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Disbarments

RIC A. MILITELLO [#193675], 43, of San Diego was disbarred March 9, 2013, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Militello’s default was entered in 2011 because he failed to respond to a charge that he violated rule 9.20 by not submitting to the State Bar Court a declaration that he had notified his clients, opposing counsel and other interested parties of his suspension. When he did not move to have the default set aside within 180 days, he was disbarred under rule 5.85 of the bar’s Rules of Procedure.

In the underlying matter, Militello was suspended and placed on probation in 2011 for commingling, committing acts of moral turpitude by making electronic payments from his client trust account against insufficient funds, and failing to update his official address. He did not participate in that matter, and his default was entered.

The charge of violating rule 9.20 is deemed admitted.

PAUL WARREN PETERSEN [#170922], 52, of Huntington Beach was disbarred March 9, 2013, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Petersen’s default was entered in 2012 when he failed to appear for trial on charges that he committed 25 acts of misconduct in 11 matters. He had filed responses to two notices of disciplinary charges and replaced his attorney to appear on his own behalf. Although State Bar prosecutors appeared for trial, Petersen did not. He did not move to have the default set aside within 180 days and was disbarred under rule 5.85 of the bar’s Rules of Procedure. The charges are deemed admitted.

Nine of the 11 matters involved loan modification activities, one was a bankruptcy and another involved Petersen’s failure to refund advance fees.

His misconduct included improper advertising and solicitation and failures to perform legal services competently, communicate with a client, refund unearned fees or adequately supervise an employee. He also violated state law by accepting advance fees for loan modification work.

Petersen was ordered to pay restitution of $30,711 to his former clients.

MICHAEL STUART PRATTER [#40277], 72, of Las Vegas was disbarred March 9, 2013, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Pratter stipulated that he misappropriated nearly $5,000 that should have been distributed to his client and her doctors. His actions involved moral turpitude.

He settled a personal injury matter for $8,000, and although he kept $2,667 for attorney’s fees, he was entitled to receive $2,640. He was required to maintain $5,360 in his client trust account, but allowed the balance to fall to $406. He did not pay the client’s medical bills.

He has a record of four prior disciplines, including at least one involving client trust account issues. In 1998, he was disciplined for the unauthorized practice of law, failure to refund unearned legal fees, failure to obey a court order and commingling. He was suspended and placed on probation in 2004 for commingling, and in 2011 for violating probation conditions. In 2012, he was disciplined for mishandling a personal injury settlement.

In mitigation, he entered into a stipulation with the State Bar, avoiding the necessity of a trial.

LAURENCE MARK PERLMUTTER [#126165], 53, of Boston was summarily disbarred March 9, 2013, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

In 2012, Perlmutter pleaded guilty to federal charges of money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and failing to file currency reports. Because money laundering is a felony that involves moral turpitude, it meets the criteria for summary disbarment.

RONALD GRADY FINCH [#70822], 63, of Scottsdale, Arizona was disbarred March 16, 2013, and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Finch stipulated that he failed to comply with the conditions of his disciplinary probation by not timely submitting his first and second quarterly probation reports, by not submitting his third, fourth and fifth quarterly probation reports, and for failing to submit proof of attendance and completion of Ethics School or the Arizona State Bar Ethics Program.

Finch has been previously disciplined for similar misconduct, violating the terms of a 2009 disciplinary order for failing to submit three quarterly probation reports and a final report to probation, and by  failing to submit proof of attendance at an ethics course. In the underlying discipline, Finch stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently in Arizona and had not reported a prior imposition of discipline in Arizona to the California bar within 30 days as required by law.

. 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.