MAGAZINE
California Lawyer

DISBARMENT

Ryan C. Aulis, State Bar #257276, San Diego (November 28, 2011). Aulis, 31, was disbarred after being convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.

In February 2011 Aulis pleaded guilty to violating Penal Code § 470(d), forgery. The conviction is now final and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect December 28, 2011

Gustav G. Bujkovsky, State Bar #47528, Escondido (November 28, 2011). Bujkovsky, 69, was disbarred after being convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.

In August 2010 Bujkovsky pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. § 1505, a felony. The conviction is now final and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect December 28, 2011

Carlos E. Castaneda, State Bar #140786, San Diego (November 28, 2011). Castaneda, 55, was disbarred for failing to comply with a previous order of discipline.

In November 2009 Castaneda was placed on three years of probation related to prior charges. Thereafter, he failed to comply with conditions to his probation.

In aggravation, Castaneda had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Cheryl Chambers, State Bar #189577, Oakland (November 2, 2011). Chambers, 52, was disbarred for engaging in acts involving moral turpitude.

In 2001 Chambers was hired by husband-and-wife clients to draft a living trust. When the husband died, the trust became irrevocable and the wife was placed in an assisted living facility.

Chambers was asked to handle the renovation and sale of the remaining client’s home. In September 2006 the home was sold for $1.22 million. Chambers used the proceeds to pay for the client’s care until her death in August 2008. However, she also made numerous withdrawals from the funds for her own use and benefit. In total, Chambers misappropriated $800,000.

In aggravation, Chambers’s misconduct was surrounded by bad faith and dishonesty. Her misconduct caused significant harm to the beneficiaries of her clients’ trust. In mitigation, Chambers had no record of discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1997. She cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings and displayed remorse for her misconduct. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Sylvia P. Colon-Vasquez, State Bar #170766, Turlock (November 17, 2011). Colon-Vasquez, 49, was disbarred after being convicted of felonies involving moral turpitude.

In March 2011 Colon-Vasquez pleaded nolo contendere to four counts of violating Penal Code § 487(a), grand theft. The conviction is now final and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect December 17, 2011

Steven R. Davis, State Bar #182231, Modesto (November 2, 2011). Davis, 50, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust and disobeying a court order.

In aggravation, Davis had a record of prior discipline. Also, he engaged in multiple acts of misconduct. In mitigation, Davis cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Thomas A. Hawbaker, State Bar #140654, Omaha, NE (November 9, 2011). Hawbaker, 54, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to account for client funds, misappropriating funds, and engaging in acts of moral turpitude.

In aggravation, Hawbaker engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that involved the client trust account. His misconduct significantly harmed his client. Further, he failed to demonstrate remorse for his wrongdoing. In mitigation, Hawbaker had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1989. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Bruce E. Karatz, State Bar #48088, Los Angeles (November 30, 2011). Karatz, 66, was disbarred following his conviction for a felony involving moral turpitude.

In April 2010 Karatz was found guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. § 1341, mail fraud, and for making false statements in a quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The conviction is now final and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment.

In aggravation, Karatz’s offense involves moral turpitude. The order took effect December 30, 2011

Michael S. Kucsan, State Bar #187828, Atlanta, GA (November 28, 2011). Kucsan, 41, was disbarred following his conviction for stalking, a felony, making telephone calls with the intent to annoy, a misdemeanor, and engaging in acts of moral turpitude.

From 2005 through 2008, Kucsan deliberately harassed a female employee of the Riverside County Superior Court. He routinely telephoned the victim and would hang up without saying a word. This continued after the victim was transferred to other courthouses. In one incident, Kucsan made racist comments to the victim. A wiretap was installed in the fall of 2008, which revealed that Kucsan had made the calls. He eventually confessed.

In February 2009 Kucsan pleaded guilty to one count of stalking with a hate crime enhancement, and one count of making telephone calls with the intent to annoy or harass. The conviction is now final and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment.

In aggravation, Kucsan deliberately lied to investigators, and he displayed indifference toward rectification of or atonement for the consequences of his misconduct. The order took effect December 28, 2011

Benjamin T. Woun Lee, State Bar #169034, Torrance (November 9, 2011). Lee, 46, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly respond to a client’s reasonable status inquiries, failing to provide an accounting, failing to refund unearned fees, failing to release a client’s file, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, Lee had a record of prior discipline, and his misconduct resulted in significant harm to his client. Also, he failed to cooperate with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Shelli J. Lewis-Gonzales, State Bar #170161, Riverside (November 28, 2011). Lewis-Gonzales, 47, was disbarred after being convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.

