Disappearing attorney resigns

A Visalia attorney who mysteriously vanished, returned home a short time later and eventually was convicted of embezzling nearly $150,000 from a bankruptcy estate has resigned from the bar with charges pending.

David Karl Moos [#91454], 44, was sentenced to 26 months in a federal prison. He resigned from practice March 15, six weeks after the State Bar Court placed him on interim suspension as a result of his criminal conviction.

He was ordered to comply with Rule 955 of the California Rules of Court by notifying clients, courts and other pertinent parties of his troubles and to file an affidavit with the Supreme Court that he has done so.

Moos' problems began when he disappeared Aug. 6, 1994.

He missed a meeting with a client and several court appearances before his family filed a missing person report with local authorities. A sister who visited his house discovered that his clothing, a car and a trailer were missing and an employee reported that he had left behind between 200 and 300 active cases.

On Aug. 18, the Tulare County Superior Court assumed jurisdiction over Moos' practice at the State Bar's request.

Moos eventually called his mother from Louisiana and Florida and was persuaded to return home.

However, the bar began disciplinary proceedings which resulted in Moos' involuntary inactive status.

At the same time, federal authorities discovered he had embezzled $148,300 from two clients in a bankruptcy matter. With the approval of the bankruptcy court, Moos sold his clients' restaurant for almost $400,000, and, although he deposited most of the money into a trust fund, he later embezzled the $148,000.

Moos pleaded guilty to the embezzlement charge and was sentenced to 26 months in prison and three years of probation. He was ordered to repay the missing money to his clients.

The bar charged Moos with 23 counts of misconduct as a result of his disappearance, including failure to perform services competently, communicate with clients, return unearned fees, or cooperate with the bar's investigation, and improperly withdrawing from representation without protecting his clients' interests.