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Suspensions/Probation
  1. PAUL ERNEST VALLONE
  2. JOHN CLIFTON ELSTEAD
  3. RICK L. RAYNSFORD
  4. ALEXANDER WARREN TUCKER
  5. LUIS ESTEBAN VASQUEZ 
  6. STEPHAN C. WILLIAMS
  7. STEPHEN DOUGLAS ZUCKERMAN
  8. HIEU DUC DO
  9. ABEL HERNANDEZ
  10. MARK ABRAM POSNER
  11. STARR JAN SINTON
  12. EMMANUEL EKE ENYINWA
  13. GRETCHEN VIRGINIA O’NEAL
  14. LEIGH ANNE PATTEN
  15. LOUISA BELLE PENSANTI
  16. GREGORY PETER FALK
  17. ANNETTE L. GOUDY
  18. THOMAS PATRICK HAYS
  19. MARK ALAN ROGERS
  20. KARLA RUIZ
  21. FRANK AURELIO YOKOYAMA
  22. DAVID KYLE
  23. ANTHONY NGULA LUTI
  24. DAVID MICHAEL SPIEKER
  25. HOA PHU TRUONG
  26. JUDITH GROSS WEINSTOCK
  27. JAMES LYNN BAUCHERT
  28. BOB STEVEN PLATT
  29. ARSHAK BARTOUMIAN

The probation of PAUL ERNEST VALLONE [#168395], 48, of Martinez, was revoked, the previous stay of suspension was lifted, he was suspended for two years and until he shows proof of his rehabilitation, and he was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect May 17, 2013.

Vallone failed to comply with the requirements of a 2011 disciplinary order by not timely scheduling a meeting with his assigned probation deputy, not providing proof of having attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and not arranging to have drug and alcohol tests to show he was abstaining from drugs and alcohol. Vallone also failed to abide by other terms of his probation, including providing the Office of Probation with a medical waiver.

In the underlying discipline, Vallone was found to have committed five acts of misconduct in four matters, three of which involved convictions for driving under the influence.

JOHN CLIFTON ELSTEAD [#61048], 70, of Oakland, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual six-month suspension and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and to take the MPRE. The order took effect May 17, 2013.

Elstead sought review of a State Bar Court hearing judge’s recommendation that he receive a two-year actual suspension. The hearing judge found Elstead culpable of five of eight counts he was charged with, including failing to account to clients, committing acts of moral turpitude, failing to return unearned fees and accepting fees from a non-client. Elstead challenged the judge’s culpability findings, claiming that the premature introduction of aggravating factors clouded the outcome of his case.

A three-judge panel found Elstead culpable of only three of the counts of misconduct, that he failed to account to two clients and improperly accepted attorney fees from a third party without his client’s consent. The panel also found significantly less aggravation in Elstead’s case than the hearing judge did.

In the two matters that led to his discipline, Elstead did not provide a client with a proper breakdown of fees deducted from a settlement the client received for a lawsuit filed over complications resulting from a surgical procedure. In the other, Elstead accepted $15,000 in fees from a client’s wife and sister without first getting the client’s permission.

Elstead has one prior discipline on his record. In 2005, he stipulated to a public reproval based on one count of misleading a judge.

RICK L. RAYNSFORD [#105157], 56, of Mission Viejo, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years' probation with an actual 60-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect May 22, 2013.

Raynsford stipulated to three counts of misconduct in three client matters: failing to return unearned fees and two counts of improper withdrawal from employment. Two of the cases occurred after a non-lawyer approached Raynsford about going into business together to do home loan modification work, leading Raynsford to start the Oxford Dunn Law Group. Unbeknownst to Raynsford, the non-attorney began taking clients under Oxford's name. Once he learned what was happening, Raynsford immediately shut down the business and disassociated himself from the non-attorney. Raynsford then set up another company to help former Oxford clients whose files had been abandoned by the non-attorney. But Raynsford shut down that business before completing work on two of those clients’ cases.

In mitigation, Raynsford had no other discipline in more than 26 years of practice, was candid with the State Bar in discipline proceedings and demonstrated remorse for his actions.

