MAGAZINE
California Lawyer

SUSPENSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In aggravation, Partipilo engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Partipilo had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1973. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actions From Previous Issues

Oscar A. DeChavez, State Bar #108605, Chula Vista (April 18, 2014). Oscar Arturo Ruiz DECHAVEZ, State Bar # 108605, Chula Vista (April 18). DeChavez, 66, was suspended for one year and had his probation revoked for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline.

In aggravation, DeChavez had a record of prior discipline. In addition, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for his misconduct. The order took effect May 18, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

Gaspar R. Garcia, II, State Bar #215762, Sacramento (April 11, 2014). Garcia, 40, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for repeatedly failing to competently perform legal services, failing to keep a client reasonably informed, and failing to cooperate in a disciplinary investigation.

In June 2009 a client retained Garcia for representation in a lawsuit against her employer, the California Department of General Services (CDGS) and James Martin. Garcia substituted into the case, which was already pending.

In December 2010 Garcia obtained leave from the court to file a Third Amended Complaint (TAC) by a certain deadline. Garcia did so, but the TAC was deficient because it failed to name Martin as a defendant and also failed to comply with filing requirements. As a result, CDGS filed a motion to strike the TAC. Garcia did not file an opposition to the motion to strike. Instead, he sought leave to file a Fourth Amended Complaint, which the court eventually dropped for lack of jurisdiction.

Ultimately, the court granted CDGS’s motion to strike the TAC. CDGS then filed a motion for dismissal, which Garcia did not oppose. The court granted the motion and dismissed CDGS from the case with prejudice.

In May 2011 Martin filed a motion to dismiss himself from the case. Garcia failed to file an opposition, and the following month the court granted Martin’s motion. Consequently, the court entered judgment in favor of CDGS in the underlying lawsuit. Garcia never informed his client that the TAC had been stricken, that the case was dismissed and Martin was dismissed, or that a judgment had been entered against her in the underlying lawsuit. In aggravation, Garcia had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused his client significant harm, and he failed to cooperate with the State Bar’s investigation. In mitigation, Garcia cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

Steve S. Gohari, State Bar #189339, Los Angeles (April 11, 2014). Gohari, 52, was suspended for 30 days and was placed on two years of probation for repeatedly failing to competently perform legal services. In February 2012 a client met with nonattorney Edison Castro about filing a civil complaint against his mortgage lender. Castro was the owner of a company called BKLAW4U, which provided paralegal services to Gohari on a regular basis. The client paid Castro $4,000 in advance fees.

In March 2012 Gohari filed a complaint on behalf of the client, and later that month Castro sent the client a fee agreement with Gohari’s law firm. The client signed the agreement. Later, Gohari filed an ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order on behalf of the client, which was denied. Eventually Gohari also filed a request to dismiss the underlying lawsuit, which was granted.

At all relevant times during his representation of BKLAW4U client, Gohari employed Castro for paralegal services. But Gohari failed to properly supervise Castro, who exceeded his client-intake duties by accepting the client for representation, assessing the case, collecting legal fees, and providing the client legal advice. Gohari severed all ties with Castro in August 2013.

In mitigation, Gohari had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1997. Also, he agreed to enter into a stipulation and presented evidence of good moral character. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

Lyndsey M. Heller, State Bar #188234, Encinitas (April 11, 2014). Heller, 50, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for committing seven acts of professional misconduct in four client matters in California and one in New York.

Between May 2010 and December 2011 Heller was paid advance attorneys fees in the California matters to perform residential loan modification services in violation of Civil Code § 2944(a)(1). Heller failed to obtain a loan modification that was acceptable to her clients. Furthermore, in two of these matters Heller was hired to file lawsuits against the clients’ lenders. In one of these, Heller failed to file an opposition to a demurrer and filed a substitution of attorney, substituting in the client to represent herself ten days prior to the hearing on the demurrer. The court then sustained the demurrer. In the other, Heller also failed to file an opposition to a demurrer and failed to appear at a hearing on the demurrer, resulting in the court sustaining the demurrer without leave to amend.

In a fifth client matter, Heller was hired by a resident of New York to perform loan modification services relating to a home in that state. However, Heller was not admitted to practice law in New York.

Heller failed to refund any of the legal fees paid to her in the five client matters.

