Sunday, May 28, 2017

Long-Time Lawyer Ends 40-Year Career By Getting Bar Boot For Glomming Onto $100K Of Client Funds From Attorney Trust Account

In Los Angeles, California, the Northern California Record reports:
  • The State Bar Court of California recently disbarred Ronald Lee Bartholomew, a Newport Beach attorney, after finding him guilty of misappropriating client escrow funds.

    The order was handed down on March 1, and the charges stem from a client matter in 2013.

    On May 29, 2013, the two owners of Skyset Investments L.L.C. entered into a financial agreement with Metro Global Corporation. The next day, Bartholomew agreed to act as the escrow agent for the deal. On May 31, 2013, $70,000 was deposited into the attorney’s client trust account with Chase Bank and an additional $30,000 was deposited in June. Both transactions were made by Skyset.

    Bartholomew began making withdrawals from the account almost immediately after the funds were deposited. The attorney also made disbursements of the escrow funds, though he was not instructed to do so by Skyset. This continued until June 28, 2013 when the account balance was just over $100. As a result, multiple requests were made by Skyset and those acting on behalf of the company to be reimbursed the $100,000.

    The California State Bar sent a notice of disciplinary charges to Bartholomew on April 20, 2015 requesting a response to the allegations. The attorney replied, stating that no such funds had ever been deposited into his trust account. At the time of disbarment, the attorney still has not refunded the $100,000.(1)

    Bartholomew entered into a pretrial stipulation, but because he had committed multiple acts of misconduct and failed to make restitution, the State Bar Court of California issued an order for disbarment.

    The Orange County attorney is a graduate of Western State University’s law program and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1971. Through his over 40-year career, Bartholomew had only one prior instance of discipline, a public reproval in 2014.
Source: Newport Beach attorney disbarred for misappropriating escrow funds.
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(1) The California State Bar's Client Security Fund is a discretionary fund that can reimburse clients who have lost money or property due to theft or dishonesty by a California lawyer. It is a State Bar program funded entirely by California lawyers. The amount the fund may reimburse for theft committed by a California lawyer depends on when the loss occurred. A maximum of $50,000 is reimbursable if the loss occurred before January 1, 2009. A maximum of $100,000 is reimbursable if the loss occurred on or after January 1, 2009.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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