ALEXANDER WARREN TUCKER [#202794], 76, of El Cajon, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual four-month suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect May 22, 2013.

Tucker was found culpable of failure to render accounts of client funds in one client matter. Tucker had initially been charged with five counts of misconduct but the State Bar Court hearing judge found that the testimony of the former client who brought the complaint against Tucker was not credible. Even so, State Bar Court Judge Donald Miles wrote in his decision that Tucker had committed misconduct that he was not charged for – accepting payments from a third party to represent another person whom he did not have a fee agreement with – which is an aggravating factor.

“While the misconduct may not be the subject of independent discipline because of the lack of prior notice, it may, under the circumstances, be treated by this court as an aggravating factor for the purpose of determining the appropriate discipline for another violation,” Miles wrote.

In mitigation, Tucker had no prior discipline.

LUIS ESTEBAN VASQUEZ [#162798], 51, of Santa Ana, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 90-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect May 22, 2013.

Vasquez stipulated to two counts of misconduct in one client matter, failing to perform legal services with competence and failing to respond to client inquiries. Vasquez was hired to represent a client in connection with an IRS audit and to negotiate better terms of a judgment issued against him by an insurance company. Vasquez failed to respond to messages left by the client about forwarding documentation to the IRS, leading the agency to close his case and assess a $100,000 penalty against his business. He also did not communicate the terms of the insurance company judgment to the client and failed to respond to repeated requests for a status update.

Vasquez was publicly reproved in 2011 for failure to perform, failure to promptly release client papers and materials, failure to return an unearned fee, failure to respond to client inquiries and failure to cooperate with the State Bar in a disciplinary investigation. The discipline arose out of Vasquez’s representation of a client in a bankruptcy proceeding.

STEPHAN C. WILLIAMS [#37755], 70, of Walnut Creek, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years’ probation with an actual one-year suspension and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect May 22, 2013.

Williams stipulated to not timely filing a declaration of compliance with rule 9.20, one of the requirements of a 2012 disciplinary order.

In the underlying case, Williams stipulated that he misappropriated at least $2,171 from a client, failed to deposit client funds in a trust account and committed acts of moral turpitude.

STEPHEN DOUGLAS ZUCKERMAN [#47329], 71, of Los Angeles, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 60-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect May 22, 2013.

Zuckerman stipulated that he was in compliance with MCLE requirements when, in fact, he had not completed any MCLE courses within the compliance period, Feb. 1, 2008 through Jan. 31, 2011.

In mitigation, Zuckerman had no prior record of discipline in 42 years of practicing law.

HIEU DUC DO [#179849], 46, of Westminster, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 60-day suspension and ordered pay restitution and take the MPRE. The order took effect May 24, 2013.

Do stipulated to misconduct that stemmed from his representation of a client in connection with her bankruptcy and her divorce from her husband. He willfully disobeyed and violated orders of the bankruptcy court, did not inform the State Bar of monetary sanctions that the bankruptcy court imposed upon him and represented a client and communicated about the subject of that representation with a party he knew was represented by another lawyer, without the consent of that lawyer. Do also stipulated that he threatened to report another lawyer to the State Bar in order to gain an advantage in a civil case.

In mitigation, Do had no prior record of discipline, cooperated with the State Bar investigation and suffered from extreme emotional difficulties that could be tied to the misconduct. As part of the stipulation, Do was ordered to pay $25,665 in restitution.

ABEL HERNANDEZ [#159902], 55, of San Antonio, Texas, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 90-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect May 24, 2013.

Hernandez stipulated to failing to contact the Office of Probation and schedule a meeting with his assigned probation deputy and failing to file three quarterly reports with probation as required by a 2011 disciplinary order.

In the underlying case, Hernandez received a private reproval for failing to perform legal services with competence and failing to respond to client inquiries.

MARK ABRAM POSNER [#94714], 61, of Culver City, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 90-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect May 24, 2013.

Posner stipulated to commingling earned fees in his client trust account, failing to participate in a State Bar investigation and holding himself out as entitled to practice law when he was actually suspended for failure to pay his membership dues.

In mitigation, Posner had no prior record of discipline and entered into a stipulation in one matter before a notice of disciplinary charges was filed against him.

