BRUCE DONALD SAFRAN [#58206], 55, of Tarzana
was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual
three-year suspension and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE and
comply with rule 955. The order took effect Sept. 14, 2000.
Safran represented a client in a fraud case stemming from an
investment venture in which she lost $32,000. He stipulated that he arranged a $10,000
settlement without the clients knowledge, forged her signature on the settlement
agreement and the check, misappropriated the money and dismissed the suit without telling
Two years later, Safran created a fictitious judgment which called
for a $21,000 settlement and set out a payment schedule. He forged the opposing
attorneys signature. For the next two years, he engaged in an elaborate scheme to
deceive his client and conceal his theft, paying her about $21,000 in settlement
payments, many of them late or drawn against insufficient funds. He used his
personal, office and client trust account funds to make the payments.
He stipulated that he failed to keep his client informed about
developments in her case, notify her of receipt of settlement funds, or maintain the
settlement funds in trust. The forgeries, misappropriation and deceit of his client were
acts of moral turpitude.
In another matter, Safran was arrested in 1997 for having sex with a
prostitute in his car. He entered a plea of no contest to one count of trespass and the
original charge of engaging in lewd conduct in public was dropped.
Safran has a prior record of discipline. In 1976, he was suspended
following a conviction of two counts of annoying or molesting children, and in 1998, he
was disciplined for his actions in the fraud case.
In mitigation, he cooperated with the bars investigation. As a
result of the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake, his home was badly damaged requiring absences
from his law practice, and he suffered emotional problems. He also devoted significant
time to charitable and community activities.
NORBERT ANTHONY SCHLEI [#28772], 71, of Santa Monica
was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with a six-month
actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. He received credit for
38 months spent on interim suspension and is now an attorney in good standing. The order
took effect Sept. 14, 2000.
Once head of the office of legal counsel under Presidents Kennedy and
Johnson, Schlei and his Los Angeles law firm accepted a case in 1985 representing 60
Japanese nationals who were the holders of two kinds of financial instruments in very
large denominations the smallest was the yen equivalent of $100 million.
What began as an extraordinarily complicated case ultimately led to a
misdemeanor conviction for Schlei, who never admitted guilt, after six years of criminal
prosecution and a half million in legal fees which led to his financial ruin.
The goal of the case was to persuade the Japanese government to
acknowledge that disputed certificates of redemption and cashiers checks were
genuine and represented part of a secret slush fund dating back to the occupation of Japan
after World War II. Schlei believed the bank notes were valid.
The case was pursued off and on for seven years and was never
resolved; Schlei and the firm never received any payment for their services. Over the
course of the case, Schlei consistently advised the government and everyone with whom he
discussed the matter that the genuineness of the bank notes was disputed.
At one point, one of his clients secretly met with an individual and
entrusted some of the disputed bank notes to him. Schlei had advised his clients to avoid
the individual and was unaware of the meeting.
U.S. Treasury agents set up a sting operation and arrested the
individual, who gave the agents access to his safe deposit box containing the bank notes.
Schlei and his client were indicted on 15 counts which portrayed his
legal work as part of a conspiracy, even though he had had no contact with two of his
co-defendants and had advised his clients to have no contact with the co-defendant who was
arrested in the sting operation.
Schlei was convicted of one felony and one misdemeanor. As a result
of the felony conviction, the State Bar Court placed him on interim suspension. Two and a
half years later, an appellate court reversed and vacated both convictions and remanded
the misdemeanor (conspiracy to possess counterfeit foreign bank notes) to the district
court for a hearing on Schleis motion for a new trial based on government
intimidation of witnesses.
Nine months later, bar prosecutors notified the court and it lifted
the interim suspension which by then had lasted more than 38 months.
When Schlei was offered a deal a few months later under which he
would drop his claims in exchange for leaving the misdemeanor conviction in effect, he
accepted, without admitting guilt and believing the bar would not pursue the matter
Instead, the bar, which had earlier said the misdemeanor may or
may not involve moral turpitude changed its mind, said it did involve moral
turpitude and issued a second interim suspension. A month later, it granted Schleis
motion to vacate in the interests of justice.
