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May 2024

| May 1, 2024

Discipline Report

May 1, 2024

May 2024

Recent attorney disbarments, suspensions, probations and public reprovals in California.


James Joseph Albert

State Bar #150568, Bainbridge Island, Washington (March 29, 2024)

Albert was disbarred by default. Although he initially filed a response to the notice of disciplinary charges against him, he failed to appear at the related trial, and a default order was entered in the case. Albert did not move to have the order set aside or vacated.

Upon entry of the default, the factual allegations in the charges were admitted, and the State Bar Court found those allegations supported the conclusion that Albert was culpable of four of the five counts charged.

His wrongdoing, which related to a single client matter, included failing to promptly render an accounting of client funds, failing to return unearned advanced fees, and two counts of failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the misconduct alleged.

At the time Albert was disbarred, there were eight other disciplinary investigations pending against him.

Nathan D. LaMoure

State Bar #45478, Newport Beach (March 22, 2024)

LaMoure was disbarred by default after he failed to participate in his disciplinary proceeding, despite having adequate notice and opportunity to do so. The State Bar Court determined that all procedural requirements had been satisfied in handling the matter, and that LaMoure did not act to have the default order ultimately entered against him set aside or vacated.

He was found culpable of seven of the nine counts of misconduct with which he was charged--all related to a single client case. His wrongdoing included failing to obey a court order and failing to cooperate in the disciplinary investigation of the alleged wrongdoing, and seeking to mislead a judge. An additional four counts involved moral turpitude: engaging in a scheme to defraud a creditor, conspiring with another person to wrongfully foreclose on a property, offering several fraudulent documents into evidence, and making a material misrepresentation under penalty of perjury.

William David Turley

State Bar #122408, San Diego (March 22, 2024)

Turley was disbarred.

He had earlier stipulated to pleading guilty to one felony count of persuading or coercing an adult to travel to engage in prostitution (18 U.S.C. § 2422(a)), as well as a criminal forfeiture charge (18 U.S.C. § 1594(d)).

The State Bar determined that the facts and circumstances surrounding the violations involved moral turpitude.

In the underlying matter, Turley contacted an adult female through a website; they exchanged phone numbers and then continued communicating on their cellphones. The two of them discussed entering a "mutually beneficial relationship" involving sex for money. Turley then traveled from his California home to Las Vegas, Nevada--and also arranged for the woman to travel from California to Las Vegas--paying for her flight and travel expenses. After they met there, he bought her some sunglasses and food. The two then engaged in sex, and he paid the woman approximately $1,800 in cash.

In another incident, Turley again used the website to contact another woman. She told him she was 18, though she was actually 16; he told her he was 53 years old and single, when in fact he was 59 and married. The two arranged to meet at a library across the street from the high school the young woman attended. After she told Turley that she was "grounded" because of poor grades and that her parents had taken away her cellphone, he drove to a nearby store and bought her one. They then drove to a residential area and parked. She performed oral sex on him, and he then paid her $300.

In aggravation, Turley committed multiple acts of misconduct.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation, had practiced law discipline-free for approximately 32 years, and provided letters from 23 individuals taken from a range in the legal and general communities--all of whom attested to his good character. In addition, he sought and received therapy, both before and after being incarcerated for his criminal behavior.


Peter Matthew Depew

State Bar #294298, San Luis Obispo (March 22, 2024)

Depew was suspended from practicing law for 30 days and placed on probation for two years after he stipulated to committing two acts of professional misconduct: making 13 court appearances on behalf of clients while administratively suspended for failure to comply with Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements and failing to cooperate in the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged.

In aggravation, Depew committed multiple acts of misconduct.

In mitigation, he entered into a prefiling stipulation, and submitted evidence of performing community service, as well as eight letters of support from individuals taken from a range in the legal and general communities. He was also allotted moderate weight for having practiced law discipline-free for nearly nine years before committing the misconduct in the instant case.

Fernando Leone

State Bar #147933, Orange (March 22, 2024)

Leone was suspended from the practice of law for six months and placed on probation for three years after he was found culpable of committing three counts of professional misconduct related to his client trust account. He was found culpable of failing to maintain client funds in trust, failing to maintain records of the account and misappropriating client funds--wrongdoing involving moral turpitude.

Leone received a settlement check for $38,000 in the course of handling a client's personal injury case. He deposited the check into his client trust account, and issued a disbursement sheet to the client that provided for apportioning the funds; she was to receive $12,108 in net proceeds. He issued her a check in that amount, but she didn't negotiate it for five months--when it was returned for insufficient funds.

