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Disbarments
  1. KEVIN PAUL BJERREGAARD
  2. WILLIAM JOHN SALICA
  3. RICHARD MIRASOL CHIU

KEVIN PAUL BJERREGAARD [#127949], 51, of Newport Beach was disbarred Nov. 20, 2010, and he was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Bjerregaard committed 24 counts of misconduct in six client matters. He misappropriated more than $300,000 from clients in four separate matters.

In one matter, Bjerregaards clients authorized him to settle a lawsuit for $740,000. Although he made that offer to the opposing counsel, he later agreed to a settlement of $248,000 without notifying his clients, and he misappropriated that amount. He also told the opposing counsel that his clients would indemnify the defendants for any liability they might incur in case a third party contested the settlement. He prepared settlement and indemnification agreements, as well as a declaration, all purportedly signed by his clients. In fact, the clients knew nothing of any of the documents. Bjerregaard also stipulated to a judgment without his clients’ knowledge. He did not distribute any settlement funds to his clients and allowed the balance in his client trust account to fall below the required amount.

Bjerregaard represented one of the same clients to handle a lawsuit against an insurance broker. The case settled for $45,000 and Bjerregaard asked that the check be made out to him, although he was not entitled to any portion of the funds. He falsely claimed his client owed him substantial attorney’s fees and that the client agreed to use the settlement proceeds to pay a portion of those fees. Bjerregaard put the money in a non-client trust account.

In reporting on the case to his client, he made a series of misstatements. He also billed the client for work that was not done.

The same client hired Bjerregaard to handle a JAMS proceeding. He didn’t try to mediate the dispute but provided an unauthorized stipulation that bore his client’s forged signature. Again without the client’s authorization, he selected an attorney the client would not have picked.

The defendant filed a cross-complaint against Bjerregaard’s client, seeking $30 million in damages. Bjerregaard didn’t tell the client, who was questioned about the cross-complaint in a deposition. Bjerregaard later falsely told the client the opposing party was in the process of dismissing the cross-complaint.

When the arbitrator granted a judgment of $30 million to the opposing party, Bjerregaard did not notify the client. The client was not able to obtain his complete files from the three cases and was not able to contact Bjerregaard.

In those three cases, State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn found that Bjerregaard committed 14 acts of misconduct, including eight counts of moral turpitude, failures to perform legal services competently, communicate with clients or release client files and he made misrepresentations and committed trust account violations.

He failed to perform legal services competently in three other matters or refund unearned fees, and he committed more acts of moral turpitude by misappropriating client funds and making numerous misstatements.

In mitigation, Bjerregaard practiced for 16 years without a discipline record.

WILLIAM JOHN SALICA [#92896], 64, of Las Vegas was disbarred Nov. 20, 2010, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Salica was terminated from the Alternative Discipline Program for lawyers with substance abuse or mental health issues. He stipulated to numerous counts of misconduct in five consolidated matters, including moral turpitude, charging an illegal fee and practicing while not entitled, as well as failures to perform legal services competently, refund unearned fees, comply with a court order, promptly pay client funds, release client files, respond to client inquiries or take steps to protect clients’ interests.

Salica’s misconduct, said State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn, evidences multiple acts of wrongdoing . . . trust property or funds were involved . . . and (he) was unable to account to the client or person who was the object of the misconduct for improper conduct toward the property or funds.”

Salica also was disciplined in 2003 after stipulating to 23 counts of misconduct in six consolidated matters, ranging from commingling funds to failing to obey court orders.

RICHARD MIRASOL CHIU [#145258], 50, of Houston was disbarred Nov. 25, 2010, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In a default proceeding, the State Bar Court found that Chiu misappropriated almost $1,800 from a client in Texas. The funds were to have paid for the medical expenses of two personal injury clients. State Bar Court Judge Richard Platel wrote, “This court concludes that, under California law, the appropriate level of discipline for the misconduct established in this proceeding is disbarment, which is the same discipline that Texas imposed on respondent for the same misconduct.”

Chiu represented a couple in a personal injury case, but did not pay their physician. Although he sent two checks, both bounced because they were written against a closed account. Two of three new checks, written against insufficient funds, also bounced.

There is nothing in the record, Platel wrote, “that suggests, much less establishes, a compelling reason for this court to recommend something other than disbarment.”

. 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.