MAGAZINE
California Lawyer

DISBARMENT

Heroico M. Aguiluz, State Bar #79580, Los Angeles (June 11, 2014). Heroico M. Aguiluz, State Bar # 79580, Los Angeles (June 11). Aguiluz, 77, was disbarred for repeatedly failing to comply with court orders. In October 2003 the trial court sanctioned Aguiluz and his client $2,000, to be paid within 30 days. In January 2004 the court sanctioned Aguiluz an additional $2,000, again payable within 30 days. In 2005 the court of appeal affirmed the sanctions orders. At all times, Aguiluz received the notice of the sanctions orders but did not pay the sanctions.

In December 2006 the trial court sanctioned Aguiluz and his client $500. On that same date, in the same matter, the court issued another sanctions order for $500. In July 2007 the trial court sanctioned Aguiluz $8,500, payable to the opposing law firm. In January 2008 the court again sanctioned Aguiluz and his client $2,382 for discovery abuse. The following month the court ordered Aguiluz and his client to pay the $1,000 in sanctions imposed in December 2006, with interest. In addition, the court ordered Aguiluz and his client to pay $2,382 for misuse of the discovery process.

In March 2008 the court ordered Aguiluz and his client to pay $3,207 because of their continued failure to pay the 2006 sanctions. In July the court ordered Aguiluz and his client to pay $9,720 in total sanctions for their discovery abuses. At all times, Aguiluz received notice of the sanctions orders but paid none of them.

In November 2009 Aguiluz filed for bankruptcy protection. However, the bankruptcy court found that the judicial sanctions ordered against him were the result of litigation misconduct, and it declined to discharge those sanctions. In sum, Aguiluz failed to pay $31,190 in court-ordered sanctions. Although the first two sanction orders were barred by the statute of limitations, the remaining sanctions, totaling more than $27,000, were within the five-year limitations period.

In aggravation, Aguiluz had a record of prior discipline. He committed multiple acts of wrongdoing, demonstrating a pattern of misconduct. His repeated failure to comply with discovery orders caused significant harm to the administration of justice. Also, he showed complete indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. The order took effect July 11, 2014

Haig P. Ashikian, State Bar #183083, Encino (June 9, 2014). Ashikian, 48, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. He was charged with seven counts of misconduct, including misappropriating client funds, failing to render appropriate accounts, and failing to deposit a settlement draft into a blocked account for a minor client.

In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that there were four investigations pending against Ashikian, and that he had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect July 9, 2014

Michael W. Coopet, State Bar #111063, San Dimas (June 26, 2014). Coopet, 57, was disbarred in connection with misconduct he committed in Minnesota.

Coopet was admitted to practice law in both California and Minnesota. In 1992 the Minnesota Department of Commerce issued an insurance agent’s license to Coopet, authorizing him to sell insurance. Although his insurance license was suspended in November 1998 for failure to pay renewal fees, Coopet engaged in insurance-related activities in 1999 with an altered insurance license. In 2000 the purchaser of an annuity complained to Coopet’s employer that he had not explained the true nature of the insurance product. The complaint prompted an investigation of the transaction by the Commerce Department, which discovered that Coopet did not possess a valid license. Coopet submitted three checks he purportedly wrote as payment for the 1998 license-renewal fee, but two of those checks actually represented payment for notary commissions. Also, none of the checks or the amounts supported Coopet’s claim that the checks evidenced payment of his 1998 renewal fee. Furthermore, Coopet covered up the memo portion of the checks to conceal the annotations on the checks.

In April 2001 Coopet entered into a consent order for the revocation of his insurance agent license, based on the allegation that he sold an annuity policy without first obtaining a valid license in violation of Minnesota law.

In September 2001 the director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in Minnesota initiated an investigation into the matter, requesting Coopet’s response. Coopet denied any wrongdoing and alleged that the Commerce Department’s action was a personal vendetta against him. He made other statements that he knew to be false, including assertions about the checks he submitted to the Commerce Department. The director then obtained copies of the altered checks Coopet had submitted.

