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After Four disciplines, more charges lead to resignation

A Los Angeles attorney whose discipline record stretches back 12 years has resigned from the State Bar in the face of five new accusations of misconduct. THOMAS CHARLES LOFFARELLI [#159724], 54, gave up his license March 6, 2008. At the time of his resignation, he was facing charges that he did not refund unearned fees to a client who fired him, abandoned a client after not informing her he could not represent her because he was suspended, and practiced law while suspended, thus violating an order of the Supreme Court,

The resignation marks the final step on a long disciplinary road that began in 1996, when Loffarelli was convicted in Burbank of violating a restraining order obtained by a woman he dated for about a year. The offense was a misdemeanor.

As a result, the bar placed him on two years of probation and imposed a one-year stayed suspension in 1998. But when he didn’t comply with its terms by failing to submit documentation of psychiatric treatment, he was suspended in 2001.

By 2004, he was suspended for actual misconduct, after he admitted that he misappropriated at least $5,700 from a client in a personal injury case, did not pay the client’s doctor bills and did not properly maintain the client’s money.

He also admitted that he filed a bankruptcy petition for an individual who owned property that faced foreclosure. Loffarelli was the property manager and had a partnership in the property. The “client” was unaware of the bankruptcy petition.

As a result of the filing, the foreclosure sale was postponed for two months. But when the property owner learned about the bankruptcy petition, he contacted the fraud unit of the U.S. Trustee’s Office, providing documents that bore forged signatures and contained inaccurate information. The trustee won a request that the case be dismissed.

Although he claimed he had oral authorization to file the bankruptcy, Loffarelli admitted to forgery and submitting inaccurate schedules, and also admitted he would benefit financially if the property were sold rather than foreclosed on. He was sanctioned $1,500, but did not report the sanctions to the bar.

In 2006, Loffarelli was suspended for three years and given five years of probation after he stipulated to eight counts of misconduct in two matters. A brother and sister hired him to handle a trust matter and he received more than $16,000 on their behalf. However, he didn’t handle the money properly or answer his clients’ questions.

Loffarelli owned a company called Tommy Trojan Management LLC, and he sued an individual because the company claimed a 50 percent interest in property purchased by the individual. Loffarelli eventually filed a bankruptcy petition on behalf of that individual without disclosing that he both represented an adverse interest to his client and that he was an interested party.

The petition was dismissed with an order that it not be refiled without court approval. Nevertheless, Loffarelli filed a second petition within two weeks. It was rejected and in answer to an order to show cause, Loffarelli said the petition was not an attempt to circumvent the prior court order. He later acted as a real estate broker when the property was sold, receiving a $16,750 commission.

But the last straw for Loffarelli was a set of charges accusing him of five counts of misconduct in a lawsuit he filed for a client who had a dispute over a commercial lease. Loffarelli was suspended when he filed the suit, in which he used his father’s name as counsel.

The client hired a new lawyer when she could not reach Loffarelli and learned at that time that he was suspended and that he’d filed her case under his father’s name.

The bar charged Loffarelli with unauthorized practice, failing to return the client’s $5,400 advance fee or to withdraw from her case properly and failing to obey the court’s order in his suspension case that he obey the law. The bar also alleged that Loffarelli committed an act of moral turpitude by submitting to the State Bar Court an untrue affidavit that stated he had notified his clients of his suspension.

Those final charges were dismissed at the time of Loffarelli’s resignation.

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