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November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014

DISBARMENT

David A. Cohn, State Bar #184380, Woodland Hills (January 15, 2014). DavCohn, 55, was disbarred following his conviction on several felony counts, some involving moral turpitude. The crimes included violating Penal Code §§ 664 and 288.3(a) (attempted contact with a minor for sexual offense); § 311.11(a) (possession of matter depicting minor engaging in sexual conduct); § 288.4(a)(1) (arrange meeting with a minor for lewd purposes); §§ 664, 288.2(a), and 288.2(b) (attempted sending of harmful matter to a minor); and §§ 664 and 288(a) (attempted lewd act upon a child).

The convictions are now final, and the State Bar concluded they met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect February 14, 2014

Earl T. Durham, State Bar #74349, Mazatlan, (January 7, 2014). Durham, 77, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In October 2012 Durham failed to appear at a disciplinary trial by the State Bar Court. The court then entered his default to charges pending against him, and placed him on involuntary inactive status. The court notified Durham that his failure to set aside or vacate the default could result in his disbarment. Nevertheless, Durham failed to have his default set aside or vacated, prompting the State Bar to petition for disbarment.

Durham later attempted to set aside his default and requested permission to resign. However, the State Bar refused, noting Durham’s record of prior discipline and his failure to pay restitution stemming from past misconduct. Consequently, the State Bar Court recommended his disbarment. The order took effect February 6, 2014

Gregory T. Flahive, State Bar #190088, Folsom (January 7, 2014). Flahive, 41, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), failing to refund unearned fees, and aiding a person in the unauthorized practice of law.

In April 2010 Flahive was hired by husband-and-wife clients to negotiate a home loan modification. The clients paid Flahive $1,495 in advance fees, but Flahive performed no work of value on the matter and did not negotiate with the clients’ lender. In August 2010 the bank foreclosed on the clients’ home.

In a second matter the same year, Flahive was hired in February by husband-and-wife clients to represent them in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The clients agreed to pay Flahive $1,295 in advance fees, plus a $299 court filing fee and a $150 credit validation fee. Despite this, Flahive did not take any action on the bankruptcy matter. The clients eventually were informed that they did not qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Flahive provided no services of value, and never refunded his attorneys fees. There were two other matters involving misconduct warranting discipline.

In aggravation, Flahive had a record of prior discipline. He engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed his clients. The order took effect February 6, 2014

Thomas D. Grabinski, State Bar #147442, Grinnell, IA (January 7, 2014). Grabinski, 54, was disbarred following his felony conviction in Arizona. In July 2006 a jury found Grabinski guilty of violating Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-2310 (fraudulent schemes and artifices) for conduct that occurred between January 1994 and August 1999, while Grabinski served as vice president and general counsel of a charitable corporation. He was convicted of fraudulently obtaining approximately $345 million in investment funds and sentenced to six years in prison. The conviction is now final, and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect February 6, 2014
Sean C. Hickey, State Bar #159116, Fremont (January 7, 2014). Hickey, 52, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Hickey was charged with failing to comply with conditions to two prior orders of discipline. The order took effect February 6, 2014
Ronald D. Jaman, State Bar #48057, Alhambra (January 7, 2014). Jaman, 70, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Jaman was charged with seven counts of misconduct for failing to maintain client funds in trust, engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, violating conditions to a previous order of discipline, and committing acts involving moral turpitude. The order took effect February 6, 2014
Anthony J. Kassas, State Bar #227647, San Francisco (January 15, 2014). Kassas, 37, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.

In July 2011 Kassas pleaded guilty to two counts of violating a protective order (Penal Code § 273.6(a), misdemeanors that may involve moral turpitude. The superior court imposed a suspended sentence, placed Kassas on three years of informal probation, ordered him to complete eight hours of community service, and fined him $870. He had also been charged with 52 counts of improperly soliciting legal matters, 56 counts of aiding the unauthorized practice of law, 56 counts of accepting advance fees in loan modification matters in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a), 56 counts of failing to render appropriate accounts, 55 counts of engaging in acts involving moral turpitude, 5 counts of failing to competently perform legal services, 3 counts of failing to return unearned fees, 1 count of forming a partnership with a nonlawyer, and 1 count of sharing fees with a nonlawyer. The order took effect February 14, 2014

Francis H. Lewis, Jr., State Bar #61894, Daly City (January 15, 2014). Lewis, 76, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Lewis was charged with failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court, and failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline. The order took effect February 14, 2014
Joseph G. Maiorano, State Bar #113876, San Diego (December 31, 2013). Maiorano, 57, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to promptly return client funds, misappropriating funds, and entering into a business transaction with a client.