In March 2006 Coopet entered into a stipulation with the director, unconditionally admitting the allegations against him. The director and Coopet jointly recommended a 36-month suspension. In July 2006 the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered Coopet’s indefinite suspension by the Minnesota Bar, considering his misconduct a violation of professional rules prohibiting actions involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation, and knowingly making a false statement of material fact in connection with a disciplinary matter.

Based on findings in the Minnesota proceeding, the California State Bar Court determined discipline was warranted. It found Coopet culpable of committing acts involving moral turpitude by misrepresenting the true nature of an annuity, altering documents, and making misrepresentations to the Commerce Department and to the director of Minnesota’s Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. The State Bar Court also found Coopet culpable of failing to cooperate with a disciplinary matter and culpable of misconduct in five client matters related to legal work in Minnesota, which were also violations of California law.

In aggravation, Coopet had a record of prior discipline. Also, he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Coopet cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. Also, during the period of his misconduct Coopet was experiencing extreme emotional difficulties. The order took effect July 27, 2014

M. I. Daniel, State Bar #163403, South Pasadena (June 26, 2014). Daniel, 58, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In April 2013 the State Bar properly served a notice of disciplinary charges (NDC) on Daniel, charging her with four counts of misconduct, including failing to competently perform legal services, failing to communicate, failing to return unearned fees, and failing to render proper accounting. Daniel failed to file a response to the NDC. In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that Daniel had other investigations or disciplinary charges pending against her. The order took effect July 27, 2014

Jeffrey R. Dreiling, State Bar #221285, North Highlands (June 26, 2014). Dreiling, 41, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In April 2013 the State Bar Court properly served Dreiling with two notices of hearing following his conviction in two separate criminal matters in Nevada for felony possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence. Dreiling failed to respond, his default was entered, and the factual allegations were deemed admitted. In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that Dreiling had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 2002. His two underlying convictions stemmed from his arrest for driving under the influence in March 2009, and possession of methamphetamine in March 2010. The order took effect July 26, 2014

William A. Hirst, State Bar #36401, Pleasanton (May 13, 2014). Hirst, 74, was summarily disbarred following his conviction for submitting a false statement to the IRS.

In December 2012 Hirst pleaded guilty to submitting a false statement to the IRS. The chief trial counsel then requested that Hirst be summarily disbarred because his offense was a felony that included an element of specific intent to make a false statement, which involved moral turpitude. Hirst filed a notice of nonopposition to the request for summary disbarment. The order took effect June 12, 2014

Rosemarie T. Hollander, State Bar #114175, Fountain Valley (June 26, 2014). Hollander, 69, was disbarred for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in another jurisdiction, collecting an advance fee for loan-modification services in violation of Civil Code section 2944.7(a)(1), failing to cooperate with a State Bar investigation, and failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In August 2010 Hollander was hired by a client to perform legal services relating to a home mortgage loan modification in Connecticut. Although Hollander led the client to believe she was licensed to practice law in Connecticut, she was not. The client paid Hollander $3,495 in fees, but the loan-modification package she submitted on his behalf was denied.

In April 2011 another attorney hired by the client demanded that Hollander refund the entire fee. Later that month Hollander sent a partial refund of $1,747.50. In June 2013 the State Bar opened an investigation after Hollander’s client filed a complaint alleging misconduct. Although Hollander received two letters from the State Bar investigator she failed to respond.

In a second matter, in June 2013 Hollander was ordered by the California Supreme Court to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court, but she failed to do so.

In aggravation, Hollander had a record of prior discipline. She committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed her client, and she failed to make full restitution to the client. In mitigation, Hollander cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect July 26, 2014

Kay Del Carmen Holley, State Bar #87549, San Francisco (June 9, 2014). Holley, 72, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In March 2013 the State Bar filed and properly served Holley with a notice of disciplinary proceedings (NDC), charging her with failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline. Holley failed to respond, and the State Bar moved for entry of her default. In its petition for disbarment the State Bar noted that Holley had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect July 9, 2014

Elizabeth M. Karnazes, State Bar #118922, Foster City (May 14, 2014). Elizabeth M. Barnson KARNAZES, State Bar # 118922, Foster City (May 14). Karnazes, 59, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating funds, commingling, failing to render appropriate accounts, improperly withdrawing from representation, and seeking an agreement from a client to not cooperate with a State Bar investigation.

