Thursday, October 15, 2009
Arcadia Attorney Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Embezzlement
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An Arcadia attorney has pled not guilty to two counts of grand theft by embezzlement.
Ronald N. Gottschalk, 66, of Gottschalk & Associates, entered his plea on Tuesday and was ordered to return Oct. 26 for a preliminary hearing at Foltz Criminal Justice Center, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office said.
Bail was set at $556,000, and had not been posted as of yesterday, according to Sheriff’s Department records showing that he is at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles.
Messages left at the phone number listed on the State Bar website for Gottschalk were not returned.
Gottschalk was charged in a felony complaint for arrest warrant on Sept. 23 in case No. BA361996 for allegedly misappropriating over $350,000 in client funds from 10 victims.
He is accused of pocketing $240,000 from settlement proceeds belonging to nine victims he represented in a civil lawsuit in 2007 and stealing approximately $118,000 from another client who had hired him to manage the estate of a deceased relative in 2005.
State Bar disciplinary proceedings are also pending against the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School graduate. A Notice of Disciplinary Charges was filed last November, detailing 19 counts of misconduct in five separate cases, including the two forming the basis of the criminal charges.
In addition to a variety of alleged client trust account violations, the notice asserts that Gottschalk filed meritless or harassing claims and presented unwarranted claims or defenses, disrespected a trial court, sought to mislead a trial court judge on two occasions, charged an unconscionable fee, failed to release client files, engaged in multiple acts of moral turpitude and lied to State Bar investigators.
Gottschalk denied culpability to all of the charges in his response, asserting defenses based on his constitutional rights, the attorney-client privilege, res judicata and collateral estoppel, among others. He further contended that the charges were false and lacked a sufficient factual basis.
The attorney has no other record of discipline since he was admitted to the State Bar in 1972.
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