This is the property of the Daily Journal Corporation and fully protected by copyright. It is made available only to Daily Journal subscribers for personal or collaborative purposes and may not be distributed, reproduced, modified, stored or transferred without written permission. Please click "Reprint" to order presentation-ready copies to distribute to clients or use in commercial marketing materials or for permission to post on a website. and copyright (showing year of publication) at the bottom.


Discipline Report

Apr. 2, 2018

Discipline Report - April 2018

Recent attorney disbarments, suspensions, probations, and public reprovals in California.

DISBARMENT
Michael Christopher Bennett, Roseville
Brendt Curtis Butler, Los Angeles
Robert Glenn Campbell, Stockton
Drew Allan Cicconi, Topanga
Robert Arthur Degrell, Naperville
Reginald Arthur Dunn, Dorado Hills
John Thomas Dzialo, Santa Ana
Robert Lindsay Earle, Jr., Sedona, Arizona
Ronald Edward Faulk, Glendale
Christopher James O'Keefe, San Diego
Jamie Edwards Quadra, Auburn
Steven Christopher Rivas, Hanford
Andrew Yoshiteru Schroeder, Los Angeles
Andrew James Stern, Los Angeles
Steven C. Wilheim, Tarzana

SUSPENSION
Joseph Malte Bickley, Tucson, Arizona
Victoria Chan, San Gabriel
Tara Jean Collins, Beaumont
Justin Drayton Graham, Los Angeles
Chaka H. Grossman, Beverly Hills
Gary Lee Hicks, East Lansing, Michigan
Lynn Hubbard, III, Chico
Alan Vance McAllister, San Jose
Gregory Lee Parkin, Fullerton
Dean Edward Smart, Mission Viejo
Roger Ira Stein, Ridgecrest
Mario Gilberto Valencia, Valencia
Amy Lillian Vichinsky, Corning, New York
Dolores Victor, Fairfield
Phuong Dave Vo, Westminster

PROBATION
John Eom, Los Angeles

PUBLIC REPROVAL
Daniela Natasha Lopez-Garcia, Sacramento
Vyacheslav Kuznyetsov, Van Nuys

DISBARMENT
Michael Christopher Bennett
State Bar #240565, Roseville (February 16, 2018)
Bennett was disbarred from practicing law after an appeal of the hearing judge's decision recommending that discipline. The State Bar Court panel affirmed findings of culpability on 13 counts of professional misconduct and reinstated five more counts that had been dismissed by the hearing judge below. All counts stemmed from a scheme in which Bennett defrauded and misappropriated nearly $14,000 from his employer, involving numerous acts of moral turpitude and dishonesty.
On appeal, Bennett did not contest culpability, but requested discipline less than disbarment, arguing he did not intend to cause harm and has otherwise been rehabilitated.
Bennett, who was employed as an associate attorney in an estate and trust firm, informed the firm owners he was leaving for another job. In a subsequent search of the computer Bennett had used while employed there, they found evidence he had taken fees in 18 matters, performing the off-book work without their knowledge or authorization and using the firm resources while being paid to work there full-time. While employed at the firm, he also forged the signatures of several individuals, misused the seals of two notaries public, and admitted to making other misrepresentations.
In aggravation, Bennett committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and was culpable of additional uncharged misconduct, including forgery and dishonesty, uncovered at trial. In addition, the hearing judge and panel found the misconduct significantly harmed clients, the public, and the administration of justice. They rejected Bennett's arguments he did not intend to harm anyone and "committed forgeries for expediency and client convenience."
In mitigation, he was allotted minimal weight for emotional difficulties he claimed emanated from the post-partum depression his wife suffered after the births of their two children. The panel agreed with the hearing judge that only minimal weight was proper because: Bennett had only recently started individual therapy, and there was no strong evidence he also suffered from post-partum depression or that his emotional difficulties would not pose a risk of future misconduct.
The panel also allotted minimal mitigation weight for stipulating to some facts that proved his culpability, moderate weight for making restitution to the firm after being confronted with the misappropriation and for community service work, and significant weight for the 16 witnesses who attested to his good character through testimony and declarations.
In recommending disbarment, however, the panel underscored that Bennett's "overall conduct is rife with dishonesty" and noted: "This dishonesty goes directly to his fitness to practice, and honesty is absolutely fundamental in the practice of law; without it, 'the profession is worse than valueless in the place it holds in the administration of justice.' "

