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Suspensions/Probation
  1. TIMOTHY CLARENCE BRYSON
  2. PATRICK EARL CATALANO
  3. CRAIG THOMAS WORMLEY
  4. EDWARD MARK CHAVEZ
  5. ELLEN DOUGLAS McGOLDRICK
  6. MICHAEL STUART PRATTER
  7. PIERCE HENRY O’DONNELL
  8. LEONIE ELISABETH DAVIS
  9. BEN EDWARD LOFSTEDT
  10. LEE ALLEN McCOY
  11. NATHANIEL DALE EZEKIEL STERLING
  12. STANLEY ZEIGLER WHITE
  13. NOLAN ANTHONY DelCAMPO
  14. NANA SERWAAH GYAMFI
  15. LARRY PAUL JAMES
  16. KENNETH BRUCE TISHGART
  17. JOHN A. HURLEY
  18. BRUCE GORDON JONES
  19. STEVEN LANCE MAZZA
  20. JAMES GERHART PRICE
  21. ROBERT FRANK ZWIERLEIN
  22. CLIFFORD ALEXANDER DOVER
  23. ERIC ARTHUR FORSTROM
  24. MANSOUR SIG HADDAD
  25. KEVIN MICHAEL HARR
  26. BRIAN D. McMAHON
  27. RIC A. MILITELLO
  28. BRETT A. PEDERSEN
  29. IVAN PEDRO C. PORTO

TIMOTHY CLARENCE BRYSON [#140798], 59, of San Diego was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Feb. 18, 2011.

Bryson stipulated to three counts of misconduct in a probate matter in which he filed a guardianship petition for his clients. He did not correct defects in the petition, as ordered by a probate examiner, nor did he appear at a hearing and the case was taken off the calendar. Bryson did not respond to the clients’ many phone calls over the next nine months.

He had assigned a paralegal to work on the matter, under his supervision. When the paralegal left his employ, Bryson reviewed the file and learned the necessary work had not been done. With the help of a new paralegal, Bryson filed a new petition that was granted – almost three years after he was hired.

An investigator was unable to find Bryson after his clients complained because he did not keep his address current with the State Bar.

He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, respond to client inquiries or maintain a current address and phone number with the bar.

Bryson was suspended in 2001 for failing to adequately supervise a paralegal. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and he took steps to complete the guardianship as soon as he learned his paralegal had not performed the requisite work.

PATRICK EARL CATALANO [#60774], 64, of San Diego was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on one year of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within a year. The order took effect Feb. 18, 2011.

Catalano stipulated that he commingled funds in his client trust account. He deposited a stale settlement check for $45,000 in his trust account, but told his client he would not release any funds until the check cleared. The bank reversed the deposit, the balance dropped and Catalano commingled his funds with client funds to use on an “as needed” basis.

In mitigation, Catalano had no prior discipline record, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and no clients were harmed.

CRAIG THOMAS WORMLEY [#182137], 43, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, and placed on five years of probation, effective July 6, 2011. That discipline followed a Feb. 18, 2011, four-year stayed suspension, five years of probation with a 15-month actual suspension and an order to take the MPRE within one year.

Wormley successfully completed the Alternative Discipline Program after demonstrating a connection between his misconduct and his mental health problems. He stipulated to misconduct in 21 matters: false/misleading advertisement in one matter, failures to pay out client funds (one matter), promptly return a client file (one matter), account for client funds (four matters), refund unearned fees (10 matters) or perform legal services competently (14 matters).

Following his completion of the ADP, the bar filed additional disciplinary charges against Wormley, involving 13 clients and many involving the same types of misconduct during the same timeframe.

In 2002, Wormley founded a law firm that he expected would handle criminal defense matters throughout the state. He advertised extensively in northern and southern California and planned to hire local attorneys as independent contractors whom he would pay a percentage of fees. However, Wormley took no steps to ensure that employees were properly trained or that clients received the services for which they contracted. Further, he delegated authority to non-attorney employees to meet with clients, evaluate their issues and provide legal advice, decide whether to accept their cases and set fees.

He did not attend client meetings, examine the law firm’s practices concerning intake, review its finances or monitor employee actions.

EDWARD MARK CHAVEZ [#146133], 48, of Anaheim was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a one-year actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Conduct. The order took effect Feb. 18, 2011.

