Wednesday, September 11, 2002
October Trial Set for Lawyer Birenbaum, Accused of Theft From Clients
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An Oct. 15 trial date was set yesterday for Malibu attorney Sam Birenbaum, who is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from clients.
Birenbaum, 53, has been free on bail since shortly after his arrest a year ago on grand theft charges.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office alleges that he stole approximately $127,000 from a North Hollywood couple and from a client in Sweden.
Birenbaum retained an active practice until June when the State Bar of California, which assisted the district attorney in the criminal investigation, ordered him on inactive status.
The State Bar has charged Birenbaum with stealing about $500,000 from clients and placed him on a “fast-track” discipline system.
In one case, according to State Bar reports, Birenbaum is accused of placing a client’s $100,000 divorce settlement in his client trust account against the client’s instructions to put it in a brokerage account. Birenbaum is alleged to have spent half the money to pay off other clients and kept the other half for himself.
Birenbaum has been active in Malibu city politics and twice ran for the City Council, including one attempt as a write-in candidate.
The prosecutor in the case is Deputy District Attorney William Penzin of the Justice System Integrity Division, which probes and prosecutes alleged criminal misconduct by lawyers, judges and law enforcement officers.
Penzin said he expected trial would get under way by early November at the latest, but he added that he would discuss a disposition with Birenbaum if the money is returned by the trial date.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company