SAN FRANCISCO (Northern California Record) — Orange attorney Thomas Matthew Gieser, practicing in California for more than 42 years, faces suspension following a California State Bar Court recommendation over allegations of misappropriation and failure to maintain client funds in trust.
"This court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that [Gieser] is culpable on both counts," said the 23-page decision issued June 19 by the state bar court. "In view of his misconduct, as well as the evidence in aggravation and mitigation, the court recommends, among other things, that [Giester] be suspended from the practice of law for two years, that execution of suspension be stayed, that he be placed on probation for two years, and that he be actually suspended for nine months."
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 can request further review within the state bar court.
Gieser's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed earlier this month by the state bar court's hearing department for June.
Gieser was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 19, 1975, according to his profile at the state bar website. Gieser had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to his profile and the decision.
Allegations against Gieser in the contested disciplinary proceeding stemmed from a probate case for which he was hired in March 2014. Following motions for substitute counsel and other actions that called for estate's funds from the client trust account, Gieser "realized that the estate funds were not there," the decision said.
"Immediately upon investigation and discovery of the prohibited transfers and the unintentional misappropriation, Gieser transferred funds from personal savings to replenish the client trust account," the decision said.
A subsequent state bar audit turned up no payments on behalf of the estate "but only revealed payments for various office and personal expenses," the decision said. "Between March 30, 2015 and Feb. 2, 2016, [Geiser] made between 10-12 electronic transfers from his client trust account."
Geiser's "sole office employee" his paralegal, office manager and wife of 35 years, had charge of monthly bank statement reconciliation but was then "distracted due to family problems" and the statements were not reconciled, according to the decision.