Long Beach attorney on probation for co-mingling client and personal funds

By Olivia Olsen | Mar 19, 2017

LOS ANGELES — Long Beach attorney Thomas Martin has been placed on one year of probation by the State Bar Court of California. The ruling was handed down is response to the attorney’s misconduct when handling funds in his client trust account.

According to court documents, Martin co-mingled personal funds with client funds in a client trust account he had with Wells Fargo Bank. Martin wrote the first of three checks used for personal expenses out of the account on Oct. 1, 2015. The check was written in the amount of $175 made payable to the Hawaii Medical Administration Association, court documents state.

Martin wrote another check on Nov. 2, 2015, for $100 made payable to his wife. The final personal check was also written on the same date for $280 for the Hawaii state tax collector. The funds used to pay the three bills were not client funds but, instead, were the attorney’s own funds deposited into the client trust, according to court documents. Regardless of the fund ownership, co-mingling funds is still outlined in the California Standards for Attorney Sanctions for Professional Misconduct as qualifying for disciplinary action.

Martin must meet several requirements during his probation. Each quarter he must send reports to the State Bar and notify the bar within 10 days of any changes to his personal or professional information. He must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). If he doesn't pass the MPRE or adhere to the terms of his probation, he will face a one-year suspension without a hearing.

Martin will be responsible for covering all court costs, which totaled $3,824.82 at the time of sentencing. The costs may increase, in which case he will 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 can be found online at calbar.ca.gov.

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