Brendt Curtis Butler
State Bar #211273, Los Angeles (February16, 2018)
Butler was disbarred by default. He failed to participate in his disciplinary hearing, either in person or through counsel, and did not move to have the default order entered in the case set aside or vacated.
He was found culpable of nine counts of professional misconduct stemming from two correlated matters. His wrongdoing included: failing to obey a court order to file a response to an order to show cause and pay sanctions, failing to report the sanctions imposed to the State Bar, failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to refund unearned advanced fees, failing to promptly release a client's papers and property upon terminating employment, and failing to provide his client with an accounting. He was also found culpable of failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged and to update his membership records within 30 days after he was evicted from his residence.

Robert Glenn Campbell
State Bar #212149, Stockton (February 7, 2018)
Campbell was disbarred by default after he failed to appear at the trial of the disciplinary charges against him, despite receiving adequate notice and opportunity to do so.
He was found culpable of five counts of professional misconduct in a single client matter: failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to inform a client of a settlement offer--a significant case development, seeking to mislead a judge, making false statements in court and filing a false notice of settlement--wrongdoing involving moral turpitude, and improperly withdrawing from employment.
Campbell had a prior record of discipline and two State Bar investigations were pending against him when he was disbarred.

Drew Allan Cicconi
State Bar #83202, Topanga (February 7, 2018)
Cicconi was disbarred by default after he failed to appear, either in person or through counsel, at his disciplinary proceeding. The State Bar Court judge determined he had received adequate legal notice, and that he did not move to have the default judgment entered against him set aside or vacated.
He was found culpable of failing to comply with probation conditions attached to a disciplinary probation order imposed earlier. Specifically, he failed to timely file three written quarterly reports and then completely failed to file five reports with the Office of Probation.
Cicconi had been disciplined by the State Bar for professional misconduct twice before.

Robert Arthur Degrell
State Bar #151498, Naperville (February 28, 2018)
Degrell was disbarred after a contested disciplinary proceeding in which the parties stipulated and found he had failed to comply with several conditions attached to a disciplinary probation order imposed earlier--including failing to timely submit a quarterly Lawyer Assistance Program report, failing to timely submit 11 written quarterly reports and a final report, failing to submit timely proof of completing Ethics and Client Trust Accounting Schools, and failing to pay full restitution when due.
In aggravation, Degrell had four prior records of discipline--two involving failing to comply with probation conditions, demonstrated indifference toward rectifying his misconduct despite repeated notices of the consequences from the State Bar, and showed a lack of insight that timeliness is a core component of compliance with probation conditions. In addition, he was assigned modest aggravating weight for committing multiple acts of misconduct, since all the violation arose from failing to comply with a single Supreme Court order.
In mitigation, he was allotted limited weight for cooperating with the State Bar by entering into partial stipulations just before trial and after the case was called. The panel rejected numerous other grounds for mitigation that Degrell urged.
In recommending disbarment, the panel underscored that he had "either been committing misconduct or subject to disciplinary conditions . . . close to two-thirds of his time as a practicing attorney."

Reginald Arthur Dunn
State Bar #192632, Dorado Hills (February 7, 2018)
Dunn was disbarred by default after he failed to participate in the proceeding on his disciplinary charges despite having adequate notice and opportunity to do so.
He was found culpable of 10 counts of professional misconduct in two client matters. His wrongdoing included: improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to respond to multiple client inquiries about the status of the case, failing to return unearned fees, failing to comply with multiple court orders, and failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the allegations against him, and two counts each of failing to perform legal services with competence and failing to promptly release the clients' papers and property after being requested to do so. In addition, he was culpable of failing to notify the State Bar of a change of address within 30 days of moving.
One State Bar investigation was pending against Dunn when he was disbarred.

