SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) – Philip James Layfield, a Park City, Utah, attorney who was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1999, faces disbarment following a May 18 California State Bar Court recommendation on over 12 counts of violating professional conduct rules, including alleged misappropriation of millions of dollars from clients.
In addition to disbarment, the state bar court recommended that Layfield be ordered to pay more than $3.4 million in restitution to three former clients, according to the eight-page decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment issued by the state bar court. The amount of restitution is how much Layfield is alleged to have misappropriated from those clients, in addition to allegations he failed to provide an accounting of almost $5.9 million in settlement funds.
Layfield was arrested in New Jersey in March on federal mail fraud and money laundering charges, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release. Layfield was taken into custody following his return to the U.S. from his "new residence in Costa Rica," following a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury, the press release said.
If convicted on those three counts, Layfield would face a maximum of 60 years in prison.
The California State Bar Court's recommendation included an involuntary inactive enrollment order that rendered Layfield involuntarily enrolled as an inactive member of the State Bar of California. That order was effective three calendar days after service, according to the recommendation.
Layfield failed to participate in person or via counsel during the proceedings, and the 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.
The state bar's entry for default was entered in January.
The state bar's recommendation 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.
Layfield's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed by the state bar court's hearing department for May.
Layfield was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 7, 1999, according to his profile at the state bar website. Layfield had no prior disciplinary action before the state bar but there are 91 investigations pending against him, according to his profile and the recommendation.