’ interests.

DeClue collected several thousand dollars for a client in advance compensation for loan modification services, a Civil Code violation. He permitted a declaration to be filed with Riverside County Superior Court without disclosing that his signature was simulated by a staff member, conduct involving moral turpitude. In another client matter, DeClue failed to refund $11,500 in fees advanced by clients he had never met. He committed similar misconduct in similar cases and in one, ignored a $36,000 attorney fee award to opposing counsel by a court. His disregard for his clients’ interests established that DeClue lacks a meaningful understanding of basic fiduciary law. In aggravation, DeClue had two prior records of discipline and committed multiple acts of misconduct.

KATAYOUN T. FAZLI [#289425], 34, of Irvine, was disbarred March 31, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Charged with six counts of misconduct, she failed to participate in State Bar Court proceedings leading to the factual allegations against her being deemed admitted.

In one matter Fazli failed to perform services for a client and did not refund an unearned fee, nor did she provide an accounting to the client. She also failed to notify the State Bar of a change in her address and failed to respond to her client’s reasonable status inquiries. Her disbarment order includes a requirement that she make $1,000 in restitution to her client plus 10 percent interest per year from May 26, 2015.

ROBERT MARSHALL FRENCH [#98654], 61, of Sherman Oaks, was disbarred March 31, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Default in his case was entered when he failed to participate in person or through counsel, and the allegations against him were deemed admitted.

French was disciplined on three prior occasions, including for engaging in improper or misleading advertising. He had admitted to three counts of misconduct in a single client matter, including failing to obey a court order, report sanctions or cooperate with a disciplinary investigation. He was found culpable of violating the terms of his prior disciplinary probation.

STEPHEN EDWARD GALINDO [76481], 66, of South Pasadena, was disbarred March 31, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Galindo was suspended and placed on probation in 2015 until he presented proof of payment of $1,000 in sanction orders from the Los Angeles County Superior Court. While the suspension was in effect, Galindo phoned and identified himself to a Baldwin Park police sergeant as an attorney for a friend and was informally representing Allstate Insurance in connection with a hit-and-run collision. The call was an effort to arrange for the release of the friend’s impounded automobile. When the sergeant ran Galindo’s State Bar number and learned he was suspended, Galindo indicated his suspension had been for a 30-day period, which had expired. The sergeant reported Galindo’s actions to the State Bar. Galindo thus violated the prohibition against holding himself out falsely as entitled to practice law, an act of moral turpitude. Because Galindo still had not paid the sanction orders, he remained suspended.

In a second matter, Galindo attempted to meet a client at an Alhambra courthouse lockup facility. A deputy took his driver’s license and State Bar card, looked him up on a computer and learned he was suspended. Galindo claimed he had “cleared up his suspension. The deputy reported the matter to the State Bar. Galindo has since violated several conditions of his suspension and probation and has been found culpable of moral turpitude. In aggravation, he had a prior occasion of discipline, committed multiple acts of misconduct and showed a lack of candor in his dealings with the State Bar. He has shown a lack of insight and remorse. The State Bar Court assigned only modest weight in mitigation to Galindo’s own testimony that he has performed significant pro bono work in numerous criminal matters, because that claim was unsupported by other evidence. The court failed to find evidence that Galindo suffered from kidney disease a mitigating factor, but granted some limited credit for belatedly completing some of the terms of his probation.

WADE ANTHONY ROBERTSON [#217899], 49, of Stanford, was disbarred March 31, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The State Bar Court Review Department affirmed a hearing judge’s decision that Robertson defrauded his elderly business partner and client, Dr. William C. Cartinhour Jr., made material misrepresentations in the process and ultimately misappropriated $3.5 million of Cartinhour’s funds.

