Saturday, September 15, 2012

Attorney Gets Bar Boot For Ripping Off $80K In Client Funds From Family Trust

From the California Bar Journal (August 2012):

  • Luann Marie Kelley [#131841], 61, of San Diego was disbarred June 16, 2012, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

    Kelley stipulated that she failed to account for client funds and misappropriated thousands of dollars from a family trust. Kelley represented the trustee, who transferred $80,000 of trust assets to Kelley, who in turn deposited the money in her client trust account. The balance the account dropped to $3,950.75 and later to zero.

    Although Kelley believes she is entitled to $27,123 of the $80,000 for attorney fees and costs, she did not obtain a required order concerning fees and costs from the probate court. The court ordered her to refund $80,000 to the trust, along with an additional $115,752.98 in damages, by May 13, 2010. Kelley contends the issue of her claim to attorney fees and costs remains open with the probate court.

    In mitigation, she had no prior discipline record, provided evidence of her good character, suffered from depression and cooperated with the bar’s investigation.

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