The criminal proceedings, the payment of defense costs and the
interim suspension have irreparably damaged [Schleis] livelihood, financial
resources and reputation, wrote bar court Judge Madge Watai. She concluded that
although the conspiracy conviction is conclusive evidence of Schleis guilt, it was
not a crime of moral turpitude.
She noted his distinguished career, extensive
professional affiliations and almost 40 years of charitable and civic activities.
WILLIAM ROBERT SIEFKES [#160381], 37, of Huntington Beach
was suspended for 30 days, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to
take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept. 14, 2000.
Siefkes stipulated to two counts of misconduct, stemming from
convictions. In one case, he pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol level of .21
percent with a prior.
In the second matter, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery, after
he was arrested at his apartment complex swimming pool. He had fallen into the pool three
times and then as he stepped into a jacuzzi, he grabbed the hand of another individual,
bending it backward.
Police officers who responded said Siefkes had bloodshot eyes,
slurred speech, a three-day growth of beard, was unsteady and smelled of alcohol.
In mitigation, he has no record of prior discipline and cooperated
with the bars investigation.
FELIX TORRES JR. [#135480], 50, of Fair Oaks was
suspended for five years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual
three-year suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE, comply with rule 955 and prove his
rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 14, 2000.
Torres appealed a State Bar Court hearing judges recommendation
that he be disbarred, and review Judge Kenneth Norian reduced the recommended discipline.
Norian upheld the hearing depart-ments finding that Torres
committed acts of moral turpitude by harassing a client and inflicting emotional distress
Torres represented the client in a medical malpractice case against a
plastic surgeon. According to Norians decision, Torres unintentionally gave her
incorrect legal advice and the court awarded the plastic surgeon almost $10,000 in costs.
At about that time, Torres began to receive hang-up phone calls which
he believed were being made by his angry client. As a result, he made more than 100 late
night phones calls to her, hanging up or leaving an anonymous message.
The client sued Torres for malpractice, harassment, intentional
infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress and won a
$308,000 jury verdict. During the trial, Torres falsely asserted that he and the client
had a social relationship. Torres has not paid her anything; he is indigent and lives on
public and private disability payments.
Norian reversed the hearing judges findings that Torres
advanced facts prejudicial to his client and failed to communicate with her.
However, he said Torres testimony before the bar court was
dishonest and that he harmed his client, displayed indifference and did not appreciate the
seriousness of his misconduct.
In mitigation, Torres provided many hours of free legal services to
the poor and disadvantaged.
BRADLEY ALAN ARNOLD [#93085], 64, of Woodland Hills
was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual
30-day suspension and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation and take the MPRE within one
year. The order took effect Sept. 23, 2000.
Arnold stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in a trust
account and misappropriated nearly $9,000 in client funds.
Arnold represented a client in a personal injury case on a
contingency fee basis. His partner settled the case and the two lawyers received a
settlement draft for $15,000 which they deposited into their client trust account. Neither
attorney disbursed money to the client or to a lienholder, and they allowed the balance in
the trust account to fall below the required amount. At one point, the balance was below
About nine months after receiving the settlement funds, Arnolds
partner gave the client $5,282 as his share and said he was keeping about $3,500 to
reimburse the insurer for medical payments made. The insurer was never reimbursed.
In mitigation, Arnold displayed candor and cooperated with the
He has two previous discipline orders. In 1993, he was suspended and
placed on probation for failing to act competently or pay out client funds. In 1996, he
was disciplined again for failing to act competently or respond to reasonable client
LARRY JAMES BRYANT [#80908], 54, of Los Angeles
was suspended for three years, stayed, and was actually suspended for two years and until
he attends ethics school, makes restitution, proves his rehabilitation and the State Bar
Court grants a motion to end the suspension. He also was ordered to comply with any
probation conditions imposed as a condition of terminating the suspension, and he must
take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order took effect Sept. 23, 2000.