Chavez stipulated to four counts of misconduct in two matters.

In the first, he represented a client in a wrongful termination case on a contingency fee basis, settling the claim for $15,000. The client was entitled to $9,000, but Chavez stipulated that he misappropriated $4,000. Nearly a year after the settlement was reached, Chavez wrote a personal check for $4,000 to the client. He stipulated that he failed to maintain client funds in trust and misappropriated client funds, committing an act of moral turpitude.

In the second matter, he represented the executor of the estate of a man whose death was under investigation by the coroner. Chavez told the client he could not file a probate without a death certificate; the client twice provided the certificate. He did not respond to the client’s messages for four months, when he told her he hadn’t filed the probate. He subsequently told her two court dates were scheduled and postponed.

More than three years after he was hired, Chavez had the client sign the required documents, waived his fee and promised to file the papers to conclude the probate. He never did so.

He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently or respond to a client’s status inquiries.

In mitigation, he had no record of discipline since his 1990 admission to the bar, had severe financial and family problems and engaged in extensive charitable activities.

ELLEN DOUGLAS McGOLDRICK [#97721], 57, of Torrance was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with a two-year actual suspension and until she proves her rehabilitation and she was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. She received credit for a period of interim suspension that began Nov. 20, 2009. The order took effect Feb. 18, 2011.

McGoldrick stipulated to three counts of misconduct following three convictions for misdemeanor shoplifting.

She pleaded no contest to petty theft in 2002 after taking merchandise worth $391 from a Long’s drugstore. In 2005, she took $96 worth of merchandise from a Von’s and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor petty theft with a prior. In 2008, she left a Rite-Aid store with four items in her purse and pleaded no contest to felony petty theft with priors. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the felony was reduced to a misdemeanor and the priors were stricken.

In mitigation, she had no prior record in 20 years of practice and was inactive at the time of the incidents, she cooperated with the bar’s investigation and she had personal problems involving depression and excessive use of alcohol. She underwent treatment for those conditions.

MICHAEL STUART PRATTER [#40277], 70, of El Cajon was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a 90-day actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Feb. 18, 2011.

Pratter stipulated to four counts of failing to comply with probation conditions attached to two disciplinary orders.

In 1998, he was suspended and ordered to make restitution, but his probation was extended four times because he did not make restitution. His misconduct included failures to refund unearned fees and deposit client funds in a trust account and he disobeyed a court order and practiced without a license.

In 2006, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began taking lithium, which resulted in hospitalization for mental and physical problems. When the probation ended in 2007, he owed the Client Security Fund $6,167 plus interest, and owed two clients more than $16,000 plus interest. He also submitted 13 quarterly reports late. He stipulated that he failed to comply with probation conditions.

He was again disciplined in 2004, and again stipulated that he violated probation by submitting 15 probation reports late. He admitted that he commingled personal and client funds in his trust account, used the account to pay expenses unrelated to attorney-client matters and failed to properly maintain client funds in a trust account.

In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and agreed to complete restitution.

In two orders that took effect Feb. 23, 2011, PIERCE HENRY O’DONNELL [#81298], 64, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Following convictions for five misdemeanor counts of using a false name in making political contributions, O’Donnell was admitted to the Alternative Discipline Program when he showed a connection between his actions and his mental health issues. He was terminated from the program and given a harsher penalty than had he completed the ADP.

In 2000, he pledged to raise $50,000 in political contributions for then-Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn. According to the State Bar Court, when O’Donnell was unable to raise the money, he advised his staff members, through his assistant, that he would reimburse them for their political contributions to Hahn’s campaign. As a result, 26 individuals contributed to Hahn’s campaign with the understanding that O’Donnell would reimburse each for his or her contribution.

In 2004, O’Donnell was charged with 26 misdemeanor counts of using a false name to make political contributions. He was convicted of five misdemeanor counts as part of a plea agreement, and the remaining counts were dismissed.

LEONIE ELISABETH DAVIS [#224575], 48, of El Dorado Hills was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a one-year actual suspension and she was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Feb. 27, 2011.

Davis stipulated that she did not comply with probation conditions attached to a 2007 disciplinary order. She failed to contact a probation monitor within the required 30 days, update her address and telephone number in a timely fashion or complete restitution, and she submitted eight quarterly reports late or not at all.