During the relevant period, Leone had not maintained proper accounting records, written ledgers, or a written account journal for the account. The transgression in the instant case occurred when Leone mistakenly believed all funds pertaining to the client had cleared, and he failed to maintain the required balance in the trust account. He promptly explained his mistaken belief to the client, which resulted in the returned check, and she agreed to come by the office some time later to retrieve a replacement check.

In aggravation, Leone had a prior record of discipline, which also involved misappropriation, that dated back nearly 30 years.

In mitigation, he did not cause harm to the client, suffered emotional and physical difficulties during the time of the misconduct, demonstrated candor with the State Bar during its disciplinary investigation, and demonstrated remorse by taking prompt action to right his wrong. In addition, he was allotted limited mitigating weight for evidence of performing pro bono and community service work--the weight of that decreased because the evidence lacked specificity as to type and time spent.

Amy Conner Narayan

State Bar #183370, Durham, North Carolina (March 22, 2024)

Narayan was suspended from practicing law for four years and placed on probation for five years after she stipulated to being convicted of seven separate driving offenses--including seven felonies and six misdemeanors.

All the offenses involved various counts of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as child endangerment (Cal. Penal Code § 273a(a)) for driving while intoxicated with her young son as a passenger in the car.

The State Bar Court determined that the offenses involved moral turpitude. It noted that the convictions for DUI, child endangerment, driving on a suspended license, and being involved in a hit and run "show a pattern of misconduct that demonstrates a deficiency in character, a habitual disregard for the rights and safety of others, and displays a flagrant disregard for the laws and social norms."

In aggravation, Narayan committed multiple acts of wrongdoing, and demonstrated an inability to appreciate the seriousness of her misconduct.

In mitigation, she entered into a mid-trial stipulation, suffered severe family problems due to her husband's criminal conviction and her own depression and anxiety, and received moderate mitigating weight for receiving education and treatment for a substance abuse condition--hers still in the early stages of recovery. She also received moderate weight for evidence from eight witnesses who attested to her engagement in charitable and volunteer work--and limited weight for those same witnesses who attested to her good character, as they were all friends and associates, and none of them were taken from the legal community.

Terry Lee Wike

State Bar #201289, Las Vegas, Nevada (March 22, 2024)

Wike was suspended for six months and placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to committing professional misconduct in another jurisdiction, in which he was disciplined.

The State Bar Court determined that the disciplinary proceeding in the other jurisdiction provided fundamental constitutional protection, and that the culpability determined there also warranted imposing discipline in California.

Wike was also admitted to practice law in Nevada, where he was found to have made numerous transfers of client funds from his trust account to his personal and operating accounts, causing the trust account balance to dip to an impermissibly low level, and as a result, he failed to promptly disburse funds to clients and medical lienholders. He also paid one client from the account with funds belonging to a second client, and commingled the funds by failing withdraw his earned funds from the account in a timely manner.

In aggravation, Wike committed multiple acts of wrongdoing.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation, had practiced law without a record of discipline for approximately 16 years, and fully cooperated with the State Bar's investigation of the wrongdoing alleged in the case.


Christopher Robert Martens

State Bar #235777, Bakersfield (March 22, 2024)

Martens was placed on probation for one year after he stipulated to committing two acts of professional misconduct: failing to promptly refund an advanced fee after terminating representation and failing to promptly provide an accounting of client funds. The wrongdoing related to two separate client matters.

In one case, Martens was retained to represent a client in a criminal matter--agreeing to payment terms of $9,000 with an initial $1,000 deposit plus an additional $500 per month. However, before the trial began, the district attorney intervened to inform Martens and the client that Martens had a conflict of interest in the case because he had previously represented one of the client's accusers. Martens then terminated representation, agreeing to pay back $4,500 in unearned fees. The initial $2,000 check he tendered was returned for nonsufficient funds. Martens made several unfulfilled promises to pay the unearned fee and ignored several queries from the client about the matter. He paid about one year after representation had been terminated.

In the other matter, Martens was retained to represent a client, who appointed his sister to be the contact in the case. He received $7,944 as advanced fees. The sister requested an accounting of the fees paid before eventually terminating his representation. Martens eventually provided an itemized billing--more than three years after the initial request.

In aggravation, Martens committed multiple acts of wrongdoing.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation, had practiced law discipline-free for more than 15 years, and was allotted limited mitigating weight for character letters written by five individuals--none of whom seemed to understand the full extent of his misconduct.

--Barbara Kate Repa


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