In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Bryant did
not comply with the terms of a 1997 probation: he filed no probation reports, did not make
restitution or attend ethics school, and he did not keep his address current with the bar.
The underlying misconduct included failing to report a sanction to
the bar and failing to cooperate with the bars investigation.
MARCELLO MARIO DiMAURO [#59302], 55, of Glendale was
suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual 30-day
suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept.
The charges against DiMauro involved overdrafts from his client trust
account; the insufficient funds were a result of poor bookkeeping and failing to wait the
requisite period of time for deposited checks to clear.
In three separate matters, 27 checks were written against
DiMauro stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in a trust
In mitigation, no clients were harmed, DiMauro cooperated with the
bars investigation and he presented evidence of his good character.
He was privately reproved in 1987 for failing to act competently.
JEFFREY STEVEN NELSON [#149494], 44, of Tampa, Fla.,
was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual
20-month suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE. If the actual suspension exceeds two
years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 23, 2000.
In 1998, Nelson pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of writing a
bad check for $850. The check did not involve his client trust account, had nothing to do
with the practice of law, and Nelson made restitution. However, the misconduct involved
moral turpitude and Nelson has been on interim suspension since July 1998.
At the time, Nelson was a deputy attorney general with the California
Attorney General. As a result of the interim suspension, he lost his job. He complied with
the conditions of his probation and in January 2000, he withdrew his plea and his
conviction was dismissed.
He has no record of discipline.
TONY RODRIGUEZ [#102882], 48, of Cerritos was
suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual
18-month suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. The order
took effect Sept. 23, 2000.
Rodriguez stipulated to 19 counts of misconduct, all involving
mishandling his client trust account, in four consolidated cases.
He repeatedly wrote checks against insufficient funds, allowed the
balance in the trust account to fall below the required amount, misappropriated client
funds, failed to maintain client funds in a trust account, commingled personal and client
funds, and failed to cooperate with the bars investigation. Some of the misconduct
amounted to moral turpitude.
Rodriguez has been disciplined twice previously. In 1994, he
stipulated to issuing nine checks against insufficient funds and failing to maintain
client funds in trust, and in 1996, he was disciplined for failing to file two quarterly
ALAN RUBINSTEIN [#93371], 49, of Westminster was
suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual
60-day suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and prove his
rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 23, 2000.
Rubinstein stipulated to misconduct in seven consolidated matters,
each involving improper maintenance of his client trust account, failure to perform legal
services competently and committing acts of moral turpitude.
Rubensteins problems were the result of lax supervision of an
individual he hired to do collection work. He did not carefully oversee either the
substance of client files or accounting methods used by his employee, nor did he
adequately review his client trust account.
The employee forged Rubensteins signature on several checks and
impersonated Rubenstein in order to obtain wire transfers from the account. As a result,
the balance in the account fell below the required amount repeatedly.
In mitigation, Rubenstein has no record of discipline, demonstrated
remorse and showed rehabilitation, presented testimony attesting to his good character and
cooperated with the bars investigation.
ANDRE KEITH SILVOLA [#109154], 51, of Colorado Springs, Colo.,
was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a one-year
actual suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect
Sept. 23, 2000.
Silvola was disciplined in 1998 but failed to comply with the terms
of his probation. He failed to file seven quarterly reports, or submit a law office
management plan or proof of his attendance at six hours of MCLE classes.
The original discipline entailed failure to act competently or
respond to client inquiries, accepting compensation from a non-client, failure to properly
withdraw from employment and committing acts of moral turpitude. Silvola was disciplined
again for not complying with the terms of his probation.
In mitigation, he suffers from major depressive disorder, for which
he receives treatment, and he cooperated with the bars investigation.
