Thursday, September 23, 2010
Lawyer Faces Disbarment for Misconduct, State Bar Says
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Orange County attorney Brian Colombana, who handled dozens of foreclosure cases, has admitted extensive misconduct that will lead to his disbarment, the State Bar of California said yesterday.
Colombana, who was placed on involuntary inactive status in June, stipulated last week that he committed nine acts of misconduct in 12 matters, the group said.
He becomes the fifth attorney to agree to disbarment in the wake of complaints by homeowners who paid fees to lawyers the State Bar says did little or nothing to help them.
“The State Bar continues to be vigilant in prosecuting attorneys who have taken advantage of homeowners when they are at their most vulnerable,” Bill Hebert, chair of the board of governors’ discipline committee, said. “The conduct of these lawyers, who make promises they can’t keep and take money their clients can ill afford to pay, is deplorable and we will continue our efforts to protect the public from such behavior.”
Attorneys for the State Bar’s Loan Modification Task Force, which created in April 2009, have obtained five disbarments and 12 resignations of attorneys involved in loan modification misconduct. Six trials are pending and another 1,800 active investigations related to loan modification are underway. More than 4,000 complaints have come through the task force since it was formed.
According to the State Bar, Colombana, who practiced in Laguna Hills, accepted nearly $36,000 in fees from 12 distressed homeowners, but did not obtain a single loan modification. Eight of the clients live in states where Colombana is not licensed to practice, and he admitted to engaging “in a scheme to defraud these clients, by exploiting them for personal gain and accepting employment where he was not licensed to practice law.”
Two of Colombana’s clients lost their homes to foreclosure, one had to sell his home at a loss and another cashed in insurance policies to bring the mortgage current and avoid foreclosure.
Colombana, 29, affiliated with several loan modification companies, including Loan Negotiators of America, Housing Law Center and Mortgage Relief Law Center. In most cases, he never met his clients.
His associates, however, advised them to stop making their mortgage payments. When State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn ordered Colombana to stop practicing in June, he said many homeowners were current but then fell behind as a result of that advice. Many “were worse off after retaining [Colombana’s] services,” Honn said.
The State Bar filed disciplinary charges against Colombana in July, but he denied the allegations in a response that was amended Sept. 1
However, the group said yesterday that Colombana, in agreeing to disbarment, admitted that his misconduct “resulted in significant harm to multiple clients [and]…constituted a pattern of willfully failing to perform and a habitual disregard for…clients’ interests.”
Colombana joined the State Bar in 2005 after graduating from the University of Washington and Southwestern School of Law. The State Bar’s website shows no prior history of public discipline against him. He did not respond to a call seeking comment.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company