SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco attorney Gregory Mackean Bentley was disbarred by the California State Bar on Dec. 4, 2016.
The attorney, 35 was found culpable in misconduct charges involving his alleged misuse of his client trust account. Bentley was determined to have commingled personal funds with client settlements and issued checks for personal expenses from the account.
According to court documents, Bentley was charged with three counts of misconduct. The first two counts were violations of the California Rules of Professional Conduct rule 4-100A outlining the misuse of client funds for personal matters. The third violated the Business and Professions Code rule 6068 subdivision (i) for failing to cooperate with his disciplinary investigation.
The State Bar followed the procedure for disciplinary proceedings closely beginning with their initial attempt to make contact with Bentley on Dec. 7, 2015. A notice of disciplinary charges (NDC) was sent to the attorney via mail to the address provided on his membership record. The NDC was later returned as undeliverable.
Over the next year, several further attempts to contact Bentley via different mediums were made to no avail. In the aftermath of the State Bar employing reasonable diligence to contact Bentley with no response, a default plea was entered into record. The motion was filed Jan. 22, 2016. Bentley did not submit a response to the motion, and on Feb. 9, 2016, the default was entered.
Bentley had 90 days from the date when the default was entered to request a have his default set aside or vacated. No such request was made, an on May 17, 2016, a petition for the attorney’s disbarment was filed. Bentley again had time to submit requests to counter the disbarment but did not. The case was submitted for consideration June 14, 2016.
It was recommended by the State Bar Court of California that Bentley be disbarred due to his negligence, the harmful nature of his misconduct, and his inability to provide a response to multiple attempts to make contact.
Bentley will be required to comply with the California Rules of Court Rule 9.20 subsections (a) and (c) in regards to his suspension. The rules require Bentley to notify all of his clients of the ruling, deliver any papers necessary to clients in regards to their cases, return any fees that remain unearned, and alert opposing counsel in any pending litigation of his disbarment. Bentley must then file with the clerk of the State Bar Court that he has complied with the provisions of his disbarment.
The attorney will be responsible for covering all court costs. The initial costs are subject to increase, in which case Bentley will need to pay the additional fees.
The California State Bar 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 Court of California cases are online at calbar.ca.gov.