Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Lawyer Placed on Involuntary Inactive Status in Misappropriation Probe
By ALLISON LOMAS, Staf Writer
An Anaheim attorney cannot practice law until the State Bar Court disposes of charges he wrote close to 30 bad checks and misappropriated client funds over a four-year period, a State Bar attorney said yesterday.
Hearing Judge Robert M. Talcott placed Dale John Peroutka on involuntary inactive status, effective Nov. 7, Deputy Trial Counsel Kevin B. Taylor told the MetNews.
Peroutka is already serving a six-month suspension on related charges, Taylor explained. Taylor said he requested the sole practitioner be placed on inactive enrollment to ensure that he could not continue to engage in dubious accounting practices after his current suspension has expired.
Peroutka, who yesterday attributed his problems to “plain negligence,” oversights, and poor bookkeeping, has been under suspension since Oct. 27. State Bar Court Judge Paul A. Bacigalupo found that he had allowed a client trust account to fall to $152.67 when he was required to maintain over $6,000 in the account.
“Peroutka’s gross negligence in managing his trust account resulted in the misappropriation of $6,200,” the judge said
Bacigalupo concluded there were significant mitigating factors, including Peroutka’s nearly 20-year “blemish-free practice,” the former deputy sheriff’s candor during the proceedings, and efforts to avoid reoccurrence of the misconduct.
However, the judge also found that the lawyer “demonstrated indifference toward rectification of or atonement for the consequences of his misconduct.”
Taylor disputed Peroutka’s claim that the prior incident of mismanagement was aberrational. He also said he would seek Peroutka’s disbarment for drawing 29 bad checks on client trust accounts since May 1998 and misappropriating client funds totaling $6,691 as recently as this spring.
Peroutka said yesterday that he does not believe that he will be disbarred, because the charges are administrative in nature.
In other disciplinary actions, two attorneys from northern California have tendered their resignations with charges pending. One was on suspension and the other on involuntary inactive status, Deputy Trial Counsel Esther Rogers said.
James Creighton Harvey submitted his resignation last month after being charged in Placer County with embezzlement or theft from an elderly adult, grand theft of personal property, embezzlement and forgery, Rogers said.
Formal charges were never filed in the State Bar Court due to the resignation.
Harvey was placed on involuntary inactive status pending acceptance of his resignation by the state Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has accepted San Jose lawyer Milton Dean Lathan’s resignation effective next week.
Lathan tendered his resignation in August, only one day after the State Bar Court placed him on inactive status, Rogers said.
She explained that Lathan was facing charges for allegedly changing clients’ postal addresses without authorization so that their mail would be delivered to his office, then collecting and cashing their government checks by forging their signatures.
Criminal charges have not been filed against him, Rogers said.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company