STARR JAN SINTON [#60017], 66, of San Diego, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect May 24, 2013.

Sinton stipulated that he reported to the State Bar that he had met his MCLE requirements when he had not completed any courses within the compliance period.

In mitigation, Sinton had no prior discipline in nearly 37 years of practice and cooperated with the State Bar investigation.

EMMANUEL EKE ENYINWA [#207088], 46, of San Francisco, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 30-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect May 31, 2013.

Enyinwa stipulated that he failed to take action in a client’s immigration case and failed to promptly return $3,000 in unearned fees and waited more than six months to provide the client with an accounting for the advanced fees.

Enyinwa had prior discipline, a private reproval in 2009.

GRETCHEN VIRGINIA O’NEAL [#219837], 40, of Peoria, Ariz., was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual 90-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect May 31, 2013.

O’Neal stipulated to falsely reporting to the State Bar that she had completed all of her MCLE requirements during the compliance period when she had not done any.

In mitigation, O’Neal had no prior discipline and cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation.

LEIGH ANNE PATTEN [#249790], 42, of Laguna Niguel, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 60-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and to pay restitution. The order took effect May 31, 2013.

Patten stipulated to misconduct involving a client’s breach-of-contract case and for failing to abide by the terms of a 2011 private reproval. Patten failed to appear on behalf of her client for the first day in her client’s civil trial, leading the judge to dismiss the matter. Patten also failed to inform the client that her case had been dismissed.

Patten also stipulated that she failed to make restitution to two former clients, a requirement of the earlier private reproval, and did not attend ethics school. Patten’s earlier discipline resulted from her representing the clients in home loan modification matters in Nevada, despite the fact she was not licensed to practice law there.

Patten was ordered to pay $9,500 in restitution, plus interest.

LOUISA BELLE PENSANTI [#200988], 64, of Sherman Oaks, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect May 16, 2013.

Pensanti stipulated to three counts of professional misconduct in one client matter, but in June 2012 the California Supreme Court returned the matter for further consideration as to the level of discipline. Pensanti maintained that the stipulated discipline – a one-year stayed suspension and one year of probation – was adequate, while the State Bar recommended an additional actual suspension of two months.  A State Bar Court hearing judge found the original discipline to be adequate to protect the public.

Pensanti stipulated that she failed to perform legal services with competence, failed to promptly return unearned fees and appeared for a party without authority. Among other things, Pensanti failed to file an opening brief in her client’s appeal, causing it to be dismissed. She later tried, unsuccessfully, to have the appeal reinstated, despite the fact that her client had already fired her and retained a new attorney. Despite two requests by the new attorney, Pensanti failed to promptly return $10,000 in unearned fees.

In mitigation, Pensanti had no other discipline in 12 years of practicing law, was candid and cooperative with the State Bar, has shown remorse for her actions and made changes to prevent future problems, including developing a new office management plan to protect the public. In addition, Pensanti paid a $10,000 refund of unearned fees, plus 10-percent interest, to the complainant after the matter was returned to the State Bar.

GREGORY PETER FALK [#76361], 60, of Bakersfield, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on three years’ probation and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect May 31, 2013.

Falk stipulated to one count of misconduct in a single client matter. Specifically, he failed to perform meaningful work for two years on an adoption case.

Falk has two prior disciplines. In 1985, he received a six-month stayed suspension and six months of probation for failing to communicate with a client and failing to perform legal services competently. In 1995, he was publicly reproved for two counts of failing to communicate with a client.

In mitigation, Falk showed candor and was cooperative with the State Bar during the investigation and by entering into a stipulation. He also presented evidence of his good character and was remorseful for his wrongdoing.

ANNETTE L. GOUDY [#152608], 55, of Santa Ana, was suspended for 18 months, stayed, placed on two years’ probation and was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect May 31, 2013.

Goudy stipulated that she failed to promptly return unearned fees and to render an accounting to a client who hired Goudy to help her file for conservatorship of her mother. The woman’s mother died shortly after the client retained Goudy, who had not yet filed a conservatorship application on her client’s behalf. Goudy waited for more than four years to return the $5,000 in unearned fees and only did so after the client filed a small claims case against her.