In January 2011 Lewis-Gonzales pleaded guilty to grand theft, a felony. The conviction is now final and the State Bar concluded that it met the criteria for summary disbarment. The order took effect December 28, 2011. Richard Anthony Mata, State Bar # 162513, Temecula (November 28). Mata, 55, was disbarred for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries, failing to provide an accounting, and failing to promptly refund unearned fees.

In September 2009 a client hired Mata to provide her with loan modification services. Mata charged $1,595 in fees. In the month that followed the client repeatedly phoned Mata, but no one was available to speak with her. In late October 2009 one of Mata’s employees informed the client by email that Mata’s office had closed and his whereabouts were unknown. Mata did not give his client prior notice, submit a loan modification on her behalf, provide an accounting, or refund any portion of the advance fees. Other clients were similarly affected when Mata ceased providing legal services.

In aggravation, Mata’s clients were seriously harmed by his misconduct. Mata failed to respond to State Bar investigators in seven client matters, and he failed to participate in the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 28, 2011

Glenn D. Nelson, State Bar #74832, Bakersfield (November 2, 2011). Nelson, 61, was disbarred for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline, and for misrepresenting to the State Bar that he was in compliance.

In aggravation, Nelson had a record of prior discipline. Also, he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for the consequences of his misconduct. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Philip N. Officer, State Bar #47031, Apple Valley (November 2, 2011). Officer, 73, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating funds, misrepresenting facts to the court, disobeying court orders, and engaging in acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In 2006 Officer represented a client in marital dissolution proceedings. The parties stipulated that Officer was to deposit proceeds from the sale of the client’s family home into his client trust account, disburse $10,000 to each party, and hold the remaining sum pending disposition by the court.

Thereafter, Officer received three checks totaling $184,255, which he deposited into the client trust account. After disbursing $41,000 to his client, $46,000 to her husband, and $4,800 to himself in fees, Officer was required to maintain $92,128 in the account. By May 2008 all the money had been withdrawn. In March 2009 Officer told the court he had maintained the funds in another account. The court ordered Officer to provide proof, but he failed to do so.

In aggravation, Officer failed to cooperate with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Barry M. Orlyn, State Bar #37228, Los Angeles (November 17, 2011). Orlyn, 76, was disbarred for failing to comply with rule 9.20 of the Rules of Court. In March 2010 Orlyn was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for misappropriating client funds. Conditions to the discipline required him to notify clients and opposing counsel of the suspension within 30 days and to file an affidavit of compliance within 40 days. He failed to timely file the affidavit. In aggravation, Orlyn had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect December 17, 2011
Terrell W. Proctor, State Bar #206555, Downey (November 9, 2011). Proctor, 41, was disbarred for aiding persons in the unauthorized practice of law, failing to competently perform legal services, and failing to refund unearned fees.

In April 2010 an attorney and his office manager hired Proctor to make appearances and help with client management at the attorney’s office. The attorney ceased operating the law firm the following July, and Proctor became the attorney of record.

In one of six consolidated matters, a client met with the office manager in November 2010 and signed retainer agreements to obtain loan modifications on three properties. The firm’s accountant signed the agreements on behalf of the company. When the client expressed discomfort that a nonattorney was signing the retainer agreements, Proctor initialed them and assured her that he was the attorney of record.

In December 2010 and January 2011 the client received foreclosure notices on all three properties. Proctor told her he would file a lawsuit that would stop the foreclosures, but he failed to do so. On the day before one of her properties was to be sold, Proctor told the client he would file a bankruptcy petition on her behalf to prevent the foreclosure sale, but he requested additional fees to do so. Two of the properties were sold shortly thereafter. The client requested the return of unearned fees, but Proctor failed to provide a refund.

In mitigation, Proctor had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 2000. He demonstrated remorse for his misconduct, but he was unable to reimburse clients. Also, Proctor cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Mark I. Rose, State Bar #62557, Beverly Hills (November 28, 2011). Rose, 62, was disbarred for failing to maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating funds, failing to pay funds to clients and medical providers that they were entitled to receive, failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly respond to a client’s reasonable status inquiries, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, Rose had a record of prior discipline. His actions caused significant harm to a client and showed a pattern of misconduct. In mitigation, Rose cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. During the period of his misconduct he experienced personal and financial problems. The order took effect December 28, 2011

Yefim M. Shlionsky, State Bar #237892, Los Angeles (November 9, 2011). Shlionsky, 33, was disbarred for violating rule 9.20 of the Rules of Court.