ALAN CRAIG BAIL [#88955], 47, of Playa del Rey was
suspended for two years, stayed, placed on five years of probation and was ordered to take
the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept. 29, 2000.
Bail stipulated to misconduct in six consolidated cases, all
involving personal injury cases.
In one matter, he deposited in his trust account $145,000, of which
$42,000 should have been paid to the U.S. Postal Service, his clients employer, for
reimbursement of workers compensation benefits, and another $31,000 to seven medical
Bail paid one doctor nine months after receiving the settlement, paid
two other medical liens 20 months later, and did not pay the rest. Several years after the
settlement, he still owed the postal service more than $14,000, but his client trust
account had a balance of just under $2,000.
Bail failed to file suit in another matter resulting in a significant
financial loss for his client. He lost another case and judgment was entered for the
opposing clients for their costs, but her never informed his clients. When his health
deteriorated, he informed some clients he could no longer handle their matters, but he did
not return complete files.
Bail stipulated to one count of failing to perform competently and
one count of failing to pay out client funds and to two counts each of failing to respond
to client inquiries or keep clients informed of developments in their cases, return client
files and hold client funds in a client trust account, and to misappropriating client
funds, a violation involving moral turpitude. He also did not keep his address current
with the State Bar.
In mitigation, Bail has taken steps to atone for any consequences of
his misconduct, including ceasing practice at the end of 1995, remaining inactive from
1996 to the present and seeking psychiatric evaluation. He also suffered extreme emotional
difficulties from which he has recovered through medical treatment.
Bail also was disciplined in 1993 for failure to return a file,
return unearned fees or account for client funds.
DONALD BARNETT [#33012], 63, of Rolling Hills Estates
was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual 60-day
suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Sept.
Barnett stipulated that in a personal injury case, he failed to
properly maintain client funds in a client trust account, commingled client and personal
funds and failed to promptly pay out client funds as requested.
He settled the case, which he took on contingency, for $33,000, but
allowed the balance in his trust account to fall below the required amount before paying
his clients medical bills. A month after the settlement, Barnett deposited a check
for $50,000 a loan in the trust account, and several months later another
loan for $15,000.
In mitigation, Barnett took steps to demonstrate his remorse,
cooperated with the bars investigation and presented testimony attesting to his good
KENNETH DAVID BUCKWALTER [#50213], 54, of Auburn was
suspended for one year, stayed, placed on actual suspension until the State Bar Court
grants a motion to terminate the suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply
with rule 955. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, Buckwalter must prove his
rehabilitation. The order took effect Sept. 29, 2000.
Buckwalter was suspended in 1997 and ordered to comply with rule 955.
At the time, he was attorney of record in a case in El Dorado County.
He failed to provide notice of his suspension to opposing counsel or
the court by the deadline; the notice was dated properly but not mailed until three weeks
after the deadline. He filed an affidavit with the State Bar Court, stating he had
complied with rule 955.
While suspended, Buckwalter made two court appearances in connection
with the El Dorado case and entered into an agreement on behalf of his client.
In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Buckwalter
practiced law while suspended and failed to comply with rule 955.
The original discipline was the result of failing to perform legal
services competently, entering into a business transaction with a client without obtain
the required written consent and knowingly acquiring a pecuniary interest adverse to his
client without providing the required written notice or obtaining the required written
The probation of RICHARD M. CANTILLON [#27479], 72, of
Riverside was revoked, a previously ordered stay of suspension was lifted and he
was actually suspended for three years and until he makes restitution and proves his
rehabilitation. He was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 955. Credit toward
the actual suspension will be given for the period of involuntary inactive enrollment
which began June 5, 2000. The order took effect Sept. 29, 2000.
Cantillon stipulated to misconduct in 11 consolidated cases and in
1998 was suspended and placed on probation, with requirements that he pay more than
$54,000 in restitution to 23 individuals and prove his rehabilitation. In addition, he was
ordered to submit quarterly probation reports.
Cantillon did not submit five probation reports.