In aggravation, Heller engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Heller had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1997. In addition, during the period of misconduct, Heller suffered extreme physical and emotional difficulties. Also, she cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

Dawn M. Hunter, State Bar #177153, Newell, IA (April 11, 2014). Hunter, 51, was suspended for 90 days and placed on two years of probation for holding herself out as entitled to practice law while suspended, collecting an illegal fee, failing to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation, and committing acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In May 2011 a client hired Hunter, paying her $1,000 in advance fees for a lawsuit pending in the superior court. Two days later Hunter was served a California Supreme Court order, effective July 2011, suspending her from practice for failure to pay State Bar membership fees. Hunter did not inform her client about the suspension and accepted $4,146 in legal fees from him while she was suspended. Also, Hunter sent her client several emails regarding issues connected with the lawsuit. When the client discovered her status, he filed a complaint with the State Bar. Hunter did not respond to letters sent by a State Bar investigator.

In aggravation, Hunter engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed her client. Also, she failed to show any remorse for her misconduct. In mitigation, Hunter had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1995. Also, she cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

Nathan N. Jardine, State Bar #158502, Farmington, UT (April 23, 2014). Jardine, 53, was suspended for 18 months and placed on two years of probation following disciplinary action in Utah for failing to competently perform legal services, failing to adequately communicate with a client, failing to refund unearned fees, and failing to promptly return a client file.

In August 2000 Jardine, who is admitted to practice in the State of Utah, was hired by a client to represent him in a civil rights action against the Utah Highway Patrol. In May 2002 Jardine filed a complaint, but he failed to serve it within the allotted time frame.

In April 2004 he had the original complaint dismissed and filed a second complaint. However, he failed to serve the correct Utah Highway Patrol officer. After neither party appeared at a hearing on an order to show cause, the complaint was dismissed again in June 2006.

Although Jardine refiled the complaint, the client complained to the Utah State Bar and discharged him. Throughout his six years of representing the client, Jardine had seldom communicated with the client.

There were also two other matters warranting discipline in Utah. In aggravation, Jardine had a record of prior discipline in Utah that he failed to report to the State Bar of California. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that harmed his clients. In mitigation, Jardine cooperated by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 23, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

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

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

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

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

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

This action originally appeared in our October 2014 issue.

Rene C. Nunez, State Bar #226171, San Gabriel (April 18, 2014). Nunez, 42, had his probation revoked and was suspended for one year for failing to comply with conditions to a previous order of discipline. He was charged with failing to provide the Office of Probation with proof that he attended and passed the State Bar’s Ethics School, as well as failing to provide satisfactory proof of full payment of restitution. In aggravation, Nunez had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. The order took effect May 18, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.
Michael A. Rivera, State Bar #136931, Downey (April 11, 2014). Rivera, 49, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for filing an unjust legal action, failing to obey a court order, and failing to report judicial sanctions against him to the State Bar within 30 days.

In aggravation, Rivera had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing in a single client matter. In mitigation, Rivera provided six letters from people attesting to his good character, and he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

John S. Sargetis, State Bar #80630, Roseville (April 11, 2014). Sargetis, 63, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in another jurisdiction, collecting an illegal fee for loan modification services in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a)(1), failing to disclose to an out-of-state client that he was only licensed to practice law in California, improperly limiting his liability to a client in a fee agreement, failing to avoid representation of an adverse interest by obtaining the client’s informed written consent, and committing acts involving moral turpitude.

In aggravation, Sargetis had a record of prior discipline. The misconduct occurred just months after Sargetis had entered an Agreement in Lieu of Discipline, and while he was under State Bar supervision. Also, Sargetis committed multiple acts of wrongdoing that caused harm to a client and to the administration of justice. In mitigation, Sargetis cooperated with the State Bar during its investigation and proceedings. In addition, Sargetis displayed remorse for his conduct and made changes to his practice to avoid further misconduct. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

Alan M. Schnitzer, State Bar #129024, Los Alamitos (April 11, 2014). Schnitzer, 54, was suspended for eight months and placed on three years of probation for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law while he was involuntarily enrolled as an inactive member of the State Bar.

In aggravation, Schnitzer had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, during the time of his misconduct Schnitzer was suffering from a serious illness, as well as associated extreme physical and emotional difficulties. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

David R. Schwarcz, State Bar #152896, Los Angeles (April 11, 2014). Schwarcz, 50, was suspended for 60 days and placed on two years of probation for knowingly entering into a business transaction with clients without fully disclosing potential conflicts of interest in writing in a manner the clients could reasonably understand, as well as failing to advise clients in writing that they may seek the advice of an independent lawyer.

In aggravation, Schwarcz engaged in a pattern of misconduct that harmed his clients, and he failed to pay $65,000 due them as part of one transaction. In mitigation, Schwarcz had no record of prior discipline since being admitted to the State Bar in 1991. Also, he cooperated by entering into a stipulation and presented evidence of his good character. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

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

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

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

This action originally appeared in our October 2014 issue.