John Thomas Dzialo
State Bar #159996, Santa Ana (February 16, 2018)
Dzialo was disbarred by default. After receiving the notice of disciplinary charges pending against him, he sent a message to State Bar counsel affirming: "I will not contest your charges, and I will not participate, in any fashion, in the process."
The factual allegations in the notice were admitted and deemed true. Dzialo was found culpable of three of four counts of professional misconduct with which he was charged in a single client matter: failing to return his client's papers and property after numerous requests to do so, failing to maintain client funds in a trust account, and then misappropriating nearly $7,500 of those funds.

Robert Lindsay Earle, Jr.
State Bar #64048, Sedona, Arizona (February 28, 2018)
Earle was disbarred from practicing law in California by default after he failed to appear at the proceeding to determine whether a finding of culpability in another jurisdiction also warranted professional discipline in California.
In the underlying matter, Earle had been disciplined by the State Bar of Arizona after he stipulated to failing to promptly return advanced fees collected for unauthorized legal services.
The State Bar Court judge in the instant proceeding found that misconduct also violated state Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 3-700(D)(2)) and warranted discipline in California. Since Earle did not participate in the determining proceeding, the judge recommended disbarment by default.

Ronald Edward Faulk
State Bar #68325, Glendale (February 16, 2018)
Faulk was disbarred after a the State Bar Court panel on appeal affirmed he had violated probation conditions by repeatedly failing to file numerous quarterly written reports and client funds certificates. On appeal he conceded culpability, but requested 60 days of actual suspension, arguing he had made good faith efforts to comply with the reporting requirements in a timely way and that any failure to do so were due to the negligence or incompetence of others--including his office assistant, an accountant, and the bank.
The precise number of the quarterly reports and client funds certificates at issue differed in the notice of disciplinary charges originally filed, Faulk's answer, a joint stipulation, and the hearing judge's findings. The panel, in an independent review of the record, found one late-filed quarterly report and 17 client funds certificates.
In aggravation, Faulk had two prior records of discipline, committed multiple acts of wrongdoing and demonstrated indifference toward rectification by blaming others for his failure to comply with the disciplinary condition imposed on him.
In mitigation, he was allotted limited weight for declarations and testimony about his good character offered by five individuals--none from the legal community, moderate weight for cooperating with the State Bar by stipulating to some facts and culpability but then contesting them at trial, and considerable weight for engaging in pro bono activities.

Christopher James O'Keefe
State Bar #165197, San Diego (February 28, 2018)
O'Keefe was disbarred after he was found culpable of reporting to the State Bar he had completed the requisite 25 hours of Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), but did not produce the required and requested documentation for any courses during the compliance period at issue--misconduct involving moral turpitude.
O'Keefe later asserted he had a good faith belief he was not required to complete his MCLE obligations during the period because he was suspended from practicing law at the time. The State Bar Court judge noted, however, that he had not been candid, as he had "unequivocally stated that he had completed the required MCLE courses during the compliance period" in his online State Bar profile.
In aggravation, O'Keefe had five prior records of discipline and demonstrated a continuing lack of insight into his misconduct.
In mitigation, he was allotted minimal credit for entering into a stipulation of facts in the case.

Jamie Edwards Quadra
State Bar #228956, Auburn (February 7, 2018)
Quadra was disbarred by default after she failed to participate, either in person or through counsel, at her disciplinary proceeding and did not move to have the default entered against her set aside or vacated.
She had been charged with 17 counts of professional misconduct related to three client matters and was found culpable on all counts. Her wrongdoing included: collecting advanced fees prior to completing all loan modification services, appearing on a client's behalf without authority, failing to deposit client funds in trust, failing to provide an accounting of client funds, and misappropriating about $2,000 in client funds--an act involving moral turpitude.
Quadra was also culpable of two counts each of failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to promptly release her clients' papers, and failing to return unearned advanced fees; and three counts each of failing to communicate significant legal developments and failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged.

