MAGAZINE
California Lawyer

DISBARMENT

Clarence M. Balingit, State Bar #194890, Florence, AZ (January 9, 2013). Balingit, 48, was disbarred for failing to timely comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. In aggravation, Balingit had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect February 8, 2013
Enid G. Ballantyne, State Bar #84279, Pasadena (January 23, 2013). Ballantyne, 69, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to render an accounting, failing to promptly pay client funds, and engaging in an act involving moral turpitude.

In 2005, a client employed Ballantyne to represent her in various legal matters. In June 2006, the client inherited $259,000. The client requested that Ballantyne hold the funds in a client trust account because she owed money to the IRS. After advising the client of the potential criminal consequences of not filing federal tax returns, Ballantyne agreed to hold the money in her trust account.

The following year Ballantyne began experiencing financial difficulties and started to take some of the client’s money from the trust account to cover her own expenses. In July 2008 the client retained a new attorney, who wrote to Ballantyne inquiring about the funds and requesting an accounting. Ballantyne did not respond to the letter. In January 2009 Ballantyne wrote the client a letter acknowledging that she had made a mistake, and she promised to begin making monthly repayments of $500. Seven months later, the client’s new lawyer once again sent Ballantyne a letter demanding an accounting. Ballantyne made some payments to the client, but she still owed a balance of $11,725. Finally, in February 2011, the client filed a complaint with the State Bar.

In aggravation, Ballantyne committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed her client. In mitigation, she had no record of discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1978. Also, she entered into an extensive stipulation of facts. The order took effect February 22, 2013

Jennifer J. Beerman, State Bar #207877, La Quinta (December 31, 2012). Beerman, 40, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to promptly pay funds that a client was entitled to receive, and committing an act involving moral turpitude.

In aggravation, Beerman’s misconduct significantly harmed her client. Also, she engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Beerman had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 2000. The order took effect January 31, 2013

Wyman P. Berryessa, State Bar #196843, Beirut, (January 25, 2013). Berryessa, 40, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. The order took effect February 24, 2013
Susana R. Chung, State Bar #177006, Los Angeles (January 9, 2013). Chung, 62, was disbarred for filing fraudulent cases against insurance carriers involving staged accidents, felonies involving moral turpitude.

In 2011 Chung was charged with 28 felonies, including 12 counts of violating Penal Code § 549, which involved unlawful solicitation, acceptance, or referral of business with knowledge of, or reckless disregard for, intent to file fraudulent claims. She was also charged with several counts related to insurance fraud.

The criminal prosecution was the result of a four-year investigation conducted by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Insurance, and the California Highway Patrol. Called “Phantom Menace,” the probe revealed that from 2003 through 2007, Chung paid fees to a capper and submitted false and fraudulent insurance claims for at least 12 staged automobile accidents, including fraudulent chiropractic treatment and inflated damages. Several individuals involved in the fraudulent insurance scheme were also convicted. Chung profited by keeping portions of the payments received from the insurance carriers. At all times, Chung knew that the cases she was purchasing from the capper were fraudulently staged accidents.

In May 2011 Chung entered a plea of no contest and was convicted of two felony violations of Penal Code § 549. She was sentenced to two days in jail and five years of probation. In addition, she was ordered to pay restitution of $118,000 to the victims of her misconduct, and $118,000 in fines to the court. The conviction is now final, and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment.

In aggravation, Chung committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that demonstrated a pattern of misconduct. Moreover, her misconduct was surrounded by bad faith and dishonesty that caused significant harm to the public and the administration of justice. Also, she demonstrated indifference by refusing to timely pay restitution to the victims or fines to the court. In mitigation, Chung cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 8, 2013

Frank W. Dedman, Jr., State Bar #39050, Sacramento (January 9, 2013). Dedman, 72, was disbarred for collecting advance fees in connection with loan modification work in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), and for failing to refund unearned fees.

In aggravation, Dedman had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect February 8, 2013

Eugene M. Hannon, State Bar #85632, Walnut Creek (January 15, 2013). Hannon, 65, was disbarred for misappropriating funds, violating a court order, and committing acts involving moral turpitude.

In aggravation, Hannon committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. His misconduct caused significant harm to his client, and he failed to make restitution. Also, he failed to appreciate or understand the wrongfulness of his conduct. In mitigation, Hannon had no record of discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1979. He cooperated by entering into a stipulation of facts. The order took effect February 14, 2013

John M. Harrison, State Bar #144964, Newport Beach (January 15, 2013). Harrison, 60, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries, failing to refund unearned fees, aiding in the unauthorized practice of law, negotiating an advance fee for loan modification services, failing to communicate with a client, soliciting for loan modification services, and accepting the representation of clients in a jurisdiction where he was not licensed to practice law.

