A Riverside attorney who was convicted of looting
conservator-ships in a scheme that prosecutors said victimized
vulnerable, mostly elderly people was placed on interim suspension
March 17. MICHAEL J. MOLLOY [#116877] was sentenced to 16
years, four months in state prison after being convicted of seven
felony counts, including embezzlement by a caretaker of elder adults,
grand theft and procuring perjury.
In imposing the sentence, Judge Donald Rudloff
said Molloy "used his legal skills to ride roughshod over his
Molloy, 50, was the principal probate lawyer for
Bonnie Cambalik, the owner of West Coast Conservatorships Inc., a
Riverside company frequently appointed by the probate court to manage
the finances and handle the affairs of elderly or infirm people who
could not care for themselves.
Prosecutors said Molloy served as a "bridge"
between Cambalik and the court, preparing and signing legal papers
that kept the court apprised of the status of Cambalik's
conservatorships. Cambalik could not have stolen money from her
incapacitated clients without Molloy's legal skills, which helped to
legitimize her business, they said.
According to trial testimony, Molloy falsified
ledgers and court papers to accomplish the thefts. He was accused of
collecting $207,283 in unauthorized attorney fees and enabling
Cambalik to steal $263,193 in unauthorized fees from various
However, an attorney for Amwest Surety Insurance
Co., which bonded Cambalik, said the company has paid losses in 34
conservatorship estates totaling more than $2.2 million, with the
potential of another $1 million in claims.
Cambalik pleaded guilty to 22 felony counts of
embezzlement by a caretaker, grand theft, perjury and receiving stolen
property and was sentenced in December to 26 years in prison.
Molloy's trial focused on 16 estates for which
documents submitted to the court contained false information. Among
the evidence prosecutors presented were cancelled checks bearing
drawn on conservatorship accounts for amounts not authorized by the
In one case, the victim was a disabled teenaged
girl under a guardianship. In another, prosecutors said Molloy
prepared a will for an individual who already was dead, forged
signatures and filed it with the court.
The man's actual will had bequeathed his estate
to charity. Under the phony will, however, $265,000 went to Cambalik
rather than to the Salvation Army, the estate's intended recipient.
Although Molloy was charged with perjury for
telling the court the liquidated assets were still in the estate, the
jury found him not guilty, saying the evidence was insufficient.
Two of West Coast's employees, secretary Ramona
Saenz and bookkeeper Diana Mikol, also were charged with helping to
steal more than $750,000 from clients. Saenz pleaded guilty to being
an accessory to thefts and Mikol, who is Saenz' daughter, pleaded
guilty to one count of theft. Mikol testified at the trial that Molloy
showed her how to falsify estate accountings to defraud the court.
West Coast Conservatorships shut down in 1999.
Cambalik had operated the business since 1986, handling more than 300
conservator-ships during the intervening years.
Molloy's attorney focused on his activities as
a Little League coach and law school instructor and argued that his
client was scapegoated by a local legal community embarrassed that his
activities went unnoticed for years.
His plea for mercy went unanswered. Instead,
Rudloff said, "The mindset of the co-conspirators was, 'Wow, it
worked once, let's do it again, let's do it again, let's do it
again.' They took the position, 'After all, what would a group of
Molloy also got in trouble in 1986, when he was
convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse and was suspended from
practice by the State Bar for two months and placed
on 18 months of probation.