Aalok Sikand, State Bar #248165, Oxnard (April 11, 2014). Sikand, 33, was suspended for six months and placed on two years of probation for practicing law in Virginia and New York when he was not licensed to practice in those states, collecting an advance fee for loan modification services in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a)(1), aiding and abetting in the unauthorized practice of law, and sharing legal fees with nonattorneys.

From June 2012 through October 2012 Sikand aided nonattorneys operating under the name Financial Research Group (FRG) in signing up loan modification clients for his law firm, Silver Law Center. In May 2012 a client received FRG’s mailer offering legal services related to mortgage loan modifications at her home in Virginia. She contacted FRG, which informed her that Sikand’s law firm could represent and assist her in the matter. The client paid the $2,995 retainer fee, and Sikand thereafter submitted a loan modification request on her behalf. The same scenario unfolded in New York, where a client paid Sikand $3,995 in fees related to loan modification services. However, Sikand was not licensed to practice law in either Virginia or New York. From June 2012 through October 2012 Sikand allowed FRG’s nonattorney employees to provide legal advice and to prepare loan modification requests without supervision. He also shared the fees he received with FRG’s nonattorney principals.

In aggravation, Sikand’s misconduct financially harmed his clients. Also, he engaged in a pattern of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Sikand cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

Jason A. Smith, State Bar #237584, Mission Viejo (April 11, 2014). Smith, 40, was suspended for two years and placed on three years of probation for failing to competently perform legal services in eleven client matters, failing to promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries in ten client matters, collecting advance fees for loan modification services in violation of Civil Code § 2944.7(a)(1) in six client matters, failing to refund unearned fees in six client matters, and failing to return a client file.

Between March 2010 and the first half of 2013, Smith committed misconduct in 17 client matters.

In aggravation, Smith had a record of prior discipline. Also, he committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, during the period of his misconduct Smith suffered extreme emotional difficulties and family problems. Also, he cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

Cynthia L. Spalding, State Bar #170899, Rancho Cucamonga (April 11, 2014). Spalding, 60, was suspended for 90 days and placed on three years of probation for failing to respond to multiple status inquiries, practicing law while under suspension, and failing to cooperate with a State Bar investigation.

In March 2010 a husband and wife hired Spalding to provide legal services in a bankruptcy matter. Between September 2010 and September 2012 the clients called Spalding approximately 20 times requesting status updates, but she failed to respond. After the clients complained to the State Bar, Spalding failed to serve a written response to two letters from the State Bar investigator concerning the matter.

In a second matter, just two days after she was suspended from practice in September 2012 Spalding substituted in as the attorney of record for an applicant in a Workers Compensation Appeals Board case. In the following month she appeared in court for a defendant in a civil matter, and she permitted her law firm website to continue advertising her availability to practice as an attorney.

In aggravation, Spalding had a record of prior discipline. Also, she committed multiple acts of wrongdoing. In mitigation, Spalding cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 11, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

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

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

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

This action originally appeared in our October 2014 issue.

Adrian H. Triminio, State Bar #192894, Fair Oaks (April 11, 2014). Triminio, 46, was suspended for six months and placed on three years of probation for practicing law while suspended, failing to competently perform legal services, failing to respond to reasonable status inquiries, and committing an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.

In June 2009 a client hired Triminio to amend her certification of naturalization. Triminio filed a petition to do so in district court the following November. From August 2010 to October 2010 the client called and emailed Triminio several times, seeking a status update. Triminio did not return any of her calls or emails. In September 2010 the district court had ordered Triminio to show cause as to why the court should not dismiss the case due to failure to prosecute, but Triminio failed to file a response. In November 2010 the client’s petition was dismissed due to lack of prosecution.

In a second matter, between May 2012 and May 2013, Triminio was suspended from the practice of law for failing to pay child support. His suspension continued after July 2013 for failure to pay State Bar membership fees. However, in August 2012 and in January 2013 Triminio filed motions on behalf of a friend in superior court and argued the motions orally in January 2013. He failed to inform the court or his friend that he was suspended from practice. The following month the court vacated the motions and continued the matter, causing a three-month delay in the case.

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

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This action originally appeared in our October 2014 issue.

Tanya C. Zerounian, State Bar #235207, Simi Valley (April 23, 2014). Zerounian, 37, 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 March 2013 the California Supreme Court filed an order requiring that Zerounian timely comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. She filed her declaration of compliance 39 days late, in June 2013.

In aggravation, Zerounian had a record of prior discipline. In mitigation, she admitted wrongdoing and fully resolved the matter by entering into a stipulation. The order took effect May 23, 2014

This action originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.