MAGAZINE
California Lawyer

DISBARMENT

Sean P. Gjerde, State Bar #217467, Wilton (April 11, 2014). Gjerde, 38, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that Gjerde had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect May 11, 2014
Samantha C. Harris, State Bar #170337, Sunland (April 11, 2014). Harris, 49, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Harris was charged with 42 counts of misconduct involving seven client matters. The charges included failing to competently perform legal services, failing to communicate, making misrepresentations and habitually disregarding the interests of her clients, collecting advance fees in connection with loan modification services in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7, aiding in the unauthorized practice of law, permitting the misuse of her name, improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to return unearned fees, failing to notify clients of the sale of a law practice, failing to cooperate in a State Bar investigation, and committing acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption. In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar recommended that Harris also be ordered to pay $30,978, plus interest, in restitution. The order took effect May 11, 2014
Lawrence V. Harrison, State Bar #202689, Riverside (April 11, 2014). Harrison, 69, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He was charged with six counts of misconduct, including failing to communicate, improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to render appropriate accounts, failing to refund unearned fees, and failing to return a client’s papers or property. In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that Harrison had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect May 11, 2014
Daniel M. Horton, State Bar #160532, Rancho Cordova (April 11, 2014). Horton, 49, was disbarred following his misdemeanor conviction for annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18, an act involving moral turpitude.

At the time of the misconduct, Horton served as a juvenile judicial commissioner for the Sacramento County Superior Court, presiding over juvenile dependency and detention hearings.

In November 2010 Jane Doe claimed that Horton approached her at a tanning salon and falsely represented that he was a modeling agent in search of a model. Horton brought up the issue of nude modeling even after Jane Doe revealed she was only 17. During the course of Jane Doe’s interaction with Horton, he inappropriately touched her and indecently exposed himself. Jane Doe did not have the courage to file a complaint until after the statute of limitations had passed. As a result, authorities could not charge Horton with a crime. However, the Sacramento Police Department decided to conduct a sting operation on Horton using two decoys who could pass as juveniles.

In February 2012 the police department deployed two female decoys on Horton’s expected travel route during his lunch break. Horton approached the decoys in the same way he reportedly approached Jane Doe. Horton, purporting to be a modeling agent in search of nude models, asked one decoy if she would be interested in auditioning to perform in a nude video, but she declined. However, she did express interest in nude modeling. Horton then asked her to perform a five-minute audition in a nearby alley, but she declined.

Ultimately, Horton was charged with violating Penal Code § 647.6(a)(2) (motivated by unnatural sexual interest in children); and Penal Code § 664/288.4(a)(1) (motivated by unnatural sexual interest in children, attempting to arrange a meeting).

Horton pleaded no contest and was convicted of one misdemeanor count, which involved conduct motivated by an unnatural sexual interest in children. He was sentenced to 90 days of jail time and three years of probation. He was also required to register as a sex offender, and to complete a sex offender management program.

In aggravation, Horton significantly harmed Jane Doe and the administration of justice, and he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Horton had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1992. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation and was entitled to some mitigation based on letters attesting to his good character. The order took effect May 11, 2014

John A. Hurley, State Bar #145907, Anaheim Hills (April 11, 2014). Hurley, 59, 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, including failing to timely submit quarterly reports, failing to provide proof of restitution payments, failing to comply with Lawyer Assistance Program conditions, and failing to provide proof of attendance and completion of State Bar Ethics School. In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that Hurley had a record of five previous orders of discipline. It ordered him to pay $13,000, plus interest, in restitution. The order took effect May 11, 2014
Emeka G. Onwualu, State Bar #161868, Inglewood (April 11, 2014). Onwualu, 62, was disbarred for committing 29 acts of misconduct involving seven client matters. His misconduct included repeatedly failing to competently perform legal services, collecting advance fees for loan modification services in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a)(1), failing to promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries, failing to keep a client reasonably informed of significant developments, failing to take steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to a client upon termination of employment, failing to render appropriate accounts, failing to refund unearned fees, failing to cooperate and participate in a State Bar disciplinary investigation, and failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Onwualu had a record of prior discipline, and the misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his clients. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 11, 2014