In January 2005 Karnazes signed a fee agreement to provide legal services to her son, who had turned 18 one day earlier and was disabled. The fee agreement provided for a 50 percent contingency fee on any remaining recovery. Karnazes then represented her son in at least three lawsuits: the MHYR lawsuit, the Odyssey lawsuit, and the Moore lawsuit.

In 2009 Karnazes settled the MHYR and Odyssey matters for $40,000 and $60,000, respectively. She deposited those funds in a client trust account (CTA) and issued $7,500 in total advances to her son. As of June 2009 her son was entitled to $33,740 after deducting costs and attorneys fees. Despite the son’s repeated requests for the remainder of the funds, Karnazes refused to distribute them, accusing him of hating and abandoning her.

In 2009 Karnazes commingled about $100,000 of her personal funds into her CTA. She eventually withdrew the funds for her own use.

In June 2010 Karnazes’s son filed a complaint with the State Bar, but Karnazes continued to refuse to distribute the funds. In October 2010 she petitioned the superior court to appoint her as conservator of her son’s estate, which the court denied. Also in 2010 Karnazes obtained a default judgment in the Moore lawsuit for $56,995.

In March 2011 Karnazes received the funds and deposited the check into her CTA by forging her son’s signature. Karnazes claimed her son’s share was $23,757, after deducting $9,482 in alleged costs and $23,757 in attorneys fees. In total, Karnazes owed her son $57,496. In May 2011 Karnazes had a $63,000 cashier’s check drawn against her CTA made payable to her son, and she offered the sum to him if he agreed to release his right to any disputed funds from the settlement and to abide by a nondisparagement clause. At the time she made this offer, Karnazes knew her son had filed a complaint with the State Bar. Her son refused the offer.

In June 2012, four days before her disciplinary trial, Karnazes ultimately paid her son $53,508 as his share of the settlement proceeds and provided him with an accounting. However, the accounting omitted multiple withdrawals from her CTA and overstated her attorneys fees. Moreover, even assuming that the costs she claimed were accurate, her son was entitled to $3,988 more than what she gave him.

The State Bar charged Karnazes with 17 counts of misconduct. The hearing judge found her culpable of 9 counts, including misappropriation and trust account violations for her refusal to distribute settlement funds for more than three years. The hearing judge recommended her disbarment. Karnazes appealed the hearing judge’s findings, arguing that she should have been exonerated of all the charges. Although the State Bar Court found fewer violations than the hearing judge, it adopted the hearing judge’s recommendation.

In aggravation, Karnazes had a record of prior discipline. In addition, while committing much of the current misconduct, she was on disciplinary probation. Also, Karnazes committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed her client. Her misconduct was widespread, and she demonstrated a lack of remorse. In mitigation, Karnazes was entitled to moderate mitigating weight for her good character. The order took effect June 13, 2014

Milton Kerlan, Jr., State Bar #39719, Fresno (May 13, 2014). Kerlan, 73, 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 rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that Kerlan had a record of five prior disciplinary matters. The order took effect June 12, 2014
Estrelita Lane, State Bar #215086, Los Angeles (June 5, 2014). Lane, 49, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. She was charged with failing to competently perform legal services, failing to return unearned fees, and failing to render appropriate accounts. The State Bar Court recommended her disbarment and ordered payment of $2,000 in restitution with interest. The order took effect July 5, 2014
Patrick M. Passenheim, State Bar #140752, San Diego (June 9, 2014). Passenheim, 67, 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 its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that Passenheim had a record of three prior disciplinary matters. The order took effect July 9, 2014
Daniel L. Pearson, State Bar #157206, Glendora (June 26, 2014). Pearson, 49, 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 maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating funds, and failing to participate in a State Bar investigation. The order took effect July 26, 2014
Alexander J. Pecel, State Bar #167229, Valencia (June 5, 2014). Pecel, 46, was disbarred for failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. In its petition for disbarment, the State Bar noted that Pecel had a record of four prior disciplinary matters. The order took effect July 5, 2014
Neal R. Safran, State Bar #72491, Westlake Village (May 13, 2014). Safran, 64, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating funds, and committing an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In January 2009 Safran was hired by a client to represent him on a contingency basis involving a personal injury claim stemming from an automobile accident. In August 2010 Safran settled the client’s personal injury claim for $39,775. Safran deposited the funds he received into a client trust account.