In the underlying discipline, she stipulated that she improperly withdrew from employment, failed to account for client funds, refund unearned fees or keep her client reasonably informed about developments in her case.

In mitigation, she cooperated with the bar’s investigation and she was under severe financial stress.

BEN EDWARD LOFSTEDT [#59678], 70, of Fullerton was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within a year. The order took effect Feb. 27, 2011.

Lofstedt stipulated to three counts of misconduct in two matters.

He was hired for $2,500 to submit an offer in compromise to the IRS for his clients. He did not respond to two faxes and a letter from the clients asking for the status of their case and he did not file the offer with the IRS. He did not refund the unearned fee.

In the second matter, he represented the wife in a divorce matter for which he was hired after one trial day was completed. He appeared at trial and received $30,000 as advance attorney fees by order of the court. Two months later, he was relieved as counsel at his request and was ordered to return any unearned fees and account for the client’s funds to the court-appointed receiver. Sixteen months later, he provided an accounting to the lawyer for his client’s ex-husband.

He stipulated that he disobeyed a court order and failed to perform legal services competently or communicate with clients.

Lofstedt also was disciplined in 1994.

LEE ALLEN McCOY [#153631], 47, of Santa Barbara was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual three-year suspension and until he makes restitution and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Feb. 27, 2011.

The State Bar Court found that McCoy committed 38 acts of misconduct in nine matters, including failing to perform competently, release client files, refund $33,929.53 in unearned fees, respond to client inquiries, account for client funds or cooperate with the bar’s investigation and he committed acts of moral turpitude.

All of the cases involved clients who had dispute with the Department of Motor Vehicles, six for DUIs. Typically, McCoy did not do the work he was hired for, and he didn’t return his clients’ phone calls or refund their fees.

The bar asked for McCoy’s disbarment because he abandoned nine clients without returning their fees, showing “a blatant disregard of professional responsibilities.” However, the court found that he accepted responsibility for his misconduct and “has shown that he is determined to be fully rehabilitated and is anxious to resume a productive professional life as an attorney, as evidenced by his entering the Sober Living House, committing to the (Lawyer Assistance Program) and engaging in ongoing mental health treatment.”

McCoy was disciplined in 2003 for practicing law while suspended for non-payment of bar dues. In mitigation, he suffered from extreme emotional difficulties and alcoholism, for which he received treatment, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation, presented evidence of his good character and has done extensive community service.

NATHANIEL DALE EZEKIEL STERLING [#215734], 34, of Fair Oaks was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with a two-year actual suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Feb. 27, 2011.

Sterling stipulated to 23 counts of misconduct in seven matters. In five cases, he entered into agreements with his clients permitting him to charge $250 per hour or 50 percent of the gross recovery, whichever was larger. He ended up charging fees that exceeded the clients’ recovery. He also committed acts of moral turpitude by entering into ambiguous fee agreements and failing to account for his fees. Prior to settling several matters, he did not tell his clients he was billing at the hourly rate and that his fees would exceed the settlement.

In one matter, Sterling’s fees and costs were $37,683 and the client’s net was -$4,655. In another, he charged $46,363 for a judgment of less than $6,000. Another was charged $13,626 for a $13,000 settlement.

During a mediation in which Sterling represented a client on a sexual harassment claim, he told the client he would not take more than 50 percent of the settlement but did not say he would charge her on an hourly basis. Based on that assertion, the client agreed to a $75,000 settlement. In a disbursement letter, Sterling included an 18-page billing statement (the only statement he ever gave the client) indicating his fees and costs totaled $78,763. Sterling never told the client his fees and costs exceeded the amount of the settlement.

After the client complained to the State Bar, he agreed to refund $20,000 to the client in exchange for her agreement to withdraw the complaint.

In another matter, Sterling withdrew from a civil matter, substituting his clients in pro per without telling them or obtaining the court’s approval. He was sanctioned $1,020 but did not pay the sanction for almost three years. He also failed to maintain $26,950 of another client’s settlement funds in trust when the client disputed his fee. He told that client his net recovery was -$34,262.