In April 2010 Shlionsky was suspended for one year and placed on three years of probation. Conditions to the discipline required him to make restitution, and to notify clients and opposing counsel of his suspension within 30 days and file an affidavit of compliance within 40 days. He failed to comply with the conditions.

In aggravation, Shlionsky had a record of prior discipline, and he demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. Also, he failed to cooperate with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Russell H. Takasugi, State Bar #118792, Simi Valley (November 2, 2011). Takasugi, 57, was disbarred for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

In July 2009 Takasugi, while suspended from practice, appeared for a hearing on behalf of clients. Later that month he appeared on behalf of another client, and for trial on behalf of a third client. None of the clients was prejudiced by the court appearances.

In aggravation, Takasugi had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, he reported his unauthorized practice to the State Bar’s Probation Unit. He acted in good faith, misunderstanding the duration of his suspension. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Mathew P. Wattoff, State Bar #158442, Hyde Park, NY (November 28, 2011). Wattoff, 52, was disbarred for misappropriating funds and engaging in acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

Around 2006 and 2007 Wattoff provided tax-consulting services in Colorado through a consulting company he formed in July 2004. Wattoff was not licensed to practice law in Colorado, and the company was not a law firm. In 2006 a client retained Wattoff for legal advice and representation concerning federal tax matters. The client’s company was later incorporated pursuant to Wattoff’s advice. In 2007 the new company sold its assets to a buyer, who delivered funds to Wattoff for deposit into an escrow account. Instead, Wattoff deposited the funds into a bank account he maintained in the name of his consulting firm. Wattoff misappropriated $108,120.

In aggravation, the misconduct significantly harmed a client. In mitigation, Wattoff had no record of prior discipline since he was admitted to the bar in 1992. Also, he cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 28, 2011

SUSPENSION

George B. Altenberg, Jr., State Bar #117984, Santa Rosa (November 17, 2011). Altenberg, 58, was suspended for one year and placed on three years of probation for failing to maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating funds, commingling, failing to promptly disburse settlement funds, and engaging in acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, the misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing involving the client trust fund that demonstrated a pattern of misconduct. In mitigation, Altenberg had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1988. He cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation, and he reimbursed his clients prior to contact from the State Bar. The order took effect December 17, 2011

Michael J. Barsi, State Bar #159970, San Juan Bautista (November 9, 2011). Barsi, 47, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for committing assault and battery.

In March 2010 Barsi became intoxicated at a bar and was involved in an altercation with a patron. He was arrested for battery and public intoxication. In May 2010 he was charged with violating Criminal Code § 242, assault and battery, and § 647(f), public intoxication, both misdemeanors. He pleaded no contest to the assault charge and was convicted in 2011.

In aggravation, Barsi had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, Barsi cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation, and he exhibited remorse. At the time of his misconduct he experienced personal problems. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Paul R. Bartleson, State Bar #119273, Sacramento (November 9, 2011). Bartleson, 53, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for violating a court order and paying himself fees in a bankruptcy matter without court approval.

In 2009 Bartleson was retained by husband-and-wife clients to represent them in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The clients paid Bartleson $20,000 in fees. Bartleson thereafter filed a petition in the district court. The court issued an order authorizing his employment and stating that he could not use any of the advance fees held in trust, except pursuant to a court order. Afterward, Bartleson withdrew approximately $13,000 without court authorization.

In August 2009 Bartleson filed a motion to withdraw from the bankruptcy case as counsel. The following month the clients retained new counsel. Between September 2009 and February 2010 the clients attempted to contact Bartleson for an accounting, but he did not provide one. The clients and their new counsel filed a complaint against Bartleson for release of the bankruptcy estate’s property.

In June 2010 Bartleson admitted in a deposition that he had made withdrawals of approximately $9,000 without court authorization. The court issued an order stating that Bartleson could keep $6,069 as reasonable attorney fees. Thereafter, Bartleson disgorged the difference, refunding $13,000 to the clients.

