Thursday, March 5, 2009
Ex-Long Beach Attorney Arraigned on Embezzlement Charges
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
A former Long Beach attorney was arraigned yesterday on charges of stealing over $400,000 from his clients, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has announced.
Stephan Zachary Cutler, 61, entered a plea of not guilty and is due back for a preliminary hearing setting on March 16 in Dept. 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, the office said.
The California Supreme Court ordered Cutler disbarred in 2006.
Deputy District Attorney Sean Hassett of the Justice System Integrity Division said Cutler was arrested Monday night by the office’s investigators and charged with 14 counts of grand theft by embezzlement in two cases.
In the first, Cutler is accused of misappropriating nearly $383,000 from one client and his heirs between June 2003 and August 2004. The alleged theft was not discovered until March 2008 when an investigator of the District Attorney’s Office gained access to Cutler’s bank records pursuant to a search warrant.
Cutler is also charged which stealing more than $60,000 from another client and his heirs between May 2001 and May 2007 in the second criminal case.
If convicted, Cutler faces a maximum state prison term of six years in the first case, and a maximum sentence of six years and eight months in the second case.
The recommended bail amount is $439,000.
Before his disbarment, Cutler practiced with Cutler Legal Associates Inc. in Long Beach. He was ordered disbarred after defaulting on two consolidated State Bar Court proceedings charging him with various client trust account violations, failing to perform legal services competently and failing to return unearned fees.
In 1992 Cutler was called before the State Bar on charges of failing to have returned unearned fees as well. He stipulated to a three year stayed suspension.
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