“There are simply no cases that mirror (Sterling’s) overreaching in collecting unconscionable fees from multiple clients,” according to the stipulation, in which the bar said disbarment would be appropriate. However, the bar agreed to a lesser discipline in light of Sterling’s “youth and inexperience.”

STANLEY ZEIGLER WHITE [#118616], 76, of Beverly Hills was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a 30-day actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Feb. 27, 2011.

White stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently by not properly supervising his staff in a personal injury case. He received a settlement check for $5,800 and paid the client her share. Several months later, she received a letter from a medical provider indicating it had not been paid and was seeking payment from her. White’s staff did not give him the client’s messages over the next six months, although he eventually paid the bill.

White was privately reproved in 2001 and in 2005 was suspended and placed on probation for commingling and failing to pay a medical lien. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation, acted in good faith, demonstrated remorse and the client wasn’t harmed.

The probation of NOLAN ANTHONY DelCAMPO [#152113], 49, of Fair Oaks was revoked, and he was placed on two years of probation with an actual 60-day suspension. The order took effect March 3, 2011.

DelCampo violated the terms of a 2009 disciplinary order by submitting four quarterly probation reports late and failing to provide proof of attendance at ethics school. The underlying discipline was imposed for failure to comply with a 2004 probation imposed after DelCampo stipulated to misconduct in two cases. He admitted he had an improper business relationship with a non-lawyer, failed to perform legal services competently, misled the court, disobeyed a court order and failed to report sanctions to the bar.

NANA SERWAAH GYAMFI [#171480], 43, of Los Angeles was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within a year. The order took effect March 4, 2011.

Gyamfi stipulated that she employed a suspended California lawyer without notifying the State Bar. The other lawyer worked on a criminal appeal Gyamfi was handling.

She was disciplined in 2006 after stipulating to misconduct in four matters. She practiced law while suspended for nonpayment of bar dues and failed to refund advance fees or update her membership records with the bar after changing her office address.

 In mitigation, she presented evidence of her good character.

LARRY PAUL JAMES [#183769], 45, of Sacramento was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 90-day suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect March 4, 2011.

The State Bar Court found that James committed seven acts of misconduct in four immigration matters. He failed to perform legal services competently, refund unearned fees, communicate with clients or cooperate with the bar’s investigation. The court pointed out that three clients, one with two handicapped children and financial problems, had to find other counsel at a cost of $15,000. Another client suffered a direct loss of not being paid in a timely matter.

While representing a couple before the Board of Immigration Review, James did not file a brief and the appeal was denied. Without telling the clients he never filed a brief, he agreed to file a motion to reconsider, which also was filed late and was denied. The bar court found that James’ services “were so deficient as to be worthless.” He did not refund the client’s advance $7,500 fee. The court also rejected his “attempt to shift the blame to his client for his inaction,” and called the late filing inexcusable.

Another client who hired James to help with an immigration matter so she could petition to bring her married daughter to the United States later changed her mind and James agreed to refund the $1,800 fee. However, his office was in disarray and although James thought a refund check was mailed, he did not follow through until the State Bar intervened.

James filed an application for asylum and cancellation of removal for another client. The application was denied and the client was ordered removed but she didn’t leave the country. Although James’ contract with the client did not call for him to represent her on appeal, he agreed to do so because, he said, he felt sorry for her. He filed the appeal one day late and it was denied.

James did nothing to correct the untimeliness of the appeal nor did he explain the significance of the dismissal to the client. He also didn’t tell her that her failure to leave the U.S. voluntarily had an effect on her status. When she appeared for an interview to adjust her status and reapply for admission, she was told the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services did not have jurisdiction because she was in removal proceedings. She was not taken into custody because she had a baby with her. James missed a subsequent appointment and the client hired a new lawyer who got the case reopened due to “ineffective assistance of counsel.”

In another asylum matter, James did not file a motion to reopen a dismissal on time nor did he request a stay from removal. Again the bar court found that James’ services “were so deficient as to be worthless” and his failure to file a required motion on time was “incompetent.” He did not earn nor refund any of the $3,600 fee.

In mitigation, he practiced for eight and a half years without a discipline record, had financial and emotional difficulties and presented evidence of his good character.

KENNETH BRUCE TISHGART [#96206], 57, of Corte Madera was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual 18-month suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation, and he was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect March 4, 2011.