In aggravation, Bartleson’s misconduct significantly harmed his clients. In mitigation, Bartleson cooperated with the State Bar investigation. He exhibited remorse for his misconduct and made full restitution pursuant to the court’s orders. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Robin S. Bentler, State Bar #153834, Irvine (November 17, 2011). Bentler, 49, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to file a federal income tax return.

In May 1998 Bentler formed a Nevada corporation. He failed to file tax returns for the corporation for the years 2003, 2004, and 2005. After being notified that he was under investigation by federal law enforcement, he filed tax returns and paid the taxes due.

In June 2010 Bentler pleaded guilty to three counts of violating 26 U.S.C. § 7203, willful failure to file an income tax return. He was sentenced to one year of probation and 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay a fine of $5,000.

In mitigation, Bentler had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1991. He cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation, and he demonstrated remorse for his wrongdoing. The order took effect December 17, 2011

James T. Bentson, State Bar #140800, San Diego (November 23, 2011). Bentson, 54, was suspended for 60 days and placed on one year of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to keep his clients reasonably informed of significant developments in their cases, failing to promptly respond to clients’ status inquiries, failing to promptly release a client’s file after termination of employment, engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, charging an illegal fee, and maintaining an action that was not supported by evidence.

In aggravation, the misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing in four client matters, and it significantly harmed one client. In mitigation, Bentson had no record of prior discipline since being admitted in June 1989. At the time of the misconduct he experienced personal problems. The order took effect November 24, 2011

Joseph A. Bernal, State Bar #119448, Pasadena (October 25, 2011). Bernal, 55, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for failing to promptly pay funds to a client, failing to maintain client funds in trust, and engaging in an act of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, Bernal had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect November 24, 2011

Mark S. Brown, State Bar #225511, Los Alamitos (November 28, 2011). Brown, 47, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to respond to a client’s reasonable status inquiries, failing to provide an accounting, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, and failing to return a client’s files.

In aggravation, the misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing that significantly harmed clients. Brown demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. In mitigation, Brown had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 2003, and he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect December 28, 2011

Brian Yun Kong Ching, State Bar #79456, Oakland (October 25, 2011). Ching, 62, was suspended for one year and placed on five years of probation for failing to promptly pay out funds, failing to respond to a client’s reasonable status inquiries, failing to follow a court order, failing to competently perform legal services, failing to keep his client informed, and engaging in acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption.

In aggravation, Ching harmed his client by misappropriating funds. In mitigation, Ching cooperated with the State Bar by reaching a stipulation. During the period of misconduct he experienced personal and financial problems. The order took effect November 24, 2011

Charles C. Cossio, State Bar #167901, Alpine (October 28, 2011). Cossio, 45, was suspended for 60 days and placed on three years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In February 2010 Cossio was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation. Conditions to the discipline required him to submit quarterly reports, attend State Bar ethics school, and take and pass at least four hours of MCLE-approved courses. Cossio failed to comply with the conditions.

In aggravation, Cossio had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, Cossio cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation by way of stipulation. The order took effect November 27, 2011

Cynthia L. Cox, State Bar #168112, Oakland (November 28, 2011). Cox, 50, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation for failing to file a court-ordered declaration of compliance and for practicing bankruptcy law in violation of the regulations in that jurisdiction.

In aggravation, Cox had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, her misconduct did not harm her clients. Further, Cox cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 28, 2011

Robert A. Degrell, State Bar #151498, Redondo Beach (October 19, 2011). Degrell, 48, was suspended for 30 months and placed on five years of probation for failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to pay out funds on behalf of a client, failing to provide an accounting, misappropriating client funds, improperly soliciting a client, representing more than one client in the same matter where the clients’ interests were in potential conflict, failing to keep a client informed about significant developments in the client’s case, improperly withdrawing from representation, engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline, and engaging in acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption. Degrell was ordered to make restitution of $9,750 to one client. He was given credit toward the suspension for the period of his involuntary inactive enrollment, which began July 1, 2008.

In aggravation, Degrell had a record of prior discipline, and the current misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused harm to clients. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. The order took effect November 18, 2011

J. R. Dorcy, State Bar #170620, Costa Mesa (October 25, 2011). Dorcy, 49, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services and disobeying a court order.

