SAN FRANCISCO — West Covina attorney Gabriel Castellanos faces a possible mostly stayed suspension following a recently announced California State Bar Court recommendation over seven counts of misconduct in a single matter.
The state bar court recommended Castellanos receive a two-year suspension with all by six months stayed and that he be placed on two years of conditional probation, according to the 30-page decision issued Oct. 21 by the state bar court.
Allegations against Castellanos stem from a marriage dissolution case in which he was hired in April 2012 to represent one of the parties in the divorce, according to the decision. Among other things, allegedly Castellanos didn't notify his client for more than two years that he had received a $20,000 equalization payment from the other spouse of $20,000, which he deposited into his client trust account when it arrived. Castellanos also allegedly didn't tell his client until May 2014 that the court ordered a judgment of dissolution and terminated her marital status in March 2013.
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.
Castellanos's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed earlier this month by the state bar court's hearing department for December but the decision was only recently uploaded to Castellano's state bar profile.
Castellanos was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 3, 2003, according to his profile at the state bar website. Castellanos had no prior record of discipline, according to the decision.
Charges against Castellanos included three counts of moral turpitude for misrepresentations to a financial institution, a client and to the office of chief trial counsel, failure to inform a client of a significant development and improperly settling a professional malpractice claim. Castellanos stipulated to six of the six of the seven counts but the state bar court found "clear and convincing evidence" that Castellano was culpable on all counts, the decision said.
The state bar court treated as a mitigating circumstance "extreme emotional problems before and during the time of his misconduct," including Castellanos' father's diagnosis with cancer in February 2013, according to the decision.