Henry A. Pattiz, State Bar #44073, Studio City (April 11, 2014). Pattiz, 72, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He was charged with violating rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that Pattiz had a record of two prior disciplinary orders, and that the State Bar’s Client Security Fund had paid $24,000 in claims resulting from his misconduct. The order took effect May 11, 2014
Padrik S. Ryan, State Bar #256997, Coarsegold (April 11, 2014). Ryan, 39, was disbarred following his conviction for importing marijuana, an act involving moral turpitude. In addition, Ryan failed to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In September 2012 Ryan drove his truck from Mexico into the United States through the San Ysidro port of entry. A narcotics-detecting dog alerted Border Patrol agents to his truck. Agents discovered 84.96 pounds of marijuana, with a wholesale value of at least $25,000, concealed in the truck’s gas tank. Ryan had knowledge of the illicit cargo, and knowingly entered the country with it for commercial purposes.

At the time of his arrest, there was an outstanding bench warrant for Ryan’s arrest in California on charges of felony hit-and-run and resisting arrest. Ultimately, he was convicted of violating of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952 and 960 for the importation of marijuana.

In February 2013 Ryan was sentenced to ten months in prison. That same month the State Bar Court issued an order suspending Ryan from the practice of law pending final disposition of his criminal case. He was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court, but he failed to do so.

In aggravation, Ryan had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, Ryan cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 11, 2014

SUSPENSION

James G. Morris, State Bar #110955, Burbank (March 26, 2014). Morris, 56, was suspended for one year and placed on two years of probation for failing to report a civil fraud judgment and committing acts involving moral turpitude.

In 2005 and 2006 Morris defended Micromark, a California corporation, in a lawsuit against B Five, its lessee in a commercial building. Micromark replaced Morris as counsel, and it then rehired him in 2007 to represent the company in all of its legal matters, including the B Five lawsuit.

Morris reviewed the case and discovered that Micromark was in default. He concluded that the default could not be set aside, but he did not inform opposing counsel or take any legal action. The superior court entered a judgment against Micromark for $2.4 million.

By December 2007 Morris agreed to file a motion to set aside the default, and he placed encumbrances on the commercial building to secure two promissory notes totaling $703,000. After B Five won its judgment, it filed suit against Micromark and Morris, arguing that the deeds of trust that secured the promissory notes were fraudulent conveyances. The superior court agreed, concluding that the transfers were not made in good faith or for a reasonably equivalent value; it also found that Morris assisted in efforts to hinder and delay B Five’s collection of its judgment.

In aggravation, Morris’s misconduct significantly harmed B Five. In mitigation, Morris had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1983, and he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect June 14, 2014

Linda L. Seals, State Bar #129003, Irvine (March 26, 2014). Seals, 56, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to provide the State Bar with written notice that she employed her husband, a suspended attorney, in her legal practice.

Seals was married to attorney Jay Tenenbaum when he was suspended in 2011 from the practice of law for three years; he was disbarred in 2012. After the effective date of Tenenbaum’s suspension, he performed services for Phoenix Law Group, a legal practice owned by Seals. In 2011 and 2012 Tenenbaum worked daily in the Phoenix Law Group office, performing clerical and administrative duties. Seals was required by rule 1-311(D) of the Rules of Professional Conduct to serve notice on the State Bar of Tenenbaum’s employment, but she willfully failed to do so.

In aggravation, Seals had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, she admitted her misconduct and cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect April 25, 2014

Leonard Tachner, State Bar #58436, San Jose (March 26, 2014). Tachner, 70, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for professional misconduct related to a disciplinary action imposed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

In April 2013 the USPTO disciplined Tachner in three client matters for failing to pay patent maintenance fees, thereby allowing the clients’ patents to expire. The USPTO suspended Tachner from practicing before that office in patent, trademark, and other nonpatent matters for a period of five years. His culpability in the underlying proceeding warranted imposition of discipline by the State Bar.

