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Disbarments
  1. FLOYD GEORGE BELSITO
  2. ASHLEY C L BROWN
  3. LORRAINE DICKSON
  4. REYNALDO L. OCHOA
  5. RICHARD CARROLL SINCLAIR
  6. PHILLIP MONROE SMITH
  7. DOMINIQUE NGHI THIEU
  8. TINA TRAN
  9. STANLEY ALARI
  10. RICHARD EUGENE ASHBRAN
  11. EDWARD MEDINA
  12. DANNY ROBERT TAYLOR
  13. WILLIAM ROBERT TROIANI
  14. JACK ISRAEL ADLER
  15. JACOB DONG CHANG
  16. CHRISTIAN KELLEY JENSEN
  17. VICTOR DEWITT
  18. RICHARD KIERNAN GRIFFITH
  19. MANJIT K. RAI
  20. JOHN THOMAS RAFFLE
  21. JAMES JOSEPH WARNER

FLOYD GEORGE BELSITO [#103635], 81, of Santa Ana, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution.

Belsito was disbarred after his default was entered for failing to respond to a notice of disciplinary charges. Because he did not seek to have the default set aside or vacated within 90 days, he was disbarred and the charges against him deemed admitted.

Belsito engaged in 15 counts of misconduct involving seven client matters. They include: practicing law in Nevada, Texas and Florida, where he was not licensed, charging and collecting illegal fees, collecting advanced fees for home loan modification services and failing to release a file upon a client’s request or clearly indicate that a communication or solicitation concerns an attorney or law firm’s availability for professional employment.

Belsito was ordered to pay $13,495 plus interest in restitution.

ASHLEY C L BROWN [#210159], 48, of Garden Grove, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution.

The State Bar Court found Brown culpable of three counts of misconduct in one client matter in which he served as both the escrow agent and attorney for the seller. He failed to maintain in his client trust account $30,000 a couple had put down as a deposit to buy a house, dispersing more than half of the money when he was not authorized to do so. In addition, he never provided the couple with an accounting and engaged in acts involving moral turpitude.

He was ordered to pay $6,505 plus interest in restitution.

In mitigation, he had no prior record of discipline.

LORRAINE DICKSON [#220841], 42, of Santa Ana, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution.

A State Bar Court hearing judge recommended Dickson be disbarred, finding her culpable of 44 counts of misconduct. Dickson appealed and a three-judge review panel dismissed many of the counts but still recommended she be stripped of her law license, finding her culpable of “21 counts of misconduct, which is serious in its breadth and reveals an ongoing disregard for the public, the courts, and the legal profession.”

In one matter she was disciplined for, Dickson prepared and filed a custody and support petition for a client but did not file it, then provided a number of excuses as to why she had not done so. When the petition turned out to be flawed, she agreed to revise it, but never did. Opting to proceed in pro per, the client asked for a refund and accounting, and Dickson claimed for the first time that her fee was $450 and that she had already earned more than she had been paid. She agreed to refund a $350 court filing fee, but never did and did not provide a copy of the revised petition.

In another matter, she advised a client considering a medical malpractice claim to consult with a doctor for an expert opinion and collected $6,000 to secure the appointment. She did not put the money in her client trust account. After the client decided not to go the doctor, Dickson claimed she had applied the cash to her credit card balance, used the credit card to secure the appointment and could not get a refund. She later said the $6,000 applied to other legal work she claimed to have done for the client. The doctor later testified at trial that his office does not accept credit card payments and that he didn’t receive any payments from Dickson.

In a third matter, Dickson agreed to create a nonprofit entity on behalf of a client and, although she did not provide a fee agreement, agreed to do all the work necessary for a $6,000 flat fee. While she prepared various documents, she did not do all of the work she had been paid to do and the organization did not become a tax-exempt entity. The client also had trouble contacting her, and she twice misled him, claiming she had done the work necessary to obtain tax-exempt status. She also never returned any funds to the client.