Tishgart stipulated that in a single matter, he misappropriated client funds through gross negligence, committing an act of moral turpitude, and he unilaterally paid himself fees, violating a court order.

In a personal injury case, he was hired to obtain reimbursement for nursing services for a minor. There was no fee agreement and he settled the matter for $100,000. The court ordered that Tishgart receive fees of $20,743, but he believed he also was entitled to a portion of an award to the minor’s mother and paid himself $4,805. He did not obtain the mother’s consent or notify her he was taking the fee. After she disputed the fee, he refunded the money to the mother.

Tishgart was publicly reproved in 1992 and last year, he was suspended after the bar court found he committed misconduct in two personal injury cases; he failed to perform legal services competently or adequately supervise a contract attorney. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and took steps to demonstrate his remorse.

JOHN A. HURLEY [#145907], 56, of Anaheim was suspended for four years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with a three-year actual suspension and until he makes restitution, pays sanctions and proves his rehabilitation, and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He received credit for a period of inactive enrollment that began April 23, 2008. The order took effect March 11, 2011.

Hurley successfully completed the Alternative Discipline Program after demonstrating a connection between his mental health issues and his misconduct. He stipulated to 55 acts of misconduct in 16 matters, including: failures to promptly refund unearned fees, perform legal services competently, account for client funds, return client files, respond to client inquiries, pursue only just cases, report sanctions and a malpractice judgment to the State Bar or cooperate with the bar’s investigation, and he abandoned seven clients, disobeyed court orders and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

One client won a $25,000 malpractice judgment against Hurley by default as a result of his failures to perform competently in her child custody case. He made three payments before halting additional payments, and the court ordered several civil bench warrants against him for missing hearings. When questioned by the State Bar about the malpractice judgment, he claimed he had reported it but in fact he did not.

Another client paid $27,500 in advance fees for Hurley to handle one criminal and three civil matters. He did not serve the defendants, appear at seven hearings or case management conferences, notify his client about court dates, keep records of client funds or pay court-ordered sanctions.

Hurley was disciplined four times previously; two private reprovals, one public reproval and a 2003 suspension. He owes $48,255 to 13 clients and he must pay sanctions totaling $8,150.

BRUCE GORDON JONES [#43448], 70, of Oxnard was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect March 11, 2011.

Jones stipulated to six counts of misconduct in two matters. In the first, he was hired in 2001 to eliminate or modify support payments to his client’s ex-wife due to changed circumstances. He worked on the case for about 10 months and although he did nothing further, he continued to send monthly billing statements to the client for the next four years. Unaware that Jones was no longer working on his matter, the client sent him new information about his ex-wife who, although she spent most of her time out of the country, was scheduled for a court appearance. The client explained it was important to act quickly so the former wife could be served with the modification order before she left the country again.

Jones did nothing and the client lost his opportunity to obtain a reduction in support payments. Jones did not return the client’s many phone calls or refund nearly $1,000 in unearned fees.

Another client paid Jones an advance $7,500 fee to complete her divorce and he represented her through trial. However, he never completed the final judgment and for two years, did not contact his client. She hired a new lawyer, but Jones did not sign a substitution form or return the file.

He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, respond to a client’s status requests, refund an unearned fee or return a client file, and he disobeyed a court order.

Jones was publicly reproved in 1992 for misdemeanor dissuading a witness from prosecuting a crime. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.

STEVEN LANCE MAZZA [#101076], 54, of Beverly Hills was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with an actual 90-day suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within one year and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect March 11, 2011.

Mazza stipulated to 17 counts of misconduct in six matters, including misappropriating funds from clients who were forced to pay their medical bills. Some had gone to collection and the clients had to pay interest as well.

He did not comply with probation conditions attached to a 2004 discipline imposed for charging an unconscionable fee and failing to account for client funds, and he practiced law while suspended for non-payment of bar dues in 2005.

In a personal injury case, he did not pay one of his client’s doctors for four years, didn’t pay another at all and didn’t pay the hospital for five years. He also failed to disburse more than $10,000 in settlement funds to his client for six years, and stipulated that he misappropriated that amount, committing an act of moral turpitude.

His misconduct was similar in another personal injury case when he did not pay his client’s doctor and did not disburse $10,000 in settlement funds to the client for more than four years. He stipulated that he misappropriated that amount, committing an act of moral turpitude.