In October 2010 Maiorano settled a civil action for $35,000 with his client’s approval, and deposited the funds into his client trust account. Based on an oral agreement with his client, Maiorano believed he was entitled to 30 percent of the $35,000 as his contingency fee, but he claimed he had incurred fees in excess of $25,000. By November 2010 the balance in the client trust account was $1,861.

The client disputed the amount Maiorano had withdrawn. In the end, Maiorano failed to maintain client funds in trust, and he failed to pay the settlement funds to the client until April 2012.

In a second matter, in April 2009 Maiorano was hired to represent a client in a personal injury suit against a tow-truck company. The client was entitled to at least $400,000 of the settlement amount. Maiorano was required to maintain a certain amount in his client trust account, but he permitted the balance to drop $9,000 below that level. In addition, Maiorano loaned money to his client without complying with rule 3-300 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which governs business transactions with a client.

In aggravation, Maiorano had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, he paid restitution, presented evidence of good character, and cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect January 30, 2014

Roy Newman, State Bar #260156, La Jolla (January 7, 2014). Newman, 35, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Newman was charged with eleven counts of misconduct arising from three client matters. The charges included failing to competently perform legal services, failing to refund unearned fees, failing to respond to client inquiries, failing to release a client’s file, failing to update his State Bar membership address, and failing to cooperate in a State Bar investigation. The California Supreme Court subsequently ordered Newman to pay $8,000 plus interest in restitution to three clients. The order took effect February 6, 2014
Richard J. Nikas, State Bar #183768, Newport Beach (January 7, 2014). Nikas, 45, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Nikas was charged with six counts of misconduct stemming from one client matter. He was charged with failing to competently perform legal services, failing to respond to client inquiries, failing to render appropriate accounts, improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to refund unearned fees, and failing to update his membership address. The California Supreme Court subsequently ordered Nikas to pay $6,345 plus interest in restitution to his client. The order took effect February 6, 2014
Dennis E. Powell, State Bar #68376, Sequim, WA (January 15, 2014). Powell, 67, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Powell was charged with failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect February 14, 2014
Joseph E. Sheerin, State Bar #219244, Calpine (January 7, 2014). Sheerin, 50, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Sheerin was charged with multiple counts of misconduct in three client matters, including failing to competently perform legal services, violating court orders, failing to prepare and serve discovery responses, failing to pay sanctions, failing to report sanctions, and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary proceeding. The order took effect February 6, 2014
Edgar J. Steele, State Bar #104928, Sagle, ID (December 31, 2013). Steele, 68, was disbarred for failing to participate in a disciplinary proceeding after receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so. Steele was charged with failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect January 30, 2014

SUSPENSION

Daniel H. Afari, State Bar #237832, Beverly Hills (January 7, 2014). Afari, 36, was suspended for one year and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating funds, failing to promptly pay client funds, and failing to cooperate with a State Bar investigation.

In aggravation, Afari committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar during its disciplinary proceedings and made restitution to his clients. At the time of his misconduct, Afari was experiencing emotional difficulties. The order took effect February 6, 2014

Leon Arakelian, State Bar #243180, Pasadena (January 7, 2014). Arakelian, 38, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to respond to client inquiries, failing to refund unearned fees, failing to render appropriate accounts, engaging in acts of moral turpitude, and failing to cooperate with a State Bar investigation.

In aggravation, Arakelian committed multiple acts of wrongdoing in four client matters. In addition, his misconduct caused his clients significant harm, and he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, Arakelian had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 2006. The order took effect February 6, 2014

David J. Carriere, State Bar #178002, Corte Madera (January 14, 2014). Carriere, 44, was suspended for one year for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Carriere had a record of prior discipline, and he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. The order took effect February 13, 2014

Byron E. Congdon, State Bar #123286, San Bernardino (January 14, 2014). Congdon, 67, was suspended for two years for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Congdon had a record of prior discipline, and he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. The order took effect February 13, 2014

Martin I. Cutler, State Bar #139536, Los Angeles (January 7, 2014). Cutler, 50, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for commingling funds, engaging in acts of moral turpitude, and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation.

In aggravation, Cutler committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, he had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1989. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 6, 2014

Steven A. Geringer, State Bar #107826, Madera (January 15, 2014). Geringer, 63, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for improperly withdrawing from employment.

In December 2008 Geringer substituted into a client’s lawsuit against the City of Madera Police Department for alleged civil rights violations. In 2010 the city filed two motions for summary judgment. Geringer believed filing an opposition would be futile, and he conveyed that opinion to his client. Later, Geringer urged his client to seek other representation if he decided to file an opposition. Geringer enclosed a substitution of attorney for the client’s signature, but the client never signed it. As such, the substitution of attorney was invalid.

The district court ultimately granted the city’s motions for summary judgment. Geringer informed his client there was no basis for filing an appeal. Between March 2010 and April 2011 Geringer took no action on the client’s behalf. He neither advised the court that he was no longer representing the client, nor sought permission to withdraw from representation.