Robertson also abused the litigation process by asserting frivolous positions in civil and bankruptcy proceedings. A federal district court jury awarded $7 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Robertson, which Robertson has not paid. In 2004, Robertson solicited Cartinhour, then a 77-year-old Maryland physician, to finance litigation expenses for plaintiffs in a class action alleging securities violations, Liu v. Credit Suisse Boston, pending in the Southern District of New York. Robertson never entered an appearance in the case but, working behind the scenes, told Cartinhour the case involved multibillion dollar claims with a high likelihood of success. He offered Cartinhour a fixed percentage of any recovery in exchange for his investment. Testimony later showed Cartinhour signed agreements without reading them and believed falsely that Robertson was acting as his attorney.

Robertson used $2 million of Cartinhour’s funds for personal securities trading and persuaded Cartinhour to increase his investment, claiming the plaintiffs’ case was “unbeatable. In 2005 the district court dismissed the Credit Suisse litigation with prejudice, but Robertson continued to misrepresent to Cartinhour the status of the case as “on track. Robertson prepared last will and testament documents for Cartinhour in which Cartinhour appointed Robertson as the executor. Robertson solicited an additional $1.5 million from Cartinhour and used most of it for personal securities trading. When Cartinour’s suspicions led him to consult another attorney, Robertson accused him of breaching the confidentiality provision of their partnership agreement. Robertson refused to cooperate with another attorney’s request for an accounting and return of Cartinhour’s $3.5 million. A federal court found Robertson liable for breach of fiduciary duty and legal malpractice. A bankruptcy court sanctioned Robertson for unethical strategies and misrepresentation.

The State Bar Court found Robertson committed acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption. It concluded that Robertson’s misconduct included significant aggravation and no mitigation.

JAMES PATRICK STONEMAN II [#94523], 63, of Claremont, was disbarred March 31, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Stoneman failed to participate in State Bar Court proceedings in which he was charged with 25 acts of misconduct. His default led the court to deem the factual allegations admitted. He had a prior record of misconduct.

In several matters, Stoneman failed to perform any legal services for clients, respond to the clients’ status inquiries or to return files and fees. In another matter, he committed moral turpitude by falsely reporting under penalty of perjury that he had complied with MCLE requirements. He was ordered to make restitution to four clients.

THOMAS MELVIN SWIHART [#98564], 67, of Hidden Valley Lake, was disbarred March 31, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He failed to participate in State Bar Court proceedings, and his resulting default led the court to deem the factual allegations admitted. Swihart failed to file proof of compliance with the duties of suspended attorneys following his 2013 two-year stayed suspension with six months’ actual suspension. His misconduct included committing acts of moral turpitude in two client matters and failing to obey court orders or report court sanctions.

FRANK FRANCIS BARILLA [#103282], 68, of Santa Ana, was disbarred March 1, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Barilla failed to participate in State Bar Court proceedings in which he was charged with four ethical violations. His default led the court to deem the factual allegations admitted.

Barilla had three prior records of discipline, including having received a private reproval. He stipulated that he employed a disbarred attorney and failed to adequately supervise the attorney. His misconduct in that case was mitigated by his 28 years of discipline-free practice, candor and cooperation. In his second prior, Barilla was placed on probation for two years and suspended for 30 days for misconduct related to loan modification services. His third prior resulted in suspension until he made restitution for loan modification services misconduct.

The conduct that led to Barilla’s disbarment included failing to obtain informed written consent from clients who were the driver and passenger of a vehicle involved in a collision. The clients were in potential conflict. Barilla also failed to comply with the provisions of his earlier probation and committed moral turpitude by declaring under penalty of perjury that he had complied with all provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct when he knew or was grossly negligent for not knowing that was false.

MARK EUGENE HUBER [#179183], 51, of South Jordan, Utah, was disbarred March 1, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Huber has been disciplined twice before for misconduct, including failure to perform competently, respond to client inquiries, refund client fees and obey court orders.

In the current case, he failed to obey multiple court orders and to report a $1,000 judicial sanction. Huber stipulated to his misconduct, but his argument for discipline lesser than disbarment due to his addiction to prescription drugs failed, because the State Bar Court Review Department found more evidence in aggravation and less in mitigation. In one matter in Sutter County, he failed to appear at court ordered status conferences or to pay a series of escalating sanctions, starting at $250 and increasing to several thousand dollars, or to report the sanctions to the State Bar. He was arrested for illegally possessing prescription medications and entered a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program. He has since filed evidence of his continuing sobriety.