In mitigation, Dorcy cooperated with the State Bar, and he entered into a comprehensive stipulation acknowledging his misconduct. During the period of his misconduct, he experienced family problems. He had no record of discipline since being admitted in 1994. The order took effect November 24, 2011

Earl T. Durham, State Bar #74349, Mazatlan, AK (November 2, 2011). Durham, 75, was suspended for 60 days and until the State Bar grants a motion to terminate his suspension. He was suspended for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, failing to obey court orders, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In June 2008 Durham was suspended for failing to pay State Bar membership fees. While suspended, he filed an opening brief as the attorney of record for a client and he made an appearance at a hearing in an appellate matter.

In aggravation, Durham committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and failed to participate in the State Bar proceedings prior to entry of his default. In mitigation, Durham had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1977. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Robert I. Duskis, State Bar #50438, Garden Grove (November 28, 2011). Duskis, 66, was suspended for 90 days and placed on three years of probation for entering into a business transaction with a client, acquiring a pecuniary interest adverse to a client, accepting representation of a client without providing written disclosure that he had a potential conflict of interest, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, failing to render appropriate accounting, and improperly withdrawing from representation.

In aggravation, Duskis had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, during the time of his misconduct Duskis experienced family and financial problems. The order took effect December 28, 2011

Sydney E. Fairbairn, State Bar #122349, Novato (November 9, 2011). Fairbairn, 49, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to render appropriate accounting, failing to preserve trust fund records, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, Fairbairn’s misconduct involved multiple acts of wrongdoing that involved client trust funds. In mitigation, Fairbairn had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1986. She cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. At the time of the misconduct, Fairbairn suffered from mental health problems. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Stuart I. Folinsky, State Bar #65814, Los Angeles (October 25, 2011). Folinsky, 62, was suspended for one year and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly respond to reasonable client inquiries, failing to keep a client reasonably informed, failing to render appropriate accounts, improperly withdrawing from representation, failing to promptly pay out client funds, and failing to release all client papers and property.

In aggravation, Folinsky had a record of prior discipline. His misconduct caused significant harm to clients, including causing removal orders to be issued by the Immigration Court against them. In mitigation, Folinsky cooperated with the State Bar during the investigation and proceedings. He demonstrated remorse for and recognition of his wrongdoing. The order took effect November 24, 2011

Amy M. Ghosh, State Bar #201701, Los Angeles (November 17, 2011). Ghosh, 45, was suspended for 60 days and placed on one year of probation for failing to deposit client funds in trust, failing to pay settlement proceeds to her client, and failing to maintain the client trust account.

In mitigation, Ghosh cooperated with the State Bar during its investigations. At the time of her misconduct Ghosh suffered from medical problems. The order took effect December 17, 2011

Sean P. Gjerde, State Bar #217467, Wilton (November 16, 2011). Gjerde, 35, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to promptly disburse client funds, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, failing to obey a court order, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, Gjerde committed multiple acts of wrongdoing, and his misconduct caused significant harm to his clients. In mitigation, Gjerde cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect December 16, 2011

Sean C. Hickey, State Bar #159116, Fremont (October 19, 2011). Hickey, 49, was suspended for 60 days and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to return unearned fees, and failing to return a client file upon termination of employment.

In aggravation, Hickey had a record of prior discipline. The current matter involved multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused harm to a client. In mitigation, he cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. The order took effect November 18, 2011

Earl W. Husted, III, State Bar #99019, Valley Center (November 9, 2011). Husted, 58, was suspended for one year and placed on three years of probation for failing to promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries by a client, failing to competently perform legal services, and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

In aggravation, Husted had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Joseph L. Lisoni, State Bar #55051, Solvang (October 25, 2011). Lisoni, 65, was suspended for two years and placed on four years of probation for failing to maintain client funds in trust, misappropriating client funds, unlawfully entering into a business transaction with a client, violating a court order, and engaging in acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption.

In aggravation, Lisoni’s misconduct significantly harmed clients. He engaged in multiple acts of misconduct in three separate matters. In mitigation, Lisoni had no record of prior discipline since he was admitted to the bar in 1973. During the period of his misconduct he was addicted to prescription and illegal drugs and engaged in excessive gambling. He was actively involved in Alcoholics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous programs. In 2008 he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and he is considered disabled by the Social Security Administration. The order took effect November 24, 2011

Rita Mahdessian, State Bar #141901, Glendale (November 2, 2011). Mahdessian, 52, was suspended for five months and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services.

In 2005 a client retained Mahdessian to appeal the denial of her asylum claim to the Board of Immigration Appeals. She paid Mahdessian approximately $2,000 in advance fees. Mahdessian was instructed to file a proof of service for all submissions to the BIA; however, she filed an opening brief without a proof of service, leading the BIA to dismiss her client’s appeal.