Steven Christopher Rivas
State Bar #213649, Hanford (February 7, 2018)
Rivas was disbarred after being found culpable of several counts of professional misconduct related to four client matters. While he was originally charged with 14 counts of professional wrongdoing, many were subsumed when the State Bar Court judge found him culpable of repeated and intentional acts of moral turpitude in his misrepresentations and in mishandling and misappropriation of funds owed his clients and their lienholders. He was also deemed culpable of failing to render accounts of those funds, failing to perform legal services with competence, and failing to return unearned advanced fees.
In the case the judge highlighted, Rivas agreed to represent his cousin, his cousin's wife, and their minor child--all of whom had been injured in a car accident with an insured driver. There was no fee agreement; Rivas agreed to represent them free. The parties' claims were settled in mediation for $65,000--and shortly thereafter, Rivas was informed of medical liens against the settlement proceeds totaling $36,560. He subsequently received settlement checks for the adult clients, depositing them in his client trust account, but without the clients' knowledge or consent, transferred and withdrew amounts causing the balance to fall below the permissible amount.
Underlying that, Rivas had engaged in a scheme to settle the liens for a fraction of their amounts, again without consulting the clients. He then tendered a "breakdown" of the settlement proceeds detailing payments to the three clients, and providing that the remaining balance would "cover all medical liens totaling over $50,000 and attorneys' fees." The clients understood they were entitled to any surplus funds; Rivas claimed it entitled him to any surplus over the lien amounts. Rivas did not provide accountings as the clients requested. In addition, he failed to diligently seek the required court approval for the minor client's compromise--delegating that responsibility to paralegals whose paperwork was repeatedly rejected--resulting in a delay of two years.
In aggravation, Rivas committed multiple acts of misconduct and significantly harmed his clients by denying them funds due and failing to make restitution to them. The State Bar Court judge also emphasized that the misconduct was "accompanied by numerous acts of dishonesty and active concealment" and that Rivas "remains defiant and has no insight regarding his unethical behavior."
In mitigation, he received credit for having practiced law discipline-free for 12 years, though that was reduced because the misconduct "was serious and continued for a lengthy period of time." He also received limited mitigation credit for stipulating in three of the four cases at issue and for good character testimony presented by three individuals, two of whom were attorneys.

Andrew Yoshiteru Schroeder
State Bar #231087, Los Angeles (February 28, 2018)
Shroeder was disbarred by default after he failed to appear at his disciplinary proceeding, either in person or through counsel, and did not move to have the default order entered against him set aside or vacated.
He was found culpable of five acts of professional misconduct related to a single client matter. The wrongdoing included: improperly withdrawing from employment, failing to render an accounting of client funds, failing to release the client's papers and property upon request, failing to cooperate in the State Bar investigation of the misconduct alleged, and misrepresenting to his client that a legal filing had been completed when it had not--misconduct involving moral turpitude.

Andrew James Stern
State Bar #51648, Los Angeles (February 7, 2018)
Stern was disbarred after he admitted culpability on several counts of professional misconduct related to mishandling his client trust account and to two separate client matters. Though the parties did not seek the required court approval of the stipulation, it was clear at trial that the stipulation was approved by the State Bar Court judge, who also accepted the conclusion of culpability.
Stern's wrongdoing included: commingling personal client funds in his trust account, failing to provide proper accountings of client funds, improperly representing multiple clients with potentially conflicting interests, committing fraud against a client--an act involving moral turpitude, failing to notify the State Bar of the civil fraud judgment and sanctions order against him, and failing to pay the court-imposed sanctions order.
In the underlying client trust matter, Stern deposited personal funds totaling $606,800 into his client trust during a four-year period: 72 such deposits. During that period, he also deposited and dispersed client funds in and out of the account, maintaining none of the requisite accounting records.
In the most serious client matter, Stern agreed to represent two clients--one a dependent adult who was the beneficiary of a special needs trust, the other the owner of a construction company hired to repair the trust's primary asset: a family home. Though Stern undertook the joint representation and agreed to act as a fiduciary for loan proceeds involved in the transaction, he did not obtain the requisite informed written consent in advance.
During his representation, Stern repeatedly breached his fiduciary duty by obtaining the trust beneficiary's uninformed consent to disburse $270,000 to the construction owner, knowing that the value of the work performed was less; one expert valued its worth at about $109,000. In additional breaches, Stern prepared and finalized several documents for the dependent adult to sign he could not reasonably have understood--all in furtherance of a scheme to quitclaim the property from the trust to the construction owner.
After the trust beneficiary, who had suffered from bipolar disorder and had recurrent suicidal ideations, died of natural causes, the attorney who had prepared the original family trust sought rescission. Stern, the construction company, and its owner were all ultimately found guilty of fraud and financial abuse of a dependent adult in a jury trial; Stern was also found guilty of professional negligence.
In the other client case, Stern was sanctioned $7,500. He neither paid the amount nor reported the sanctions order to the State Bar.
In aggravation, Stern had a prior record of discipline, committed multiple acts of misconduct that demonstrated a pattern, and significantly harmed his highly vulnerable client and others. The State Bar Court judge found he also demonstrated indifference and lacked insight and remorse related to his misconduct.
In mitigation, he stipulated on both facts and culpability and was allotted minimal weight for four character letters submitted, which were not elicited from a wide range of references.