In addition, Mazza admitted he failed to respond promptly to his clients’ status inquiries, perform legal services competently, update his contact information with the bar or cooperate with its investigation.

In addition to the 2004 discipline, Mazza was suspended and placed on probation last year after he successfully completed the Alternative Discipline Program and stipulated to 63 counts of misconduct in 18 consolidated matters. In mitigation, he experienced significant personal and family problems that caused extreme emotional and mental problems and severely affected his legal practice. He addressed his problems through the ADP. He also made restitution to his clients and their doctors.

JAMES GERHART PRICE [#119324], 54, of Brentwood was suspended for one year, stayed, and placed on one year of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect March 11, 2011.

Price stipulated to three counts of misconduct in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy matter he filed for a client. He sent another attorney to a creditors meeting without his client’s authorization and he didn’t inform the client of another meeting that he didn’t attend. Instead, he appeared in court for another client.

The client, however, learned about the meeting and attended on her own, telling the court she had sold her home. The court then confirmed her bankruptcy plan without Price’s knowledge. Based on his assumption of what he thought would happen at the hearing he missed, Price then notified the client her case was dismissed and advised that she could re-file or put her house on the market.

Price, who is also a licensed real estate broker, solicited his client five times to utilize his broker’s services. He did not discuss his potential conflict of interest with the client.

He stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently, keep his client informed of significant developments in her case and he violated his duty of loyalty to the client.

Price was publicly reproved in 2007. In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.

ROBERT FRANK ZWIERLEIN [#138485], 48, of Mission Viejo was suspended for 12 months, stayed, placed on probation for 24 months and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect March 11, 2011.

Zwierlein stipulated to five counts of misconduct in two matters.

An appeal of a summary judgment order was dismissed and reinstated twice because Zwierlein didn’t file requisite documents on time and he was sanctioned $1,000 by the appellate court. He neither reported the sanction nor paid it.

In the second matter, he filed a personal injury complaint for two clients but did not notify them of numerous efforts to compel their discovery or of a $1,000 sanction order. The case was dismissed.

Zwierlein stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently or keep clients apprised of developments in their case and he disobeyed a court order.

In mitigation, he had no prior discipline record, cooperated with the bar’s investigation and he has serious health problems.

CLIFFORD ALEXANDER DOVER [#169838], 54, of San Diego was suspended for two years, stayed, and was placed on probation for three years with a one-year actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within a year and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect March 20, 2011.

Dover stipulated to two counts of misconduct in a discrimination matter he filed on behalf of a woman and her two daughters, including misappropriating $7,000, an act of moral turpitude.

In addition to the women, Dover represented a foundation, also a plaintiff, as a contract attorney. The court dismissed the action because it did not state a claim and entered judgment in favor of the defendants. Dover appealed and then settled for $25,000. Although the women approved the settlement, the foundation didn’t know about it, and Dover asked the defendants to issue the settlement check to him and the mother only.

He paid the woman $18,000 as settlement of her and her daughters’ claims, but told the foundation the deadline for filing an opening brief for the appeal was extended and later asked for a 60-day extension. In fact, the appeal was dismissed.

The foundation served notice of Dover’s termination, but he resigned and asked the foundation to allow him to continue the appeal, knowing all the while it had been dismissed and he had misappropriated $7,000 from the settlement money. He made a series of misrepresentations to the foundation.

In mitigation, Dover had no prior discipline record, he suffered from work-related stress and depression and he presented evidence of his good character.

ERIC ARTHUR FORSTROM [#237695], 35, of Huntington Beach was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a one-year actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He received credit for an interim suspension that began Sept. 29, 2009. The order took effect March 20, 2011.

Forstrom was convicted of felony insurance fraud in 2009, although the court later reduced the charge to a misdemeanor. Following an automobile accident, he abandoned his car and reported it stolen. The police did not take a stolen auto report at the time because they knew the car was involved in a hit-and-run and had been impounded. The same day, Forstrom reported the car stolen to his insurance company, claiming he hadn’t seen the car since the evening before the accident. He gave the claims representative a notarized theft affidavit and even when she told him there were witnesses and he had collision coverage, he pressed for a theft claim.