In mitigation, Goudy had no prior misconduct and cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation, eliminating the need for a trial.

THOMAS PATRICK HAYS [#153187], 48, of Irvine, was suspended for two years stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual six-month suspension and ordered to take the MPRE, comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and pay restitution. The order took effect June 7, 2013.

Hays stipulated to violating state law by accepting advanced fees for loan modification work, to practicing in law in Kentucky, a state where he was not admitted, and to collecting an illegal fee. Hays operated a company called Triton Law Group PC, run specifically to offer loan modifications, from Dec. 22, 2010 through June 25, 2011, when he shut the firm down.

In mitigation, Hays had no prior discipline and was engaged in a child custody battle at the time of the misconduct, following the death of his ex-wife. He also cooperated with the State Bar, admitted to his misconduct and entered into a stipulation, saving the State Bar resources and time.

Hays was ordered to pay $26,059 in restitution, plus interest.

MARK ALAN ROGERS [#186442], 54, of Pasadena, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 60-day suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE and pay restitution. The order took effect June 7, 2013.

Rogers stipulated that he took a $10,000 loan from a client without providing any security to ensure he would repay it and did not advise her that she could seek the advice of independent counsel or give her the opportunity to do so. The client loaned Rogers the money in June 2009, and as of December 2012 he had only repaid $8,500 of it. As a condition of the stipulation, Rogers was ordered to pay the client the remaining $1,500, plus interest.

In mitigation, Rogers had no prior discipline and cooperated with the State Bar.

KARLA RUIZ [#269598], 29, of Uiryeong-gun, South Korea, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation with an actual 60-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect June 7, 2013.

Ruiz stipulated that she falsely reported to the State Bar that she had met her MCLE requirements when, in fact, she had not completed all of her necessary hours.

In mitigation, Ruiz cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation.

FRANK AURELIO YOKOYAMA [#169912], 44, of Cerritos, 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. The order took effect June 7, 2013.

Yokoyama stipulated to falsely reporting to the State Bar that he had completed all of his MCLE requirements during the compliance period when he had not done any. Yokoyama later took the courses to come into compliance after the State Bar contacted him regarding an audit of MCLE compliance.

In mitigation, Yokoyama had no prior discipline in 17 years of practicing law and cooperated with the State Bar in its investigation and by entering into a stipulation.

DAVID KYLE [#55821], 77, of Inglewood, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual six-month suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect June 13, 2013.

Kyle stipulated to not timely filing a declaration of compliance with rule 9.20, which was required of him as the result of a 2012 disciplinary order. The underlying discipline was for three counts of misconduct in handling his client trust account: He twice failed to maintain a proper balance in the trust account and failed to keep complete records of client funds.

Kyle received an earlier private reproval in 2001 for failing to promptly account for or pay out client funds.

In mitigation, Kyle showed candor and cooperated with the State Bar and stipulated to his misconduct prior to the formal filing of charges.

ANTHONY NGULA LUTI [#207852], 43, of Hollywood, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 120-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect June 13, 2013.

Luti stipulated to failing to promptly remove earned fees from his client trust account and to writing checks, making withdrawals and causing electronic withdrawals to be made from the accounts, actions that constituted the commingling of funds. Luti also continued to deposit client funds in his client trust account after discovering that someone was making fraudulent debits from the account, breaching his fiduciary duty to his clients and demonstrating gross negligence in the handling of client funds.

In mitigation, there was no evidence that any clients lost money as a result of Luti’s misconduct and he entered into a stipulation prior to the filing of disciplinary charges against him.

DAVID MICHAEL SPIEKER [#215548], 55, of Modesto, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual one-year suspension and ordered to take the MPRE, pay restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect June 13, 2013.

Spieker stipulated to misconduct in five loan modification matters, including failing to perform legal services with competence and failing to return unearned fees. In addition, Spieker formed a partnership with non-lawyers, allowed his name to be used in connection with their loan modification business, shared fees with non-lawyers, aided in the unauthorized practice of law and left the partnership without taking custody of client files for which he was responsible.