Steven C. Wilheim
State Bar #185884, Tarzana (February 7, 2018)
Wilheim was disbarred from the practice of law. Although he attended the initial status conference in the case charging him with five counts of professional misconduct in a single client matter, he subsequently failed to participate in the proceedings, either in person or through counsel--or to move to have the resulting default judgment set aside or vacated.
He was found culpable of failing to perform legal services with competence, failing to respond to numerous reasonable client inquiries, improperly withdrawing from representation, and failing to cooperate in the State Bar's disciplinary investigation of the wrongdoing alleged. In addition, he was culpable of an act of moral turpitude: misrepresenting to his client he had sued on her behalf when he knew or was grossly negligent in not knowing that was false.

SUSPENSION
Joseph Malte Bickley
State Bar #171766, Tucson, Arizona (February 16, 2018)
Bickley was suspended from practicing law in California for 60 days and placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to failing to comply with several conditions imposed in an earlier disciplinary suspension order.
Specifically, he failed to timely submit three quarterly written reports and failed to provide the Office of Probation with proof of attending Ethics School and passing its final test.
In aggravation, Bickley committed multiple acts of misconduct had a prior record of discipline and showed indifference toward rectifying his misconduct by failing to comply with disciplinary conditions for more than a year after they were due to be completed.
In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation and experienced physical and emotional difficulties that made it difficult for him to comply with the conditions connected to his suspension order.

Victoria Chan
State Bar #255765, San Gabriel (February 5, 2018)
Chan was suspended in the interim pending final dispositions of her convictions of several felonies involving moral turpitude. They included: conspiring to commit visa fraud (18 U.S.C. 371), conspiring to commit wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1546(a)), international money laundering intending to promote unlawful activity (18 U.S.C. 1349), and aiding and abetting visa fraud (18 U.S.C. 1546(a)).

Tara Jean Collins
State Bar #232561, Beaumont (February 12, 2018)
Collins was suspended from practicing law pending proof of passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination as required in a previous disciplinary order.

Justin Drayton Graham
State Bar #219791, Los Angeles (February 7, 2018)
Graham was suspended from the practice of law for 90 days and placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to three counts of professional misconduct in a single client matter: appearing on a client's behalf without authority, failing to maintain a legal or just action, and misleading the court.
In the underlying matter, a property owner agreed to sell her property which had been foreclosed on to the mother of the tenant leasing it, but became disappointed when the buyer hired her own broker for the transaction and served a 90-day notice terminating the tenancy. The seller's broker then suggested that she file for bankruptcy, which would afford her more time to sell the property, but she rejected the idea.
Without the seller's consent, the buyer then contacted Graham about the possibility of the seller filing an emergency Chapter 13 bankruptcy to stop a trustee's sale of the property. She later erroneously informed him that the seller and her broker authorized her arrange for him to file the bankruptcy--and provided him with the seller's address and Social Security number.
Without seeking confirmation, Graham filed the bankruptcy petition, which included several misrepresentations--including the seller's electronic signature, a false certificate of credit counseling, and false declaration he had informed the seller about bankruptcy options.
The seller later refused to sign documents related to the unauthorized bankruptcy, which was ultimately dismissed.
In aggravation, Graham committed multiple acts of misconduct, significantly harmed the seller whose record now contains a bankruptcy filing, and displayed indifference to his wrongdoing while failing to acknowledge it.
In mitigation, he entering into a prefiling stipulation and had practiced law discipline-free for approximately 14 years.