He withdrew the theft claim a couple of months later, but was charged criminally with filing and writing a fraudulent insurance claim, and making a misleading oral statement. He pleaded guilty to making a false insurance statement and was ordered to complete 250 hours of community service and enroll in the Mothers Against Drunk Driving program. Because he successfully completed his sentence, the conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor. He reported himself to the State Bar.

In mitigation, Forstrom has no prior discipline record, cooperated with the bar’s investigation, reported the conviction to the bar, and he presented evidence of his good character.

MANSOUR SIG HADDAD [#172061], 45, of San Luis Obispo was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with a six-month actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect March 20, 2011.

Haddad stipulated that he committed 10 acts of misconduct for five convictions involving alcohol abuse. He was twice convicted of misdemeanor public intoxication, two misdemeanor DUIs and one misdemeanor driving with a blood alcohol content of more than .08 percent with priors.

In mitigation, he has no prior discipline record.

Haddad also was convicted earlier this year of elder abuse, a matter that is pending before the State Bar Court.

KEVIN MICHAEL HARR [#149572], 45, of Santa Monica was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect March 20, 2011.

Harr stipulated that he wrote a check against insufficient funds in his client trust account, failed to properly manage his trust account and did not cooperate with a State Bar investigation. At the time he wrote the check, for a $320 filing fee in a divorce matter, he believed there was enough money in the account to cover the fee. Instead, the balance was three cents.

By the time he learned about the bounced check, his client’s wife had filed for divorce. The client decided to apply his attorney fees to other matters so Harr made no effort to make the check good and allowed the court to cancel the dissolution filing. The client eventually obtained a divorce.

In another matter, he wrote a $20 check for filing fees when there was enough money in his account to cover it. However, he then withdrew funds exceeding what should have been the balance and the check was not honored. When he realized his mistake, he deposited $20 in his account to cover the check which was later honored.

In mitigation, Harr had no prior discipline record, no clients were harmed and he cooperated with the bar’s investigation.

BRIAN D. McMAHON [#147662], 54, of Hawthorne was suspended for three years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a two-year actual suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect March 20, 2011.

McMahon stipulated to 10 counts of misconduct in three matters, including misappropriating more than $18,000 from three clients.

In one matter, he wrote checks against insufficient funds in his client trust account, commingled funds, used the trust account to pay personal expenses and persuaded a client to deposit more than $57,000 in settlement funds in his trust account. Although he made various payments on behalf of the client, he allowed the balance in the account to fall below the required amount and stipulated that he misappropriated $6,300 from her.

He received a $14,000 settlement for another client who was entitled to $8,400. However, the balance fell to a negative amount, and McMahon admitted he misappropriated $8,400.

In another matter, he received more than $50,000 as settlement of a minor’s personal injury matter. Although he paid the family $30,000, he did not reimburse an insurer $5,300 that had been paid for the child’s medical care. McMahon negotiated a lesser amount that he paid after the child’s father complained to the bar. He stipulated that he allowed the balance in his trust account to fall below the required amount and misappropriated $3,791.

McMahon substituted into an unlawful detainer matter without filing a substitution, and although he met the client at the courthouse just before the trial was to start, he left without notice to the court. The client told the judge McMahon reeked of alcohol and that he had fired him.

McMahon missed subsequent hearings and disobeyed a court order to submit evidence of his attendance at an alcohol treatment program. He stipulated that he abandoned his client, disobeyed a court order and failed to perform legal services competently.

In mitigation, he had no prior discipline record, made partial restitution to one client and has undergone treatment for alcoholism.

RIC A. MILITELLO [#193675], 40, of San Diego was suspended for one year, stayed, actually suspended for six months and until the State Bar Court terminates the suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. If the actual suspension exceeds two years, he must prove his rehabilitation. The order took effect March 20, 2011.

In a default proceeding, the bar court found that Militello committed three acts of misconduct. He failed to update his address with the bar, commingled funds in his trust account and made electronic payments against insufficient funds. He repeatedly used his account for non-client related purposes ― he paid his rent, vet bills and made Verizon payments from the account. Two payments were made against insufficient funds.

In mitigation, he had no prior discipline record.

JOHN MOLINA [#218637], 37 of Corona was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect March 20, 2011.