In aggravation, substantial weight was assigned to his prior record of discipline because the record showed he has harmed multiple clients since 2007. Huber received limited mitigation for good character evidence and for the emotional, financial and physical difficulties related to his separation from his wife, his daughter’s marriage at a young age and his battle with Crohn’s disease. In the most recent misconduct he violated numerous court orders and failed to report a $1,000 non-discovery sanction. He demonstrated a pattern of misconduct that led to more than 30 counts involving 12 client matters over seven years. All involved Huber’s disregard for his professional duties to his clients and the court.

The Review Department granted no mitigation for Huber’s addiction to prescription painkillers because his drug possession was illegal and he failed to establish a nexus between his addiction and his misconduct. Even though he ceased using narcotics in January 2014, he continued to disregard various court orders for months. And he sought treatment only after he was arrested and under threat of criminal prosecution. His cooperation with the State Bar did, however, merit significant consideration in mitigation. Yet Huber reoffended, committing the same or similar misconduct that gave rise to his prior disciplinary cases. The State Bar’s duty to protect the public outweighed his entitlement to leniency.

STEVEN GREGORY KAPLAN [#137381], 55, of Calabasas, was disbarred March 1, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Kaplan appealed from a State Bar Court Hearing Judge’s decision that he be disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in a client trust account and intentionally misappropriating those funds, but the State Bar Court Review Department rejected his claim that he did not do so intentionally. Kaplan argued that he was grossly negligent in handling the funds during a time of personal and financial stress, but that he deserved only a two-year suspension. Placing the funds in a non-CTA account allowed his bank to seize the funds, leaving him unable to repay his client.

Both the judge and the Review Department found that Kaplan intentionally and dishonestly misappropriated client funds for his personal use and benefit. The disputed funds came from three clients who retained Kaplan to represent them in the sale of a movie script titled “Mucho Dinero to a producer. The parties agreed on a sales price of $90,000. Kaplan placed the money in a Wells Fargo Bank checking account, not a CTA. He misrepresented to one of his clients that the money was not available for disbursement for several weeks, during which time Kaplan made more than 100 withdrawals for business and personal expenses including restaurant bills, airline tickets, credit care payments and a $15,000 payment to a resort. Kaplan made various excuses for his non-payment to the client for more than a year. The client’s sister, an attorney, demanded payment. Kaplan finally paid, three months after the State Bar filed a notice of charges against him. He testified that during this time he suffered from depressing, was getting a divorce and had significant financial and business problems. He admitted misappropriating the funds, but contended it was not intentional or dishonest and offered no plausible explanation for failing to pay the client what he was owed. In aggravation, he caused significant harm to his client, who had to liquidate stocks he had set aside for college funds and use his credit card to cover expenses while he waited for Kaplan to pay him.

Kaplan committed multiple acts of wrongdoing by making more than 100 withdrawals of the client’s funds for his own use. He showed a lack of candor and cooperation with his client. He did cooperate in the State Bar proceedings, attaining merit for entering into an extensive factual stipulation and for lack of prior discipline over 24 years in practice. He also submitted good character evidence. But he was accorded minimal mitigation for his claims of extreme emotional difficulties, because Kaplan did not show that his problems caused him to misappropriate the money. And he failed to prove that his difficulties no longer pose a risk of future misconduct.

TAM NGUYEN [#159601], 48, of San Jose, was disbarred March 1, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Nguyen stipulated that in one instance he diverted more than $5,000 from insurance companies for his personal injury clients to his own use and failed to keep the funds in a client trust account, an act involving moral turpitude and dishonesty. In aggravation, Nguyen had a prior record of discipline with a suspension for mishandling his client trust account. He has committed multiple acts of wrongdoing, concealed evidence of misconduct and caused significant harm to his clients. In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation.

RONALD LEE BARTHOLOMEW [#47428], 86, of Newport Beach, was disbarred March 12, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was ordered to pay restitution totaling $100,000 to two clients.