In aggravation, Mahdessian had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, she accepted responsibility for her actions early in the State Bar’s proceedings. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Todd E. Marsh, State Bar #176065, Lake Hughes (November 2, 2011). Marsh, 46, was suspended for 18 months and placed on three years probation for failing to maintain client funds in trust, commingling funds, failing to maintain records of his client trust account, failing to promptly respond to clients’ reasonable status inquiries, failing to promptly disburse client funds, failing to competently perform legal services, failing to keep a client reasonably informed of significant developments, failing to promptly release a client’s file upon termination of employment, failing to refund unearned fees, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, Marsh’s misconduct caused significant harm to his clients. In mitigation, Marsh had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1995. He paid restitution without the threat of force or disciplinary action. Also, at the time of the misconduct Marsh experienced family and financial problems. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Catherine M. MCCauley, State Bar #150090, Castleton, VT (October 25, 2011). McCauley, 57, was suspended for 60 days for failing to respond to reasonable client inquiries, failing to competently perform legal services, retaining unearned fees, and failing to promptly return client papers or property. She was to remain suspended until she makes restitution and the State Bar terminates her suspension.

In aggravation, McCauley committed multiple acts of misconduct and failed to participate in the State Bar’s investigation. In mitigation, McCauley had no record of prior discipline since she was admitted to practice in 1990. The order took effect November 24, 2011

Victor D. Mireles, State Bar #249298, San Diego (November 2, 2011). Mireles, 34, was suspended for 15 months and placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to maintain client funds in trust, and failing to refund unearned fees.

In aggravation, the misconduct involved several matters and caused significant harm to clients. In mitigation, Mireles cooperated during the State Bar’s investigation, and he exhibited remorse for his misconduct. Also, at the time of his misconduct Mireles experienced family and medical problems. The order took effect December 2, 2011

John A. Morrison, State Bar #202706, Seal Beach (November 2, 2011). Morrison, 42, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to promptly respond to reasonable client inquiries, failing to competently perform legal services, failing to provide an accounting, and failing to return unearned fees.

In aggravation, Morrison’s misconduct caused significant harm to his client. He failed to cooperate in the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings. In mitigation, Morrison had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1999. At the time of his misconduct he experienced family and medical problems The order took effect December 2, 2011

Thomas C. Nelson, State Bar #82506, San Diego (November 2, 2011). Nelson, 58, was suspended for 18 months and placed on five years of probation for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, Nelson had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, Nelson cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation by entering into a stipulation of facts and conclusions of law. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Kim T. Nguyen, State Bar #162783, Tustin (November 30, 2011). Nguyen, 44, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to promptly respond to a client’s reasonable status inquiries, failing to render appropriate accounts, failing to promptly refund an unearned fee, willfully disobeying an order of the court, and engaging in acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, Nguyen had a record of prior discipline. He committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed clients and showed a pattern of misconduct. In mitigation, Nguyen cooperated with the State Bar by stipulating to facts. The order took effect December 30, 2011

Sung I. Oh, State Bar #201634, West Covina (November 28, 2011). Oh, 47, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to provide written disclosure to a client that he had a potential conflict of interest, and failing to obtain the client’s written consent to represent a party with a potentially opposing interest.

In aggravation, Oh engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, he had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1999. Oh cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and entered into a stipulation. He recognized his wrongdoing and demonstrated remorse. The order took effect December 28, 2011

John J. O’Kane, III, State Bar #97772, Montrose (November 17, 2011). O’Kane, 64, was suspended for 15 months and placed on three years of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In January 2010 O’Kane was suspended for one year and placed on three years of probation. He was required to submit quarterly reports to the State Bar Office of Probation, complete MCLE courses, and attend State Bar ethics school. He failed to comply with the conditions.

In aggravation, O’Kane had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect December 17, 2011. Steven Michael O’Neal, State Bar # 62315, San Diego (November 2). O’Neal, 62, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to properly maintain his client trust account and misappropriating funds.