Molina stipulated to two counts of misconduct in a real estate loan matter for which they paid a flat fee of $1,500. He communicated with the lender but after a few months told the clients they had to pay him an additional $1,500. They agreed but only if Molina showed them the letter he planned to send the lender.

When he did not respond to their phone calls, they complained to the bar. He offered to refund $1,000 if they would halt the bar’s investigation. They agreed, he sent them the letter and gave them $1,000.

He stipulated that he didn’t respond to his clients’ reasonable status inquiries and he improperly asked his clients to withdraw a disciplinary complaint in exchange for payment.

BRETT A. PEDERSEN [#146341], 51, of Monte Rio was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation with a nine-month actual suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within a year and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect March 20, 2011.

The State Bar Court found that Pedersen committed acts of moral turpitude and tried to mislead a judge in a breach of contract matter that began as a $483 billing dispute and escalated into a $7,500 lawsuit in which Pedersen sued his client for fees and costs. Pedersen withdrew from the case a year after he was hired and billed the client $483 for fees and costs. When she refused to pay, he sued her for $7,500.

Pedersen refused to talk to the client’s lawyer and said he would only respond by either accepting or rejecting a written offer of settlement.  The client offered to settle for $1,000; Pedersen accepted if she would include $500 in costs. Although Pedersen says he specifically asked for $1,500, the client’s lawyer said the extra $500 was an unspecific, ballpark figure. The client sent Pedersen two checks, for $1,000 and for $483, “representing the billed costs.” Her attorney authorized Pedersen to cash the checks after providing a request for dismissal of his lawsuit and either his social security number or federal tax identification number.

Pedersen cashed the checks and then tried to negotiate for more money believing he was entitled to costs for the original breach of contract matter but also for the subsequent lawsuit. He filed a motion for attorney’s fees of $2,337 from his lawsuit for unpaid fees and asked that that amount be added to the earlier judgment.

The client’s lawyer asked Pedersen to withdraw the motion for attorney’s fees, to file a motion to set aside the judgment and to file a request for dismissal pursuant to the settlement agreement. Instead, Pedersen sent a check for $1,483, which the other lawyer returned.

Eventually, the court dismissed the motion for attorney’s fees and Pedersen asked to have the judgment set aside and the case dismissed.

Calling the whole affair an “unwarranted saga,” State Bar Court Judge Pat McElroy wrote, “This disciplinary matter demonstrates how an attorney, like respondent Brett Alexander Pedersen, could easily tarnish public confidence in the legal profession and degrade the high professional standards maintained by attorneys.” She noted that he was disciplined in 2009 for similar misconduct and criticized him for continuing to assert, “despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary,” that he was entitled to cash the checks and proceed with his lawsuit.

McElroy said Pedersen’s lawsuit for $7,494 “was completely out of proportion to a simple $483 billing dispute. To further aggravate the situation, when the client offered to pay $1,000 above and beyond the amount of the billing dispute, (Pedersen) demanded that the settlement be $1,500, and not $1,483 ― a $17 difference.” He then made misrepresentations to the court about the terms of the settlement and sought additional attorney fees.

IVAN PEDRO C. PORTO [#129629], 56, of San Diego was suspended for one year, placed on two years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE. The order took effect March 20, 2011.

Porto stipulated to two counts of misconduct in two matters.

While handling an asylum application for a client, he did not provide her new contact information to the court. Because she speaks Portuguese, she did not understand what happened at a hearing, despite her presence. Porto did not tell her the judge set a deadline for her to provide her fingerprints to the Department of Homeland Security. She was ordered removed from the U.S. after the court said she abandoned her application. Porto did not notify the client about the removal order.

Porto moved his office and lost two boxes of files. He told the client he didn’t inform her about the removal order because he didn’t know how to reach her. He filed a notice to reopen her matter, but didn’t tell her it would be based on ineffective counsel. His motions were rejected as untimely and deficient. More than a year later, Porto told the client her appeals were denied but still did not tell her about the removal order.

He failed to appear at two hearings and an in-chambers conference while representing a criminal defendant. When he appeared at a later hearing and conference, he told the judge he didn’t represent the defendant. He never became the attorney of record.

Porto stipulated that he failed to perform legal services competently in both matters.

In mitigation, he has no discipline record in 23 years of practice and he cooperated with the 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.