SAN FRANCISCO — The State Bar of California recently ruled to disbar attorney Alfred Nash Villalobos from the practice of law.
The Nov. 4 decision was the result of Villalobos’ conviction on two counts. The Northridge-based attorney has also received multiple suspensions prior to disbarment dating back to 2004.
According to a Los Angeles Daily News report, the 46-year-old attorney was convicted by a Los Angeles County jury for an infraction committed in August 2009. The charges against Villalobos were the result of an undercover FBI investigation inside the attorney’s firm. The agents discovered that Villalobos had interfered with a grand-jury investigation after he reportedly received $107,000 in “cash and other compensation” by the subject of the investigation. In exchange for the payment, the attorney advised his client, a witness in the investigation, to lie to the grand jury. Villalobos was placed on interim suspension following the conviction in December 2011.
Villalobos appealed the verdict, but it was upheld by the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in 2014. The attorney petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a motion for judicial review, but the request was denied on Oct. 6, 2014.
The State Bar court did not hold a hearing for the attorney’s disbarment. The Business and Professional Code states that an attorney is not entitled to a hearing when “disbarment is mandatory.” The determination of mandatory disbarment was made in consideration of factors involving Villalobos’ felony conviction and “moral turpitude.”
Villalobos’ prior suspension from law occurred in October 2004. In February 2001, the attorney was hired to represent a client and her children in a personal-injury case. In December 2001, $14,500 was paid by Safeco Insurance to Villalobos on behalf of his client, which he deposited into his personal account rather than a client trust. The settlement was to be divided between the attorney, client and medical providers.
According to court documents, the amount owed to the client equaled $5,866.88. However, upon payment, the client received only $5,000 in the form of a check she deposited in her account. The check was returned due to a stop payment requested by the attorney. The client reached out Villalobos multiple times between December 2001 and March 2002 with no response. In May 2002, the medical provider in the case requested payment from the attorney that went unanswered. In May 2014, Villalobos wrote a cashier’s check for $6,867 for the client and another for $3,800 to the medical provider.
The hearing determined that the attorney had failed to deposit funds into a client trust account, failed to pay the client and medical provider in a timely manner, and failure to respond to requests for payment.
The State Bar of California was established in 1927 by the state’s legislature and is governed by 19 trustees. The State Bar Court added appointed full-time judges in 1989. Court documents for all State Bar of California cases can be found at calbar.ca.gov.