LOS ANGELES — The State Bar Court of California recently disbarred Ronald Lee Bartholomew, a Newport Beach attorney, after finding him guilty of misappropriating client escrow funds

The order was handed down on March 1, and the charges stem from a client matter in 2013.

On May 29, 2013, the two owners of Skyset Investments LLC entered into a financial agreement with Metro Global Corporation. The next day, Bartholomew agreed to act as the escrow agent for the deal. On May 31, 2013, $70,000 was deposited into the attorney’s client trust account with Chase Bank and an additional $30,000 was deposited in June. Both transactions were made by Skyset. 

Bartholomew began making withdrawals from the account almost immediately after the funds were deposited. The attorney also made disbursements of the escrow funds, although he was not instructed to do so by Skyset. This continued until June 28, 2013, when the account balance was slightly more than $100. As a result, multiple requests were made by Skyset and those acting on behalf of the company to be reimbursed the $100,000. 

The California State Bar sent a notice of disciplinary charges to Bartholomew on April 20, 2015, requesting a response to the allegations. The attorney replied, stating that no such funds had ever been deposited into his trust account. At the time of disbarment, the attorney still has not refunded the $100,000.

Bartholomew entered into a pretrial stipulation, but because he had committed multiple acts of misconduct and failed to make restitution, the State Bar Court of California issued an order for disbarment.

The Orange County attorney is a graduate of Western State University’s law program and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1971. Through his over 40-year career, Bartholomew had only one prior instance of discipline, a public reproval in 2014. 

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