In April 2011 Safran disbursed $13,292 to the client, and the next month he disbursed $325 to pay for the client’s paramedic services. Safran made no other disbursements of settlement funds until February 2013, after the State Bar intervened in the matter. Ultimately, Safran paid all of the outstanding medical liens and disbursed the rest of the client’s settlement.

In aggravation, Safran had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect June 12, 2014

Danielle M. Scherrer, State Bar #271115, Oceanside (June 26, 2014). Scherrer, 36, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. She was charged with misappropriating funds and failing to cooperate with a State Bar investigation. The order took effect July 26, 2014
James J. Seltzer, State Bar #54533, Muntinlupa City, (June 26, 2014). Seltzer, 66, 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 in one client matter, including failing to maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating funds, failing to promptly pay client funds, and failing to participate in a State Bar investigation. The order took effect July 26, 2014
Victoria M. Walter, State Bar #187805, Glen Ellen (June 26, 2014). Walter, 49, 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 Walter had a record of two prior disciplinary matters. The order took effect July 26, 2014
Robert D. Wyatt, State Bar #73240, Walnut Creek (June 5, 2014). Wyatt, 74, was disbarred following his conviction for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which included factual findings involving moral turpitude.

In December 2010 Wyatt drank vodka at his home and drove to a restaurant, where he had dinner and drank one beer. While driving home he hit an 85-year-old resident of the gated senior community where Wyatt lived. The victim was thrown between 38 and 52 feet and suffered a severe head wound. Because Wyatt did not have a cell phone, he drove to the guard station, leaving the victim alone, and reported the incident to the security guard. When the police arrived Wyatt explained that the victim had “streaked” in front of his car and that Wyatt could not avoid the collision. Wyatt told the officer that he had one beer, but he failed the officer’s field sobriety tests. He never mentioned the vodka he drank. The officer then arrested Wyatt, and a blood test revealed his blood-alcohol content was .18 percent. The victim died 60 hours after the accident. Later, in an interview with the police, Wyatt stated that he did not feel he was impaired when the accident occurred. In April 2012 he pleaded nolo contendere to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

A hearing judge determined that the conviction involved moral turpitude because of Wyatt’s disregard of the law, the resulting loss of life, his leaving the victim alone, and making misrepresentations to the police. The hearing judge also recommended disbarment. Wyatt appealed the hearing judge’s decision, seeking a reduction in discipline to a one-year suspension plus credit for time spent on interim suspension. However, the Review Department agreed that the conviction involved moral turpitude.

In aggravation, Wyatt’s misconduct greatly harmed the victim’s family and friends. Wyatt also lacked candor during the proceedings. In mitigation, Wyatt had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1976. In addition, he demonstrated his good character and showed remorse for his misconduct. The order took effect July 5, 2014

SUSPENSION

Rayda Cabanillas-Alas, State Bar #140394, Burbank (April 29, 2014). Cabanillas-Alas, 62, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation for aiding in the unauthorized practice of law, forming a partnership with a nonlawyer, sharing legal fees with a nonlawyer, failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to competently perform legal services, failing to respond to reasonable status inquiries, and failing to promptly refund unearned fees.

In July 2010 Cabanillas-Alas formed a partnership with La Firma Inc., a California corporation operated by a nonattorney. Cabanillas-Alas was the only attorney employed by La Firma and was to provide legal services to its clients in the areas of bankruptcy and immigration law. Cabanillas-Alas and the owners agreed to equally divide legal fees received from clients.

Between July 2010 and April 2013 Cabanillas-Alas performed legal services in accordance with the partnership agreement. During the partnership, nonattorneys gave legal advice to clients to make strategic legal decisions and reported directly to La Firma’s owners, rather than to Cabanillas-Alas. Clients also paid advance legal fees and costs to the partnership for the preparation and filing of Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions. Cabanillas-Alas failed to segregate the advance costs from the total fees, and she did not place the costs into a client trust account. Furthermore, in two cases petitions were not filed with the bankruptcy court. Although clients left messages for Cabanillas-Alas with La Firma’s staff, she did not respond. She failed to file petitions for 30 clients and failed to refund unearned fees.