According to the stipulation, Spieker entered into a partnership with two non-lawyers who did business under the names Home Loan Auditors, Century Alliance Group and Century Law Center, operating the partnership with them from May to September 2009.

As part of their agreement, Spieker received a salary and the two non-lawyers took what was left from legal fees the business brought in for loan modification services. During the course of their partnership, the two partners and other non-lawyers handled loan modification cases, engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, aided by Spieker. On Sept. 25, 2009, the two partners fired Spieker, and Spieker abandoned the business leaving client files behind.

In mitigation, Spieker had no prior discipline and cooperated with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation. He was ordered to pay $28,995 in restitution, plus interest.

HOA PHU TRUONG [#156411], 60, of Fountain Valley, was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years’ probation with an actual 90-day suspension and  ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect June 13, 2013.

Truong stipulated to accepting representation of more than one client in a matter in which the interest of the clients potentially conflicted, without obtaining their informed written consent. Truong represented a driver and passenger who had been in a car accident, but later dropped the driver after learning that the accident was his fault.

Truong has one prior discipline. In 2008, he stipulated to misconduct in two client matters. The misconduct included failing to perform work with competence, failing to inform his client of significant developments in the client’s case and failing to return unearned fees.

In mitigation, Truong entered into a stipulation prior to the filing on disciplinary charges against him, saving the State Bar time and money.

JUDITH GROSS WEINSTOCK [#93413], 61, of Los Angeles, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of suspension with an actual 30-day suspension and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect June 13, 2013.

Weinstock stipulated to falsely reporting to the State Bar that she had completed all of her MCLE hours when, in fact, she had not met any part of the requirement. Weinstock took the required courses after the State Bar contacted her in connection with an MCLE audit.

In mitigation, Weinstock had practiced law for 31 years without a prior discipline and entered into a stipulation with the State Bar.

JAMES LYNN BAUCHERT [#170174], 62, of Grand Terrace, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation and ordered to take the MPRE and pay restitution. The order took effect June 7, 2013.

Bauchert stipulated to misconduct in two divorce matters. In one of them, he failed to perform legal services with competence, failed to return unearned fees, failed to release a client’s file after she had terminated him and failed to respond to the State Bar complaint filed against him. A client hired Bauchert to file her petition for divorce, but fired him after he failed to meet a Feb. 24, 2012 deadline for filing the petition as she had instructed him to. Bauchert did not return the $3,000 in unearned fees or the client’s file until the following November after the client filed a complaint with the State Bar.

In the other matter, Bauchert failed to perform legal services of value, complicating a couple’s divorce. He also failed to return $5,000 in unearned fees.

In mitigation, Bauchert had no prior record of discipline, acknowledged his wrongdoing and cooperated with the State Bar. In addition, at the time of his misconduct he was suffering from severe uncontrolled diabetes which left him lethargic, unable to concentrate, fatigued and confused.

He was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution, plus interest.

BOB STEVEN PLATT [#80534], 65, of Burbank, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on probation for one year and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect June 7, 2013.

The State Bar Court found Platt culpable of two counts of misconduct for bouncing checks written on his client trust account. Specifically, Platt failed to maintain client funds in a trust account and did not cooperate with a State Bar investigation. Platt did not respond to three letters sent to him by a State Bar investigator, claiming at trial that they must have been lost in the mail.

In mitigation, Platt had no prior discipline. He also received limited mitigation for cooperating with the State Bar by entering into a stipulation of facts.

ARSHAK BARTOUMIAN [#210370], 41, of Glendale, was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation and ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect June 13, 2013.

Bartoumian stipulated that he disobeyed court orders in connection with a civil case in which he represented the plaintiffs. Among other things, Bartoumian failed to properly file a substitution of attorney form and then failed to show cause in writing as to why he should not be sanctioned for his error.

In mitigation, Bartoumian had no prior discipline and was candid and cooperative during the State Bar’s investigation.

. Caution!  More than 200,000 attorneys are eligible to practice law in California. Many attorneys share the same names. All discipline reports are taken from State Bar Court documents and should be read carefully for names, ages, addresses and bar numbers. Read the Discipline Key for an explanation of the different levels of disciplinary action. Use Attorney Search to check an attorney's official bar membership record.