Santa Ana attorney disbarred over misappropriation, other allegations

By Karen Kidd | Oct 18, 2017

Santa Ana attorney John Thomas Dzialo has been disbarred by the California State Bar following four counts of misconduct, including misappropriation, in a single client matter, according to a recent state bar filing.

Dzialo willfully violated state bar rules of professional conduct when he failed to maintain $7,475 of his client's funds in his client trust account, according to the seven-page decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment issued Sept. 11 by the state bar, disbarring Dzialo. Dzialo also committed moral turpitude when he misappropriated those funds to his own purpose and failed to promptly release to the client or his client's new attorney all of the client's files, despite numerous requests for those files, according to the order.

One count against Dzialo, knowingly acquiring an ownership adverse to his client, was dismissed with prejudice, according to the order. The state bar's notice of disciplinary charges (NDC) alleged Dzialo was told by his client that the client had authorized a $40,000 loan to Dzialo and that the client did not authorize the loan, according to the order. The state bar did not prove the charge with clear and convincing evidence, according to the order.

The state bar's decision is pending final action by the California Supreme Court, an appeal before the state bar's review department or expiration of time in which parties may request further review within the state bar court.

Dzialo's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed earlier this month by the state bar court's hearing department for September.  

Dzialo was admitted to the bar in California on Oct. 29, 1992, according to his profile at the state bar website. Dzialo has no prior record of discipline before the state bar, according to the order.

Dzialo failed to participate in person or via counsel and state bar's decision and order for disbarment was entered by default. In such cases, in which an attorney fails to participate in a California State Bar disciplinary proceeding despite adequate notice and opportunity, the bar invokes Rule 5.85, which provides the procedure for the state bar to recommend an attorney’s disbarment.

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