In aggravation, Cabanillas-Alas engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed her clients. In mitigation, Cabanillas-Alas had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1989. Also, she demonstrated candor by admitting to misconduct outside of the investigation’s scope. In February 2013 Cabanillas-Alas discovered that 40 bankruptcy petitions had not been filed because the principal of La Firma converted the funds to his personal use. She reported the theft to the police, hired a paralegal to help her file the petitions, and used her personal funds to pay filing fees for eleven of the petitions. She contacted the remaining clients and offered to return their files. In addition, Cabanillas-Alas cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 29, 2014

Jonathan G. Gabriel, State Bar #140381, Encino (April 29, 2014). Gabriel, 52, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for seeking to mislead a judge and failing to report a judgment against him within 30 days.

In aggravation, Gabriel engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Gabriel had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1989. Also, he demonstrated good character and cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 29, 2014

John E. Hayes, State Bar #144189, San Luis Obispo (April 29, 2014). Hayes, 52, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services.

In aggravation, Hayes had a record of prior discipline. Also, his misconduct caused significant harm to his client. In mitigation, Hayes cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation, and he demonstrated good character. The order took effect May 29, 2014

Charles T. Marshall, State Bar #176091, San Diego (June 3, 2014). Marshall, 55, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, collecting advance fees in loan-modification matters in violation of Civil Code section 2944.7(a)(1), and failing to promptly refund unearned fees.

In aggravation, Marshall had a record of prior discipline. He committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his clients. In mitigation, Marshall cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect July 3, 2014

John E. Moran, State Bar #94179, Thousand Oaks (April 29, 2014). Moran, 66, was suspended for 30 days and placed on one year of probation for falsely stating to the State Bar that he was in compliance with the minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements, an act involving moral turpitude.

In mitigation, Moran had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1980. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 29, 2014

Paul C. Nguyen, State Bar #204713, Huntington Beach (May 13, 2014). Nguyen, 43, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation and until he shows proof of rehabilitation, fitness to practice law, and pays restitution. He committed 22 acts of misconduct by collecting advance fees in loan-modification matters in violation of Civil Code section 2944.7(a)(1).

In aggravation, Nguyen committed multiple acts of misconduct that caused significant harm to his clients. In mitigation, Nguyen had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1999. Also, he cooperated by agreeing to enter a stipulation. The order took effect June 12, 2014

Gene E. O'Brien, State Bar #99524, Palm Desert (May 13, 2014). O’Brien, 63, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to communicate, failing to refund unearned fees, and failing to render appropriate accounts.

In aggravation, O’Brien’s misconduct caused significant harm to his client. Also, he demonstrated indifference toward his client’s interests. In mitigation, O’Brien had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1981. Also, during the period of his misconduct O’Brien experienced severe emotional difficulties. The order took effect June 12, 2014

Anthony J. Partipilo, State Bar #55991, Simi Valley (April 29, 2014). Partipilo, 67, was suspended for 90 days and placed on three years of probation for maintaining a website with misleading advertising, accepting fees from a nonclient, failing to render appropriate accounts, and failing to maintain client funds in trust. He was found culpable of 6 of 19 counts of misconduct in three client matters.

In aggravation, Partipilo engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Partipilo 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 May 29, 2014

James A. Reichle, State Bar #45807, Greenville (June 3, 2014). Reichle, 70, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation following his conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol with a prior DUI conviction. The facts and circumstances surrounding Reichle’s conviction warranted discipline, even though they did not involve moral turpitude.

In aggravation, Reichle had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, Reichle cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect July 3, 2014

Mark B. Repogle, State Bar #151200, Apache Junction, AZ (April 29, 2014). Replogle, 55, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation and until he pays restitution. Replogle was disciplined for practicing in the states of South Carolina and Minnesota, where he was not licensed to practice law, and for collecting advance fees in loan-modification matters in violation of Civil Code section 2944.7(a)(1).