In 2011 the client filed a motion for reconsideration and executed the 2010 substitution of attorney. The client also asked whether he could represent himself. He claimed he was not aware of the city’s motions for summary judgment, and therefore had not filed a response. A magistrate judge later found that Geringer had effectively abandoned the client. In addition, the judge recommended that the district court provide relief by granting the client’s motion for reconsideration and setting aside the summary judgment motions in the city’s favor.

In aggravation, Geringer had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect February 14, 2014

Stephen A. Harvey, State Bar #47976, Willow Creek (January 15, 2014). Harvey, 72, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation for practicing law while on inactive status resulting from his failure to comply with the State Bar’s minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements, an act involving moral turpitude.

In aggravation, Harvey engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused harm to the administration of justice. In mitigation, Harvey had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1971. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 14, 2014

Bradley L. Jensen, State Bar #182272, Aliso Viejo (January 15, 2014). Jensen, 47, was suspended for 120 days and placed on two years of probation following his conviction for misdemeanor child endangerment. In March 2011 Jensen, along with his wife and two children, visited Los Angeles and stayed at a hotel in Santa Monica. While his wife was away working, Jensen left his nine-month-old daughter napping in her crib and went for a walk with his three-year-old son. His daughter’s crib was placed in the bathtub of the hotel room. A hotel bellman later found the baby crying in the bathroom, and hotel staff attempted to contact Jensen. Jensen returned at least 40 minutes later and was confronted by police officers. The officers concluded that the children were in an unsafe environment, arrested Jensen, and took the children into protective custody.

Jensen was charged with violating Penal Code § 273(a), subdivision (b) (misdemeanor child endangerment). In November 2011 Jensen pleaded no contest to the charge. The superior court sentenced him to two years of informal probation, imposed a fine, granted credit for one day in jail, and ordered Jensen to complete 52 weeks of parenting classes.

In aggravation, Jensen had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, he promptly accepted responsibility for his misconduct, and he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 14, 2014

Cesar A. Lopez, State Bar #195868, Pico Rivera (December 31, 2013). Lopez, 47, was suspended for one year and placed on two years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In March 2011 Lopez entered into a stipulation with the State Bar that required him to comply with certain conditions to a disciplinary order. Lopez, however, failed to contact the Office of Probation by the agreed deadline, failed to submit written quarterly reports in a timely manner, failed to pay required restitution to one of his former clients, and failed to provide proof that he had attended State Bar Ethics School.

In aggravation, Lopez had a record of prior discipline, and he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, at the time of his misconduct Lopez was experiencing personal problems. He cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect January 30, 2014

Lisa B. Nevarez, State Bar #206226, Cypress (January 14, 2014). Nevarez, 43, was suspended for one year and placed on three years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In February 2013 Nevarez violated the terms of her criminal probation following convictions for driving under the influence of drugs in 2007 and driving under the influence of alcohol in 2012. The State Bar had determined that these offenses did not involve moral turpitude, but involved other misconduct warranting discipline. As a condition of her disciplinary probation, she was required to comply with all the terms of her criminal probation.

In aggravation, Nevarez had a record of prior discipline. Also, she committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. The order took effect February 13, 2014

Janice E. Polglase, State Bar #140759, Fresno (December 31, 2013). Polglase, 54, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation following her conviction for petty theft, an act involving moral turpitude.

In March 2008 Polglase entered a retail store and hid $487 worth of merchandise in her bag. She then left the store without paying for the merchandise. The store’s security employees caught Polglase and called the police. Polglase was arrested, and she admitted stealing the items.

Shortly afterward, Polglase voluntarily sought help through the Lawyer Assistance Program and reported the criminal case to the State Bar. The following February, she pleaded no contest to violating Penal Code § 484(a), petty theft, a misdemeanor. She was given a suspended sentence of three years.

In mitigation, Polglase had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1989. She was continuing ongoing professional medical and psycho/medical treatment that began before the incident. Also, she cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect January 30, 2014

Burke W. Willsey, State Bar #68510, Shadow Hills (January 15, 2014). Willsey, 80, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In August 2011 the State Bar Court placed Willsey on probation, requiring him to comply with various terms and conditions. However, Willsey failed to timely submit two written quarterly reports, and he failed to timely pay restitution to two clients.

In aggravation, Willsey had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Willsey cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect February 14, 2014

PROBATION

Donald Mah, State Bar #158045, Fairfield (December 31, 2013). Mah, 55, was placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly release a client’s file upon termination of employment, failing to refund unearned fees, and failing to cooperate in a State Bar investigation.

In aggravation, Mah had a record of prior discipline. Also, he engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. The order took effect January 30, 2014

There are no recent disciplinary actions of this type.