In mitigation, O’Neal acted in good faith and paid restitution without the threat of force or discipline. He cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings. At the time of his misconduct, O’Neal experienced difficulties in his personal life. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Raymond V. Patton, State Bar #196791, Brentwood (November 30, 2011). Patton, 40, was suspended for one year and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, disobeying an order of the court, failing to maintain respect due to the courts and judicial officers, failing to report judicial sanctions, failing to keep his client informed of significant developments, failing to respond to reasonable status inquiries, improperly withdrawing from representation, failing to promptly release client files upon termination of employment, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, and failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, Patton had a record of prior discipline, and he committed 37 acts of misconduct in six client matters. His misconduct harmed clients, and he had neither refunded unearned fees nor paid court sanctions. Also, he failed to cooperate in the State Bar investigation and only sporadically participated in disciplinary proceedings. The order took effect December 30, 2011

Roy E. Peterson, State Bar #153455, El Monte (November 30, 2011). Peterson, 67, was suspended for one year and placed on five years of probation for failing to timely comply with a court order, improperly withdrawing from representation, and engaging in acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, Peterson had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, Peterson cooperated with the State Bar investigation by stipulating to facts, conclusions of law, and discipline The order took effect December 30, 2011

Alex J. Ranciglio, State Bar #162222, Redlands (November 9, 2011). Ranciglio, 66, 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 June 2006 Ranciglio stipulated that he would comply with conditions to a public reproval. He was required to submit quarterly reports, attend State Bar ethics school, and take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. He failed to comply with the conditions.

In aggravation, Ranciglio had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, at the time of his misconduct Ranciglio experienced medical problems. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Russell R. Ruiz, State Bar #123414, Santa Barbara (November 2, 2011). Ruiz was suspended for one year and placed on three years of probation for eight felony convictions.

In 2004 Ruiz was arrested for making criminal threats to a man alleged to be having an extramarital affair with his wife. Ruiz pleaded no contest to making annoying/obscene telephone calls (Penal Code § 653m, subd. (a)) and was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and five days in county jail.

Later that year Ruiz was pulled over while driving after he failed to make a complete stop at a stop sign. After he failed a field sobriety test, he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. He pleaded guilty and was convicted of violating Vehicle Code § 23152(a). He was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and ten days in county jail.

In 2005 Ruiz was again arrested for driving under the influence following an altercation with his wife. He was placed in police custody and served with a temporary protective order. In 2006 police were called to respond to multiple arguments between the couple, and in March of that year Ruiz was arrested for public intoxication. In June he was cited for driving on a suspended license. In November he pleaded no contest to corporal injury to a spouse (two felony counts), driving under the influence of alcohol, disobeying a domestic relations court order, public intoxication, and driving while suspended for a prior DUI conviction. He was sentenced to three years of probation and 180 days in county jail and ordered to join an 18-month alcohol and drug treatment program, a year-long batterer’s intervention program, and a clean-and-sober program.

In aggravation, Ruiz had a record of prior discipline. He committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and exhibited a pattern of misconduct. In mitigation, Ruiz cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. He successfully completed the Alternative Discipline Program and participated in the Lawyer Assistance Program. The order took effect December 2, 2011

David A. St. John, State Bar #48746, Oxnard (November 9, 2011). St. John, 67, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, willfully disobeying a court order, failing to report sanctions, failing to provide an accounting, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, and failing to promptly release a client’s file upon termination of employment.

In aggravation, St. John committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and demonstrated a pattern of misconduct. In mitigation, he had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1971. He cooperated with the State Bar by reaching a stipulation. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Razi A. Shah, State Bar #181968, Sacramento (November 17, 2011). Shah, 69, was suspended for 30 days and placed on two years of probation for failing to deposit in trust funds received for the benefit of a client.

In mitigation, Shah had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1996. He cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings and displayed remorse for his conduct The order took effect December 17, 2011

Chesterfield A. Spahr, State Bar #190173, San Francisco (November 9, 2011). Spahr, 42, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and failing to timely comply with a state Supreme Court order.

In February 2008 Spahr was involuntarily placed on inactive status as a result of his default in a disciplinary matter. That April he appeared in court and represented a client in a preliminary examination. In a second matter, in September 2008 the Supreme Court ordered Spahr to submit an affidavit of compliance with rule 9.20 of the Rules of Court. Spahr failed to timely comply.

In aggravation, Spahr had a record of prior discipline. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Wayne K. Teebken, State Bar #93013, Laguna Woods (November 17, 2011). Teebken, 68, was suspended for 30 days and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services. Between 2003 and 2005, five separate clients retained Teebken to handle their respective immigration matters. In 2008 Teebken transferred his practice to another attorney but failed to complete the legal work his clients hired him to do. Further, Teebken failed to inform his clients that he would no longer be working on their legal matters. Teebken also failed to ensure that the new attorney assumed responsibility for his clients’ matters.