In aggravation, Replogle’s misconduct caused significant harm to his clients. Also, he committed multiple actions of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Replogle had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1990. In addition, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 29, 2014

David Yu-Kai Tang, State Bar #182357, Westminster (June 3, 2014). Tang, 55, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for accepting compensation to represent a client from a person other than the client, and for committing acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In January 2011 a client hired Maximum Resources Inc. (MRI) to obtain home mortgage loan modification–related services. The client agreed to pay $1,500 as a down payment and $1,000 in monthly payments. MRI was not a law office and was neither owned nor operated by an attorney. In March 2011 MRI hired Tang to file a bankruptcy petition on the client’s behalf in an effort to postpone a foreclosure sale of the client’s home. MRI paid Tang $700. Tang did not obtain the client’s informed written consent prior to accepting MRI’s payment to perform legal services on his behalf. However, Tang did obtain the client’s oral consent to work on his bankruptcy filing. Tang filed a bankruptcy petition on the client’s behalf, ultimately postponing the foreclosure sale of the client’s home and obtaining a dismissal of the client’s bankruptcy petition.

In August 2011 MRI hired Tang to file a second bankruptcy petition on the client’s behalf to prevent another foreclosure sale of the client’s home. MRI paid Tang $1,000. Although the client orally consented to Tang’s employment, Tang again failed to obtain his informed written consent. Tang filed a second bankruptcy petition on the client’s behalf, but he relied on inaccurate valuations that substantially undervalued the client’s business and its inventory. Furthermore, although Tang was told and knew that the valuations were speculative, he made no effort to ascertain the true value of the client’s business and inventory.

In aggravation, Tang’s misconduct constituted gross negligence and harmed the administration of justice. In mitigation, Tang had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1996. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect July 3, 2014

Jeffrey B. Yazel, State Bar #210057, Sacramento (April 23, 2014). Yazel, 49, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for sharing a legal fee with a nonattorney, failing to deposit client funds in trust, and failing to render appropriate accounts.

Yazel was hired as a contract attorney by three entities named US Loan Auditors, US Loan Auditors Inc., and My US Legal Services. The companies hired him to work on predatory-lender lawsuits on behalf of homeowners. The homeowners would hire one of these three companies and paid the companies monthly advance attorneys fees. Then, from the funds paid by the homeowners, these companies paid Yazel $250 per month for each client he was hired to represent in the predatory-lender lawsuits.

From June 2010 through October 2010 Yazel was hired to represent 43 clients through these three companies and was paid $33,700 in fees. Yazel failed to refund any of these fees, which were impermissible fee splits with nonattorneys, to his clients.

In aggravation, Yazel committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Yazel had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 2000. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 23, 2014

Teri S. Zimon, State Bar #213023, Los Angeles (May 13, 2014). Zimon, 39, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to inform her client of another attorney’s malfeasance, to the client’s detriment, an act involving moral turpitude.

Zimon represented multiple business entities owned by her client, covering a variety of matters. In January 2010 Zimon learned that another attorney, who represented the client and his entities, was concurrently advising a creditor of those entities without disclosing the concurrent employment to the business owner or his entities. Zimon also learned that another attorney was colluding with the same creditor in the creditor’s strategy to force several of the business owner’s entities into involuntary bankruptcy proceedings. That attorney also had not disclosed those facts to the business owner or his entities. Despite her knowledge, Zimon did not disclose any of these facts to her client or any representative of his entities, constituting a violation of her common law fiduciary duty to her client.

On March 17, 2010, the creditor filed involuntary petitions against several of the business owner’s entities consistent with the creditor’s strategy and aided by the other attorney. Zimon represented the business owner in at least one of those proceedings. Consequently, Zimon’s failure to disclose the other attorney’s actions deprived the business owner and his entities of the opportunity to prepare a defense for the creditor’s strategy. Moreover, Zimon’s conduct also left the business owner and his other entities unaware of the other attorney’s betrayal.

In aggravation, Zimon’s misconduct significantly harmed her client. In mitigation, Zimon had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 2001. Also, she cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect June 12, 2014

There are no recent disciplinary actions of this type.