San Luis Obispo attorney suspended for mishandling client trust account

By Olivia Olsen | May 23, 2017

LOS ANGELES — The State Bar Court of California recently suspended Stephen Christopher Ronca, a San Luis Obispo attorney, for mishandling his client trust account.

According to the March 12 decision, Ronca held a client trust account at Heritage Oaks Bank, which he withdrew from seven times without verifying that he had the funds available to use. 

On April 24, 2014, and June 19, 2014, Ronca wrote two checks to Casa de Flores for $2,775 and $2,767. In August 2014, two debit transactions of $3,964.75 were made for an unknown payee. Two checks were written to Santa Maria Terrace on Sept. 2 and Oct. 20, 2014 for $3,250 and $3,084.44. The final check was written to himself for $200 on Oct. 28, 2014. 

According to the court documents, the transactions were made without the amount of funds needed to make the transactions. 

The California State Bar Court determined that Ronca’s conduct was “grossly negligent” and his acts clearly displayed moral turpitude. The attorney entered into a pre-trial stipulation with the courts that saved time and money, which was considered a mitigating circumstance. 

Ronca was suspended for a period of 30 days followed by a one-year probation. In addition, the attorney will need to complete state bar ethics school and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. During his suspension and probation, Ronca will need to submit quarterly reports to the California State Bar's Office of Probation and alert the office to any changes in his personal and professional status within 10 days. The attorney will also be responsible for court costs.

According to the State Bar of California website, Ronca's suspension is over and he has been eligible to practice law in California since April 11.

Ronca has been a member of the California State Bar since 1996. He is a graduate of the Western University School of Law and had no prior record of discipline. 

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