In another matter, Dickson failed to perform on behalf of a client in a criminal matter. She also agreed to represent brothers who had been sued in a property dispute for a flat fee of $6,000, but claimed the money hadn’t been paid, and failed to perform in their matter, respond to status inquiries, communicate important developments in their case, obey several court orders or pay resulting sanctions. She also submitted two checks to the court written against insufficient funds.

In addition, she failed to perform in a probate matter, and did not respond to status inquiries,  return client papers or cooperate with a State Bar investigation. She also engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while on inactive status, sought to mislead a judge by filing a false declaration and failed to comply with conditions of her disciplinary probation.

She had one prior record of discipline, a 2011 suspension for failing to perform legal services competently or respond to client inquiries.

REYNALDO L. OCHOA [#103771], 71, of Orange, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution.

Ochoa failed to respond to a notice of disciplinary charges, and his default was entered. Because he made no effort to have the default set aside or vacated within 90 days as required under rule 5.85 of the State Bar’s Rules of Procedure, he was disbarred and the charges against him deemed admitted.

In a single client matter, Ochoa failed to return any portion of $1,300 in unearned fees to a client, file a substitution of attorney, file a motion to vacate or set aside a default on behalf of his client or cooperate in a disciplinary investigation.

Ochoa was ordered to pay $1,300 plus interest in restitution.

He had two prior records of discipline. In 1990, he was privately reproved for failing to perform legal services with competence. In 1992, he was publicly reproved for again failing to perform legal services with competence or to communicate.

RICHARD CARROLL SINCLAIR [#68238], 67, of Oakdale, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court found Sinclair culpable of four counts of misconduct in two matters. One of the matters involved a piece of property initially owned by Sinclair and his wife in Turlock where a townhouse complex called Fox Hollow was developed.

Sinclair engaged in a fraudulent real estate scheme involving the complex that included creating the false appearance of a homeowners association and individually salable lots; seeking and obtaining loans secured by portions of the complex based on false pretenses; skimming off loan proceeds, rental income, tenant deposits and other fees; and making misrepresentations to courts to conceal and further the scheme to defraud. He also caused an altered trial exhibit to be submitted in a civil matter.

In addition, he failed to obey a court order by not paying $1,150 in sanctions in a civil matter and did not report those sanctions to the State Bar.

Sinclair received limited mitigation for serving as a pro-tem jurist for the Stanislaus County Superior Court.

He had one prior record of discipline, a 2014 public reproval for providing loan modification services without issuing the legally mandated disclosure statement, accepting advanced loan modification fees and failing to perform services of value or promptly issue a refund.

PHILLIP MONROE SMITH [#169821], 68, of Los Angeles, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution.

A State Bar Court judge recommended Smith be disbarred after finding him culpable of trust account violations and intentionally misappropriating $10,122.25 in personal injury settlement funds over a four-month period in 2011 and 2012. Smith appealed, claiming inexperience with contingency fee cases. A review panel agreed with the hearing judge’s decision.

Despite being inexperienced with bodily injury claims, in 2009 Smith agreed to represent an 86-year-old woman in a slip-and-fall case. After the case settled for $50,000, Smith began to experience financial problems due to his agreement to pay all the nonmedical cost of the lawsuit. He misappropriated more than $10,000 in client funds, using the money to pay office expenses.

Smith received some credit in mitigation for nearly 18 years of discipline-free practice prior to his misconduct.

DOMINIQUE NGHI THIEU [#236914], 41, of Fountain Valley, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Thieu admitted misappropriating $25,000 of her client’s funds in February 2012. In 2010, she agreed to represent a client and help him recover money owed to him by another man. After paying the client some of the money from his settlement, minus her fees, Thieu misappropriated $25,000 from a second settlement check. The money was used for Thieu’s personal and office expenses. Thieu later wrote the client a check from her business account which was returned due to insufficient funds.

Some 11 months after learning about the State Bar complaint against her, Thieu sent the client a cashier’s check for $30,000.

Thieu received some mitigation for having no prior record of discipline, good character and remorse and recognition of her wrongdoing.

TINA TRAN [#283842], 31, of Walnut Creek, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution.

