Long Beach attorney disbarred for money-laundering conviction

By Olivia Olsen | Mar 5, 2017

LOS ANGELES — Richard Charles Brizendine, an attorney practicing out of Long Beach, was disbarred from practicing law in California after he was convicted by a federal court of felony money laundering.

His disbarment began on Dec. 4 upon the order of the California Supreme Court.

According to a report by the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Brizendine pleaded guilty in December 2014 to felony money laundering and conspiracy to structure financial transactions to aid a marijuana store owner in his attempts to avoid federal reporting. Brizendine was accomplice and party to the criminal acts of John Melvin Walker, one of his clients.

Walker, an area drug kingpin known as “Pops” according to the Orange County Register, had earned $25 million in a six-year period through his multiple marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and Orange counties. According to a report by the Press-Telegram, Walker’s nine operations were run illegally. Walker was convicted of tax evasion and conspiring to distribute one ton of marijuana and sentenced to 22 years in federal prison.

Brizendine allegedly helped Walker hide his income through various deceitful methods. The attorney deposited funds for Walker at different banking institutions and through corporate accounts that the attorney had access to in order to mask Walker’s wealth. The sums were all under $10,000, which falls beneath the amount for federal banking disclosures. The attorney reportedly attempted to hide almost $400,000 for Walker.

Although Brizendine faced a 10-year sentence, his lawyer argued for home arrest. According to another report by the Register, Brizendine’s attorney said he had lost his identity, reputation and income as he was fired from his firm, Evans, Brizendine, and Silver, prior to disbarment. In June 2015, the presiding judge determined jail time was necessary for the nature of the crime, with Brizendine receiving a 3-month sentence in prison and 2 years of supervised release.

After initially placing Brizendine on interim suspension, upon receiving the federal court ruling, it was recommended that Brizendine be disbarred. The State Bar Court of California determined that Brizendine’s actions showed great moral turpitude as he knowingly engaged in the criminal activity. The attorney was not granted a hearing.

Brizendine 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 Brizendine 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. Brizendine must then file the clerk of the State Bar Court that he has complied with the provisions of his disbarment.

The 61-year-old attorney was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1981, according to his profile page on the State Bar website.

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