In 2013, Bartholomew agreed to be the escrow agent for two clients and to hold escrow they paid him in trust. He then made numerous withdrawals or disbursements from the client trust account where he held the funds until the account held only $102.17. He stalled when the clients asked for return of the funds until the State Bar notified him of allegations by the clients that he was refusing to return the funds. He has not refunded any portion of the money.

Bartholomew admitted that he violated the Rules of Professional Conduct by dishonestly or with gross negligence misappropriating the funds, an act of moral turpitude. In 2014 he stipulated to a public reproval with conditions, but has failed to comply with the conditions. Bartholomew had a prior record of discipline, committed multiple acts of misconduct and failed to make restitution. In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation.

B. KWAKU DUREN [#147789], 70, of Compton, was disbarred March 12, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was ordered in default when he failed to participate in State Bar Court proceedings related to three counts of misconduct involving a single client matter. The default meant that the factual allegations against him were deemed admitted.

Duren failed to respond to discovery requests, meet and confer, respond to motions to compel or appear on his client’s behalf at a hearing. He willfully shared legal fees with a person not a lawyer and failed to comply with a Los Angeles County Superior Court order compelling discovery and payment of sanctions.

MARY CATHERINE REID [#156385], 56, of Irvine, was disbarred March 12, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Reid failed to participate in a disciplinary proceeding related to misrepresentation of her continuing legal education requirements, failing to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation and failing to update her membership address. She was ordered in default, meaning that the factual allegations against her were deemed admitted.

Reid reported under penalty of perjury that she had fully complied with her MCLE requirements from Feb. 1, 2011, to Jan. 31, 2014. She knew or was grossly negligent for not knowing her representation was false. She failed to respond to the allegations in a disciplinary investigation, and she did not notify the State Bar of a change in her address.

ANTHONY R. SALES [#218193], 45, of Stockton, was disbarred March 12, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. Sales was ordered in default when he failed to appear at a State Bar Court trial on six counts of violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. That meant the factual allegations against him were deemed admitted.

Sales solicited a prospective client with whom he had no family or prior professional relationship. Then he failed to take any steps to obtain a mortgage loan modification of behalf of the client and failed to promptly refund any part of the $1,500 in unearned fees upon termination of his employment. He entered into a fee agreement with the client without providing him with information required by the Civil Code and collected a fee from the client before he had fully performed the services for which he was retained.

BRUCE ANTHONY THOMASON [#140596], 55, of Laguna Hills, was disbarred March 12, 2017, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He was ordered in default when he failed to participate in proceedings stemming from 10 counts of misconduct. That meant the factual allegations against him were deemed admitted.

Thomason had been disciplined in 2015 and was ordered suspended until he made restitution to 12 former clients. At that time he stipulated that he failed to perform with competence, failed to deposit client funds into a client trust account, failed to render appropriate accountings to clients, refund unused costs to clients, promptly return unearned advanced attorney fees, respond to clients’ reasonable status inquiries or promptly release client papers and property. He also stipulated that he charged fees prior to fully performing loan modification services he had contracted to perform and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in a jurisdiction outside California.

In aggravation, he committed multiple acts of misconduct, caused significant harm to his clients, acted with indifference to his wrongdoing, demonstrated a lack of insight into his wrongdoing and failed to make restitution to certain clients. In mitigation, he then had no prior record of discipline and had entered into a pretrial stipulation. In the current matter Thomason mishandled loan modification services, failed to return a client’s file and failed to respond to State Bar letters seeking a response to allegations of misconduct. He also agreed to perform legal services and charged $2,330 in fees for a Florida client although he had not been admitted to the practice of law there. 

. Caution!  More than 200,000 attorneys are eligible to practice law in California. Many attorneys share the same names. All discipline reports are taken from State Bar Court documents and should be read carefully for names, ages, addresses and bar numbers. Read the Discipline Key for an explanation of common disciplinary terms. Use Attorney Search to check an attorney's official bar record.