In aggravation, Teebken had a record of several prior disciplines. In mitigation, Teebken cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation. The order took effect December 17, 2011

Craig R. Triance, State Bar #161079, Covina (November 2, 2011). Triance, 50, was suspended for one year and placed on two years of probation for sharing legal fees with a nonattorney, failing to competently perform legal services, failing to provide an accounting to a client, failing to promptly refund unearned fees, failing to keep a client reasonably informed, and failing to promptly respond to client’s reasonable status inquiries.

In aggravation, Triance committed 19 acts of misconduct in five client matters. His wrongdoing caused significant harm to his clients. In mitigation, Triance cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Larry P. James, State Bar #183769, Sacramento (October 19, 2011). James, 46, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to return unearned fees, failing to keep clients reasonably informed of significant developments in the clients’ case, and engaging in an act of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In aggravation, James had a record of prior discipline. Also, James committed multiple acts of misconduct, and he caused significant harm to his clients. In mitigation, at the time of his misconduct James experienced extreme emotional and financial difficulties.

The order took effect November 18, 2011

PROBATION

Scott C. Burrell, State Bar #167779, Walnut Creek (November 2, 2011). Burrell, 48, was placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to obey a court order, failing to respond to client inquiries, failing to keep clients reasonably informed of significant developments, failing to account for fees received, improperly withdrawing from representation, failing to report sanctions, and failing to return a client’s file.

In aggravation, Burrell committed acts of misconduct in multiple matters that harmed his clients. In mitigation, Burrell had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the bar in 1993. In two matters, Burrell showed remorse by successfully filing motions to set aside the default that had been entered against his clients. The order took effect December 2, 2011

Brian D. Gard, State Bar #118457, San Diego (November 28, 2011). Gard, 59, was placed on one year of probation for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In 2009 Gard was publicly reproved for a period of two years. He was required to take and pass the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination and to attend State Bar ethics school. He failed to timely comply with the requirements.

In aggravation, Gard had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, he cooperated during the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 28, 2011

Marvyn B. Gordon, State Bar #65981, Calabasas (November 17, 2011). Gordon, 67, was placed on probation for one year and until he pays restitution for negligently creating a conflict of interest with a client, and failing to promptly release a client’s file upon request.

In mitigation, Gordon had no record of prior discipline and cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 17, 2011

Mayra I. Laureano, State Bar #194702, Santa Ana (November 9, 2011). Laureano, 46, was placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to return unearned fees, and failing to promptly release client files upon termination of employment.

In March 2009 Laureano was retained by three joint tenants in a loan modification matter. One of the clients also retained Laureano in a breach of contract claim. The clients paid $3,000 in advance fees, but Laureano failed to complete work on either matter. She failed to return client files and did not refund any portion of the advance fees. In aggravation, Laureano’s misconduct caused significant financial harm to clients. In mitigation, at the time of her misconduct Laureano was experiencing medical difficulties. The order took effect December 9, 2011

David S. Silber, State Bar #176377, Nevada City (November 9, 2011). Silber, 53, was placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly respond to a client’s reasonable status inquiries, failing to refund unearned fees, and failing to release a file upon termination of employment.

In mitigation, Silber had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1995. He cooperated with the State Bar’s investigation and agreed to settle the case at an early stage. At the time of his misconduct, he was experiencing family problems. The order took effect December 9, 2011

Curtis A. Westfall, State Bar #128447, Santa Monica (November 2, 2011). Westfall, 51, was placed on two years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to promptly respond to a client’s reasonable status inquiries, failing to promptly release client files, and commingling funds.

In aggravation, Westfall had a record of prior discipline. He engaged in multiple acts of misconduct in two matters, and his conduct significantly harmed one of his clients. Also, he failed to cooperate with the State Bar’s investigation and proceedings. The order took effect December 2, 2011

PUBLIC REPROVAL

Julie L. Plisinski, State Bar #199585, Ladera Ranch (October 27, 2011). Plisinski, 39, received a public reproval for failing to competently perform legal services and failing to return unearned fees.

In mitigation, Plisinski had no record of prior discipline since she was admitted to the bar in 1998. Also, she cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. The order took effect November 17, 2011. The order took effect November 17, 2011

There are no recent disciplinary actions of this type.