Tran was disbarred after her default was entered for failing to respond to a notice of disciplinary charges. Because she did not seek to have the default set aside or vacated within 90 days, the State Bar moved to disbar her under rule 5.85 of the State Bar’s Rules of Procedure.

The charges were deemed admitted. Tran failed to perform legal services with competence by not filing a will on behalf of her client. She also failed to respond to reasonable status inquiries, promptly release her client’s papers and property, return $3,000 in unearned fees or cooperate with the State Bar in a disciplinary investigation.

She was ordered to pay $3,000 plus interest in restitution.

STANLEY ALARI [#53058], 82, of Nevada City, was disbarred March 19, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Alari failed to file a declaration of compliance with rule 9.20 as required by an earlier disciplinary order.

He had two prior records of discipline, a 2015 suspension for failing to comply with his disciplinary probation and a 2013 private reproval for failing to appear in court on behalf of a client, respond to the client’s communication or refund unearned fees.

RICHARD EUGENE ASHBRAN [#60467], 69, of Glendora, was disbarred March 19, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Ashbran failed to maintain a balance of $17,050 from a client’s settlement in his client trust account, misappropriating the money for his own purposes. He ultimately paid the client the money he was owed.

In 1993, Ashbran was privately reproved for failing to return subrogation files to his insurance company client despite repeated requests to do so.

EDWARD MEDINA [#204880], 62, of San Diego, was disbarred March 19, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

The State Bar Court found Medina culpable of failing to notify clients and the courts of a previous license suspension and moral turpitude for falsely reporting to the State Bar he had done so. In another matter, he appeared in bankruptcy court on a client’s behalf while suspended. In addition, in 2014 he filed 129 documents with the bankruptcy court on behalf of his clients in various matters while suspended, engaged in acts involved moral turpitude and made misrepresentations in letters to the State Bar.

In mitigation, Medina cooperated with the State Bar and presented evidence of his good character.

His June 2014 suspension was for falsely reporting to the State Bar he was in compliance with his MCLE requirements when he knew that he was not.

DANNY ROBERT TAYLOR [#91924], 66, of Palm Desert, was disbarred March 19, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Taylor was found culpable of violating the conditions of his disciplinary probation. He failed to file three quarterly reports to the Office of Probation on time, meet deadlines for making restitution payments to three clients, pay full restitution plus interest or pay court sanctions on time.

He had four prior records of discipline. In 2000, he received a private reproval following convictions for battery and trespassing, both misdemeanors. In 2001, he was suspended for practicing law while not entitled, failing to maintain a current address with the State Bar, improperly withdrawing from employment, disobeying court orders and failing to maintain respect for the courts. He was suspended again in 2010 for failing to perform legal services competently, maintain client funds in trust, promptly pay out client funds, communicate with clients or cooperate with the bar’s investigation, violating his probation, misappropriating $3,135 in settlement funds, writing checks against insufficient funds and abandoning clients.

Most recently, he was suspended in 2012 for failing to comply with probation conditions attached to a disciplinary order.

WILLIAM ROBERT TROIANI [#236916], 53, of Irvine, was disbarred March 19, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution.

Troiani committed misconduct in five matters. In one, he collected upfront fees for loan modification work, collected illegal fees, aided a nonlawyer in the practice of law, commingled personal funds in his client trust account, held himself as entitled to practice law when he wasn’t and committed an act involving moral turpitude.

He also failed to provide any services and did not return unearned fees to a client in a custody matter and did not tell the client he was withdrawing from employment. In addition, he allowed his name to be listed as general counsel for International Sports Agency, as well as on the company’s website, when he was not entitled to practice law.

In a fourth matter, he accepted representation of a client while not entitled to practice law, collected an illegal fee of $1,500 and held himself out as entitled to practice law when he was not. In addition, he employed a disbarred lawyer, allowing him to engage in activities that constituted the practice of law and failed to inform the State Bar he was employing him.

Troiani was ordered to pay $10,860 plus interest in restitution.