In aggravation, Tachner’s misconduct demonstrated a pattern of wrongdoing, and his failure to perform caused significant harm to his clients. In mitigation, Tachner had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1973. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect April 25, 2014

Robert N. Vohra, State Bar #163798, Washington, DC (March 26, 2014). Vohra, 53, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for engaging in misconduct in another jurisdiction.

In 1995 a Canadian corporation retained Vohra to determine and ensure compliance with U.S. registration requirements, and to facilitate its offer of sales franchises throughout the United States. He failed to perform the assigned task, and he misrepresented to his law partner that the work had been performed for the Canadian corporation.

Vohra later wrote to the Canadian corporation, enclosing a chart listing the states where the company was registered to sell franchises. The listing was partly correct and partly inaccurate. Vohra later admitted that he had made misrepresentations regarding the filings.

In April 2000 the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsibility found that Vohra had committed violations of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals then suspended Vohra from the practice of law and placed him on probation for two years.

In a second matter, in September 2004 Vohra was employed by husband-and-wife clients to obtain E-2 visas based on their investment in a UPS store in Arlington, Virginia. Vohra filed applications for them using an incorrect form, and the forms were rejected. He failed to advise the clients of the rejection, and he did not resubmit the correct forms until November 2005. The resubmitted applications were denied, but Vohra misrepresented to the clients that they were still pending. When the clients learned the applications had been denied, they confronted Vohra, who falsely said that he had filed a motion to reopen and reconsider the matter. The clients then hired replacement counsel.

In April 2011 the D.C. court’s Board on Professional Responsibility found that Vohra had committed violations of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals suspended Vohra from the practice of law for three years.

In aggravation, Vohra committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his clients. In mitigation, Vohra had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1993, and he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. Also, during the period of his misconduct Vohra experienced major depression and later received medical treatment to alleviate it. The order took effect April 25, 2014

PROBATION

Lawrence M. Oleksiewicz, State Bar #165752, Beverly Hills (March 26, 2014). Oleksiewicz, 54, was placed on two years of probation for collecting an illegal fee.

In July 2007 the Sun Valley Group Inc., personal representative of a deceased’s estate, hired Oleksiewicz to open an ancillary probate proceeding and to dispose of properties on the estate’s behalf. He sent Sun Valley a bill for $9,000, which he calculated using a statutory formula set forth in the California Probate Code; Sun Valley sent Oleksiewicz a check for that amount. However, the probate court never gave Oleksiewicz approval to receive compensation for his services as an attorney. Sun Valley later terminated Oleksiewicz’s employment and requested return of the $9,000. He agreed to return the fee, but claimed he lacked sufficient funds to do so at the time. After a State Bar complaint was filed against him, Oleksiewicz later returned the fee.

In mitigation, Oleksiewicz had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1993, and he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect April 25, 2014

PUBLIC REPROVAL

Nazissa Parsakar, State Bar #152797, Los Angeles (April 16, 2014). Parsakar, 51, received a public reproval for repeatedly violating court orders.

In August 2011 Parsakar filed a civil complaint on behalf of two clients. In September 2012 the court ordered Parsakar and her clients to pay $1,400 in discovery sanctions, but they failed to do so. A month later the court again imposed discovery sanctions against Parsakar and her clients, this time for $860. Parsakar and her clients failed to timely pay. In December 2012 the court imposed a $300 sanction against Parsakar for failing to appear at a scheduled Order to Show Cause hearing.

Parsakar eventually paid all three sanctions. In January 2013 she failed to appear for a second OSC hearing, and the court again ordered her to pay $300 in sanctions. The court also sanctioned Parsakar $150 for failing to inform the court of the status of a related bankruptcy proceeding. Parsakar failed to timely pay any portion of those sanctions or to request relief; she finally paid the sanctions in June 2013.

In aggravation, Parsakar committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed the administration of justice, the profession, and the opposing party by unnecessarily consuming time and resources. In mitigation, Parsakar had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1991, and she cooperated by entering into a stipulation. At the time of her misconduct, Parsakar was experiencing family problems. The order took effect May 7, 2014

There are no recent disciplinary actions of this type.