Chaka H. Grossman
State Bar #239941, Beverly Hills (February 26, 2018)
Grossman was suspended in the interim pending final disposition of his conviction of unlawful possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm (Cal. Health & Safety Code §11370.1(a)). The offense is a felony that may or may not involve moral turpitude.

Gary Lee Hicks
State Bar #239743, East Lansing, Michigan (February 12, 2018)
Hicks was suspended from practicing law in the interim pending final disposition of his conviction of attempted criminal sexual conduct with an incapacitated victim (Mich. Comp. Laws §§750.520e(1)(c) and 750.92). The offense is a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.

Lynn Hubbard, III
State Bar #69773, Chico (February 26, 2018)
Hubbard was suspended from the practice of law pending proof of passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam--one of the terms imposed in an earlier disciplinary order.

Alan Vance McAllister
State Bar #57733, San Jose (February 7, 2018)
McAllister was suspended from the practice of law for 30 days and placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to one count of failing to perform legal services with competence in a single client matter.
McAllister was hired to probate and disburse an estate that included several real estate parcels owned in partnership. He initiated the process by filing a petition. A court subsequently issued an order permitting the decedent's former business partner's claim against the estate, resolving all outstanding issues in administering the estate. However, McAllister took no action to complete the work for nearly eight years.
In aggravation, McAllister harmed the administration of justice by burdening the court's docket with the delayed legal action and preventing the estate beneficiaries from receiving property to which they were entitled.
In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation and had practiced law for approximately 44 years without a record of discipline.

Gregory Lee Parkin
State Bar #55989, Fullerton (February 7, 2018)
Parkin was suspended from practicing law for 90 days and placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to six counts of professional misconduct related to two client matters. His wrongdoing included: acquiring an interest adverse to a client, falsifying court filings, failing to keep a client informed of significant case developments, failing to notify the State Bar he had employed an attorney he knew had resigned, allowing an employee he knew had resigned to practice law, and failing to supervise an employee he knew had resigned but was practicing law in his office.
In one case, Parkin hired an attorney who later resigned from the State Bar with charges pending against him. In contravention of state rules (Cal. Rules of Prof. Cond., Rule 1-311(D)), he did not notify the State Bar of the continuing employment.
Parkin was hired to pursue a claim for HIPAA violations; the fee agreement specified that an appeal would be filed and identified the resigned attorney as a legal assistant/paralegal in the firm. Instead of appealing, a new lawsuit was filed. The client subsequently fell in arrears in paying his attorney fees and agreed to sign a lien against his interest in a piece of real property, which was acquired without the client's written consent. After Parkin withdrew from representation, the buyer of the property sued him for quiet title; he then relinquished his interest in the lien.
In the other client matter, Parkin represented the husband in a dissolution case. In the representation, the resigned attorney in Parkin's firm engaged in settlement negotiations with the wife and her lawyer, identifying himself as an attorney in Parkin's firm. Parkin also appeared at several court hearings in the case, allowing the resigned attorney to handle the negotiations.
Parkin eventually terminated his relationship with the resigned attorney and sent him a cease and desist letter directing him to stop using the firm's name.
In aggravation, Parkin committed multiple acts of misconduct.
In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation and had practiced law for approximately 43 years without a record of discipline.

Dean Edward Smart
State Bar #130410, Mission Viejo (February 26, 2018)
Smart was suspended in the interim pending final disposition of his convictions of assault likely to produce great bodily injury (Cal. Penal Code §245(a)(4)) and discharging a firearm with gross negligence that could cause injury or death (Cal. Penal Code §246.3(a)). Both offenses are felonies that may involve moral turpitude.

Roger Ira Stein
State Bar #47168, Ridgecrest (February 12, 2018)
Stein was suspended from practicing law pending his passage of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam as mandated by the California Supreme Court in an earlier disciplinary order.