In May 2009 a client signed a retainer agreement with Harrison for a home loan modification matter and authorized him to take from his bank account $3,750 in advance legal fees. Between then and August, the client called Harrison’s law office numerous times to inquire about the status of the case, but Harrison did not respond. In August the client requested a refund of unearned fees. In September the client received a notice of foreclosure from his lender, Bank of America, and he filed for bankruptcy. Harrison provided no services of value to the client and did not refund any portion of the legal fees.

In a second matter, in September 2009 two clients in Hawaii received an unsolicited mailing from Waypoint Law Group Inc., which was run by Harrison, notifying them that they had been pre-selected for a loan modification.

Harrison was not admitted to practice law in Hawaii. The clients called Waypoint and spoke to a nonattorney employee, who informed them that they would be charged a flat fee of $4,450 for a loan modification. The clients agreed to hire Waypoint and paid the fee. That November, Bank of America told the clients that it had received documentation from Waypoint, but advised them to negotiate with the bank directly because they would not be charged a fee. The clients received a fee refund of $2,175 from Bank of America, but Harrison never refunded the advance legal fees he had accepted.

There were twelve other matters involving similar conduct that warranted discipline.

In aggravation, Harrison had a record of prior discipline, and he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his clients. In mitigation, Harrison cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation of facts. The order took effect February 14, 2013

Kevin M. Healy, State Bar #173479, Santa Rosa (January 16, 2013). Healy, 50, was disbarred for maintaining an unjust action and committing acts of moral turpitude by engaging in a lengthy pattern of vexatious litigation that caused significant harm to his former client and to the administration of justice.

In aggravation, Healy had a record of prior discipline. Over the course of four years, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing by filing frivolous pleadings and disobeying court orders, thereby establishing a significant pattern of misconduct. Also, he demonstrated a lack of remorse and insight regarding his actions. The order took effect February 15, 2013

Frank J. Ingrassia, State Bar #123918, West Palm Beach, FL (January 9, 2013). Ingrassia, 53, was disbarred following his conviction in Florida for forgery and publishing forged documents, felonies involving moral turpitude.

On December 21, 2010, Ingrassia pleaded guilty to forgery and uttering forged instruments in violation of Florida Statutes §§ 831.01 and 831.02.2. The conviction is now final, and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect February 8, 2013

John E. Jones, State Bar #69051, Daly City (January 15, 2013). Jones, 69, was disbarred for failing to participate in disciplinary proceedings after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In June 2011 Jones was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation. He failed to comply with conditions to the disciplinary order, and failed to comply with rule 9.20 of the Rules of Court. The order took effect February 14, 2013

Kevin P. Kelley, State Bar #140462, Santa Ana (January 25, 2013). Kelley, 55, was disbarred for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Kelley had a record of prior discipline, and he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed his client. Also, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct by failing to promptly refund unearned fees. In mitigation, Kelley cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 24, 2013

Steven P. Mancuso, State Bar #218585, Utica, NY (January 9, 2013). Mancuso, 41, was disbarred following his conviction for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, a felony involving moral turpitude.

In June 2010 a New York court found Mancuso guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1341, a felony involving moral turpitude. The conviction is now final, and the State Bar has concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect February 8, 2013

John A. Pettis, State Bar #51334, Pleasant Hill (January 9, 2013). Pettis, 66, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so, and failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline. The order took effect February 8, 2013
Rene W. Sanz, State Bar #175351, Los Angeles (January 15, 2013). Sanz, 45, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to promptly pay client funds, misappropriating funds, failing to competently perform legal services, making false statements, and failing to return unearned fees.

In aggravation, Sanz committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused significant harm to his clients. In mitigation, Sanz had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1994. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 14, 2013

Charles J. Slone, State Bar #146307, San Jose (January 9, 2013). Slone, 50, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In 2009 Slone was convicted of violating Penal Code § 148(a)(1), resisting arrest, based on his actions following an arrest for public intoxication. Although the facts and circumstances surrounding Slone’s conviction did not involve moral turpitude, they did constitute other misconduct warranting discipline. His conviction is now final, and the State Bar has concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect February 8, 2013

Stephen S. Smith, State Bar #108137, Venice (January 25, 2013). Smith, 65, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. The order took effect February 24, 2013
Cynthia A. Thomas, State Bar #96180, Elk Grove (January 9, 2013). Thomas, 57, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. The order took effect February 8, 2013
James A. Wall, State Bar #197981, Napa (January 15, 2013). Wall, 55, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. The order took effect February 14, 2013

SUSPENSION

Judy L. Beres, State Bar #210161, Glendale (January 25, 2013). Beres, 49, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation following her misdemeanor convictions for violating Health and Safety Code § 11357(c), possession of more than one ounce of marijuana, and Penal Code § 273a(b), child endangerment.

In mitigation, Beres had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 2000, and she cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 24, 2013

Matthew J. Erwin, State Bar #198280, Orange (January 15, 2013). Erwin, 38, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation following his convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and reckless driving, both felonies involving moral turpitude.

