LOS ANGELES — John E. Sweeney Jr., an attorney in Simi Valley, Calif., was recently sentenced to one year of probation by the State Bar Court of California after the court found him guilty of failing to promptly provide client paperwork and accounting of client funds.
The first matter stems from a client Sweeney provided council for in 2009. The attorney was hired to help the client and his business purchase a company and some of their patents. Sweeney was allegedly paid $200,000 over the course of a month to cover expenses.
In Nov. 2012, the client terminated the relationship and hired a new attorney in July 2013. The client’s paperwork and accounting records were requested on July 2, 2013. When no response was given, the new attorney sent another request on July 19, 2013. The requested information was not issued until March 2014.
In the second matter, Sweeney was hired to represent a client in July 2010 and was paid $15,000 in advance. The matter was later settled in Dec. 2012, and the client requested her files and accounting records. Sweeney did not provide the paperwork until it was requested by the State Bar Court during its investigation into the matter.
During Sweeney’s one-year probation, he must meet several requirements including sending quarterly reports to the State Bar of California and notifying them of any changes in his personal or professional information within 10 days.
Sweeney must also take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). Failure to pass the MPRE or adhere to any of the terms of his probation will result in a one-year suspension without a hearing.
The attorney is also responsible for covering all court costs, which at the time of sentencing totaled $4,743.39. The costs are subject to increase, in which case, Sweeney will have to pay the additional fees.