He has a record of prior discipline, including a 1995 private
reproval for failing to supervise his employees or perform legal services competently. He
was later suspended for 30 days for not complying with the probation requirements attached
t the reproval.
The 1998 discipline involved 28 clients and multiple instances of
misconduct, including 21 counts of failing to act competently or refund unearned fees, and
multiple counts of failing to respond to client inquiries, promptly pay out client funds,
return client files, or cooperate with the bars investigation, and for charging an
ROBERT RAFAEL CATALANO [#37408], 61, of Bakersfield
was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with a three-year
actual suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation, take the MPRE and comply
with rule 955. The order took effect Sept. 29, 2000.
Catalano sought review of a State Bar Court hearing judges
discipline recommendation, arguing that it was excessive. The review department upheld the
Catalano was convicted in 1994 of wilful disobedience of a court
order, a misdemeanor, and four misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns. The
hearing judge found that disobeying a court order involved moral turpitude and the other
counts involved misconduct warranting discipline.
Over a 10-year period, Catalano suffered severe financial problems as
a result of a contentious divorce, the acrimonious break-up of his law partnership and a
dispute with his former partner over fees from a case in the state of Washington. He filed
for bankruptcy twice and was a defendant in a costly lawsuit stemming from his efforts to
buy a house.
He misrepresented to a bank from which he sought a $100,000 line of
credit that a certificate of deposit he pledged as security was owned by him and
unencumbered by any liens. In fact, the CD was purchased with the attorneys fees and
costs from the Washington case and was subject to claims by his former partner. Catalano
eventually was ordered by a court to pay his ex-partner that money, plus interest,
amounting to $125,000.
Catalano and his wife did not file tax returns for 1984-87 because,
they said, their records were in the possession of either attorneys and accountants for
Catalanos first wife, attorneys and accountants for his creditors, or parties
involved in the bankruptcy. He subsequently filed his returns, but has not paid all his
back taxes and is trying to work out a five-year payment plan.
The no contest plea to a charge of disobeying a court order resulted
from the dispute over the fees in the Washington case.
The review department found that Catalanos misconduct involved
deception or concealment and that his testimony and arguments before the hearing
department demonstrated a lack of insight into his misconduct.
TIMOTHY L. DAVIS [#141612], 46, of Columbus, Ohio,
was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual
two-year suspension, and was ordered to prove his rehabilitation and take the MPRE. Credit
will be given for the period of interim suspension which began June 24, 1999. The order
took effect Sept. 29, 2000.
Davis pleaded guilty in 1999 to assault with a deadly weapon and
making threats to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily harm.
In mitigation, he has no record of discipline since his 1989
admission to the bar and he cooperated with its investigation.
GERALDINE D. GREEN [#50282], 67, of Los Angeles was
suspended for three months and until she pays sanctions and proves her rehabilitation. The
order took effect Sept. 29, 2000.
In February 1991, Green filed a wrongful death suit against Los
Angeles County; it was dismissed in July.
In September, she filed suit in state court and subsequently filed
four amended complaints.
In February 1994, the court denied her motion to file a fifth amended
complaint and sanctioned her more than $1,000, ruling that she had acted in bad faith and
used frivolous tactics. She did not report the sanction to the State Bar for more than two
In 1995, Green returned to federal court and filed an action similar
to the original federal complaint. The court dismissed the case, said it was frivolous and
sanctioned Green $2,312.
Green stipulated that she continued her employment knowing that her
objective was to pursue litigation that was not warranted under law.
Green has a record of three disciplines. In 1993, she was privately
reproved for failing to properly maintain her client trust account or pay out client
funds, and in 1995, she was suspended for failing to act competently, return client
papers, comply with probation conditions, respond to client inquiries or cooperate with
the bars investigation and disobeying a court order.
Last year, she was suspended again for failing to respond to client
inquiries or perform competently and for committing acts of moral turpitude.
In mitigation, she suffered from severe financial stress at the time
of the misconduct.