Mario Gilberto Valencia
State Bar #235749, Valencia (February 7, 2018)
Valencia was suspended from practicing law for 30 days and placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to committing two acts of professional misconduct in a single client matter: failing to perform legal services with confidence and failing to respond to a client's reasonable inquiries about the case status.
Valencia was paid $3,000 in advanced fees to represent a woman in a dissolution of marriage case; he filed the petition. About six months later, the client informed him she and her husband had reached an informal agreement in the matter--and she instructed him to proceed with a stipulated divorce. The filings and requests Valencia submitted to the court were rejected seven times for various deficiencies; he failed to respond to the client's many texts, emails, and phone calls about the marriage status. Because of the filing deficiencies, the divorce was not finalized until nearly five years after Valencia was initially retained.
In aggravation, Valencia committed multiple acts of misconduct that significantly harmed his client, who was financially harmed by having to pay her estranged husband's medical bills and remained unable to remarry for several years.
In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation and was afforded slight mitigation credit for having practiced law for eight years without a record of discipline before the current misconduct.

Amy Lillian Vichinsky
State Bar #250534, Corning, New York (February 12, 2018)
Vichinsky was suspended from the practice of law in the interim pending final disposition of her conviction of attempting to falsify business records in the first degree (N.Y. Penal Law §§110.00 and 175.10)--a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.

Dolores Victor
State Bar #221720, Fairfield (February 20, 2018)
Victor was suspended from practicing law pending proof of passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination--one of the conditions imposed in an earlier disciplinary order.

Phuong Dave Vo
State Bar #257186, Westminster (February 26, 2018)
Vo was suspended in the interim pending final disposition of his conviction of bribery concerning programs involving federal funds (18 U.S.C. §666(a)(1)(B)), a felony involving moral turpitude.

PROBATION
John Eom
State Bar #181774, Los Angeles (February 7, 2018)
Eom was placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to two counts of failing to comply with court orders and one count of failing to report court-imposed sanctions to the State Bar. All the misconduct was related to two client matters.
In one case, Eom was hired to represent a client in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. He filed the initial petition, but the case was dismissed due to his failure to file required document as requested by the court. After he also failed to appear at a hearing on why fees should not be disgorged, Eom was ordered to pay $5,000 in sanctions, which he did not pay within the 14-day time limit, nor did he report the sanctions order to the State Bar as required.
In the second case, a bankruptcy court ordered Eom to file a disclosure of compensation form and eventually to disgorge fees; he did not comply and was held in civil contempt. The contempt was purged several days later after filed the disclosure of compensation and declaration as directed and disgorged $3,000 in fees received from the client.
In aggravation, Eom committed multiple acts of misconduct.
In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation, had practiced law for nearly 20 years without a record of discipline, provided character reference letters from eight individuals, and suffered from family problems during the time of the misconduct--including his own divorce and his mother's serious illness.

PUBLIC REPROVAL
Daniela Natasha Lopez-Garcia
State Bar #276915, Sacramento (February 28, 2018)
Lopez-Garcia was publicly reproved after she stipulated to pleading nolo contendere to driving with a blood alcohol content level of .08 or more (Cal. Veh. Code §23152(b)) with an admitted sentencing enhance for a blood alcohol concentration of .24 (Cal. Veh. Code §23538(b)(2)).
A resident was in his home when he heard a collision outside and saw his vehicle had been damaged; he also saw Lopez-Garcia driving away. He then got into his car and followed her vehicle--observing her run a stop sign. Investing police officers subsequently found her in her parked and damaged vehicle; tests at the scene indicated her blood alcohol content was well over the legal limit.
In mitigation, Lopez-Garcia entered into a pretrial stipulation and was allotted nominal mitigating weight for having practiced law for six years without a record of discipline. In addition, she submitted eight letters from eight individuals taken from the legal and general communities attesting to her good character and was suffering from stress related to her brother's medical condition and her own health problems; she also voluntarily participated in an alcohol treatment program.

Vyacheslav Kuznyetsov
State Bar #290407, Van Nuys (February 8, 2018)
Kuznyetsov was publicly reproved after he stipulated to pleading nolo contendere to one count of driving under the influence of alcohol (Cal. Veh. Code §23152(a)). He had been involved in a traffic collision with an unoccupied vehicle, then left the scene without stopping.
In mitigation, Kuznyetsov entered into a pretrial stipulation and provided letters from eight individuals in the general and legal communities who attested to his good character,

#347539

For reprint rights:

Email jeremy@reprintpros.com for prices.
Direct dial: 949-702-5390

If you would like to purchase a copy of your Daily Journal photo, call (213) 229-5558.

Send a letter to the editor:

Email: letters@dailyjournal.com