In November 2011 Erwin was convicted of felony violations of Penal Code § 245 (a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, and Vehicle Code § 2800.2(a), evading a police officer: reckless driving. His sentence included 180 days in jail (later reduced to 90 days), restitution, fines, fees, and an order to stay away from the victim Erwin nearly struck with his vehicle. Erwin was also ordered to comply with any plan for psychiatric, psychological, or alcohol/drug treatment or counseling directed by the probation department.

In aggravation, Erwin harmed an off-duty firefighter by attempting to run him over. Erwin engaged in four acts of criminal misconduct in three separate incidents spread over several months. He also had been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in August 2007. In mitigation, Erwin had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1998, and he cooperated with the investigation and proceedings. The order took effect February 14, 2013

John H. Kibbler, State Bar #164834, Upland (January 30, 2013). Kibbler, 59, was suspended for nine months and placed on two years of probation for failing to maintain client funds in trust, violating a court order, and committing an act involving moral turpitude.

In aggravation, the misconduct involved client trust funds. In mitigation, Kibbler had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1993. His misconduct did not harm his client, and he paid restitution without the threat of disciplinary, civil, or criminal proceedings. The order took effect March 2, 2013

Andrew P. Mullaly, State Bar #185716, El Cajon (January 15, 2013). Mullaly, 43, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Mullaly had a record of prior discipline. Also, he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing, and he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 14, 2013

Daniel M. Noveck, State Bar #223927, Beverly Hills (December 31, 2012). Noveck, 60, was suspended for 90 days and placed on three years of probation for signing the names of his clients to declarations filed and served on opposing counsel, employing means that were inconsistent with truth, and disobeying a court order.

In aggravation, the count found that Noveck’s motion to quash or modify subpoenas was frivolous and unnecessarily expended the resources of the court and the opposing party. In mitigation, Noveck had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 2002, and he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect January 31, 2013

William C. Seiffert, State Bar #140291, Citrus Heights (January 25, 2013). Seiffert, 59, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to keep a client informed of significant developments, failing to take reasonable steps to avoid prejudice to a client, failing to render appropriate accounts, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary proceeding.

In aggravation, Seiffert engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. His delay in refunding unearned fees demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, Seiffert had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1989. Also, he entered into a stipulation prior to trial. The order took effect February 24, 2013

Scott R. Weber, State Bar #217702, The Villages, FL (January 9, 2013). Weber, 38, was suspended for 90 days and placed on one year of probation following his conviction for resisting arrest.

In November 2010 Weber, while intoxicated, approached a police officer who was questioning suspects at the scene of a bar fight. Despite the officer’s instructions to wait until she completed her interview, Weber continued his attempts to speak with her. When the officer attempted to place Weber under arrest, he resisted and physically struck another officer. He was arrested for battery upon an officer, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, and public intoxication.

In June 2011 Weber was convicted of violating Penal Code § 69, obstructing or resisting an executive officer, and Penal Code § 148(a)(I), resisting, delaying, or obstructing a peace officer, both misdemeanors. He was sentenced to 36 months of summary probation, with conditions that included 30 days in jail.

In aggravation, Weber’s arrest occurred while he was on summary probation following a prior conviction for driving under the influence and during the related reproval period following discipline by the State Bar. In mitigation, Weber cooperated by entering into a stipulation prior to trial. The order took effect February 8, 2013

Brian D. Wirsching, State Bar #189491, Eugene, OR (January 9, 2013). Wirsching, 43, was suspended for 60 days and placed on three years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline; violating Vehicle Code § 23152(b), driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or more, a misdemeanor; and failing to update his State Bar membership records.

In aggravation, Wirsching had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings. The order took effect February 8, 2013

PROBATION

Glenn W. Calsada, State Bar #134589, Calabasas (January 9, 2013). Calabasas (Jan. 9). Calsada, 53, was placed on two years of probation for failing to promptly disburse client funds.

In mitigation, Calsada had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1988. Further, he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 8, 2013

Kimberly S. Daniels, State Bar #195839, Grover Beach (January 9, 2013). Daniels, 56, was placed on one year of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Daniels had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, she cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 8, 2013

Steven C. Lynes, State Bar #174020, Roseville (January 9, 2013). Lynes, 44, was placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to respond to reasonable status inquiries, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation.

In aggravation, Lynes had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect February 8, 2013

Peter W. Scalisi, State Bar #90131, Huntington Beach (January 15, 2013). Scalisi, 58, was placed on three years of probation for failing to promptly respond to reasonable status inquires, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, and violating Vehicle Code § 23103(a), alcohol-related reckless driving, a misdemeanor.

In aggravation, Scalisi’s misconduct harmed his client. In mitigation, Scalisi had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1979, and he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 14, 2013

Rhonda K. Walker, State Bar #175108, Arcadia (January 9, 2013). Walker, 43, was placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services.

In aggravation, Walker had a record of prior discipline, and her misconduct demonstrated a pattern of wrongdoing. In mitigation, she cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings, and stipulated to her misconduct. The order took effect February 8, 2013

There are no recent disciplinary actions of this type.