JACK ISRAEL ADLER [#97380], 68, of Moreno Valley, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Adler was disbarred after his default was entered for failing to respond to a notice of disciplinary charges. Because he did not seek to have the default set aside or vacated within 90 days, he was disbarred and the charges against him deemed admitted.

Adler failed to file a declaration of compliance with rule 9.20 as required by an earlier disciplinary order. He had two prior records of discipline, a 2012 suspension for appearing before courts when he was not entitled to practice law and a 2013 suspension for not complying with rule 9.20.

JACOB DONG CHANG [#174476], 47, of Van Nuys, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Chang failed to appear at his disciplinary trial and his default was entered. He did not seek to have the default set aside or vacated within 45 days, and the State Bar moved to disbar him under rule 5.85 of the State Bar Rules of Procedure.

In one matter, Chang failed to deposit client funds in trust or cooperate with a State Bar investigation and issued a $3,724 check when there were insufficient funds to cover it.

He had two prior records of discipline. He was suspended in 2011 for misconduct in seven matters, including failing to obey court orders, report sanctions, pay out client funds, cooperate in a disciplinary investigation, competently perform legal services, refund unearned fees or promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries. In 2015, he was suspended again for failing to competently perform legal services, engaging in acts of moral turpitude by making misrepresentations to his clients and failing to refund unearned fees, account, promptly release a client’s file, cooperate in a disciplinary investigation or promptly respond to reasonable status inquiries.

CHRISTIAN KELLEY JENSEN [#214239], 50, of Lafayette, was disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution.

Jensen was disbarred after his default was entered for failing to appear at trial. Because he did not seek to have the default set aside or vacated within 45 days as required under rule 5.85 of the State Bar’s Rules of Procedure, he was disbarred and the charges deemed admitted.

Jensen misappropriated $4,250 from a client’s settlement, failing to maintain client funds in his trust account or inform the client he had received the money.

In another matter, he failed to review any documents in preparation for a client’s hearing and did not appear at the hearing. He also made false statements to a State Bar investigator, improperly withdrew from employment and failed to refund unearned fees or respond to client inquiries.

Jensen was ordered to pay $5,725 plus interest in restitution.

VICTOR DEWITT [#53408], 78, of Placentia, was disbarred March 19, 2016, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

DeWitt was disbarred after his default was entered for failing to respond to a notice of disciplinary charges. Because he did not seek to have the default set aside or vacated within 90 days as required under rule 5.85 of the State Bar’s Rules of Procedure, he was disbarred and the charges against him deemed admitted.

DeWitt engaged in three counts of misconduct in a single client matter. He failed to promptly release client papers and property, provide his client with an appropriate accounting or respond to letters from a State Bar investigator.

He had one prior record of discipline, a 1993 suspension for grossly mishandling his attorney trust account, commingling personal funds with client funds and failing to promptly pay client funds.

RICHARD KIERNAN GRIFFITH [#41807], 78, of Honolulu, was disbarred March 19, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Griffith was disbarred after his default was entered for failing to respond to charges that he violated rule 9.20. He did not seek to have the default set aside or vacated within 90 days so the bar moved to disbar him under rule 5.85 of the State Bar’s Rules of Procedure. The charges were deemed admitted.

Griffith had two prior records of discipline: a 2012 suspension for misconduct he engaged in while practicing law in Hawaii and a 2014 suspension for failing to comply with the conditions attached to his disciplinary probation.

MANJIT K. RAI [#215698], 40, of Surrey, Canada, was summarily disbarred March 18, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

On June 25, 2009, Rai was convicted of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, conspiracy to make false statements, aiding and abetting immigration fraud, aiding and abetting false statements and making false statements.

JOHN THOMAS RAFFLE [#170973], 48, of Morris Plains, N.J., was summarily disbarred March 19, 2016 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In June 2013, Raffle pleaded guilty to two felonies involving moral turpitude: conspiracy to commit wire, mail, and securities fraud and aiding and abetting false statements.

JAMES JOSEPH WARNER [#63137], 67, of San Diego, was summarily disbarred and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In July 2014, Warner pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and attempted harassment of a witness.

. 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.