Thursday, September 15, 2005
District Attorney Charges Lawyers With Conspiring to Violate Rule Against Unauthorized Practice
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An attorney and a former attorney have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to violate the prohibition against practice of law by non-lawyers, among other crimes, the District Attorney’s Office said yesterday.
Charged in an 18-count criminal complaint were Bryan Daniel Kamenetz, 34, and Steven Unger, 46. The two are charged with attempting to cover up the fact that Unger was continuing to practice after resigning with disciplinary charges pending in 2002.
State Bar records show that Kamenetz received a one-year suspension, effective in April of this year, on multiple counts of misconduct, some of which relate to his assisting Unger in practicing after his resignation.
The prosecution is apparently unique, Deputy District Attorney Edward A. Miller said in a statement, in its use of the conspiracy statute and in the fact that Unger is being charged with a felony violation of the standard state Supreme Court order that he notify his clients of his resignation within 60 days of its being accepted by the high court.
The two were arrested by district attorney investigators without incident on Tuesday morning at their respective homes in the Hollywood Hills and Altadena, the District Attorney’s Office said.
Unger is named as a defendant in all 18 counts of the complaint. Kamenetz is named in 15 counts.
Other charges against the defendants include theft from an elder or dependent adult, grand theft of personal property, forgery, non-sufficient fund check, the unauthorized practice of law and grand theft by embezzlement.
The complaint alleges that clients were notified in writing that “the firm of Law Offices of Steven H. Unger has been changed, but the support staff will remain the same,” and that “[t]he firm is now Law Offices of Bryan Kamenetz,” but that Unger continued to represent at least five of the office’s clients.
Unger, a graduate of Whittier College School of Law, was admitted to practice in 1985 and had been disciplined twice prior to the filing of the charges that led to his resignation. Kamenetz, a graduate of UCLA School of Law, was admitted in 2000.
In his disciplinary proceedings, Kamenetz stipulated to 19 counts of misconduct in five cases, including an admission that he allowed Unger to be an authorized signer on both his client trust account and his business account after Unger resigned. Kamenetz also stipulated that he wrote checks against insufficient funds in the trust account and that he received settlements from cases Unger had worked on before resigning and did not disburse them to the clients.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company