SAN FRANCISCO – Auburn attorney Rick L. Raynsford has been disbarred following a California Supreme Court order and allegations he intentionally misappropriated more than $127,000 in levied funds in a mortgage foreclosure case.
The state Supreme Court issued its order Feb. 1 disbarring Raynsford and ordering him to pay the amount he allegedly misappropriated in restitution to American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc. Raynsford's disbarment was effective March 3, according to a notice issued last week by the state bar to the Northern California Record.
As part of a long-running dispute between Raynsford's client and American Home, in March 2013 San Diego Superior Court ordered Raynsford to return the levied funds to the mortgage servicing company, according to the state bar court's Oct. 4 amended decision and order of involuntary inactive enrollment. Raynsford had retained the amount in his client trust account as his attorney fees.
Raynsford never returned any of the money to American Home, according to the decision and order.
"[Raynsford] had a fiduciary duty to American Home to maintain the funds that remained in his CTA," the decision and order said. "Instead of maintaining the funds and returning them as ordered, [Raynsford] disbursed American Home's funds to himself or to other third parties for his benefit."
Raynsford was admitted to the bar in California on Dec. 3, 1982, according to his profile at the state bar website.
The State Bar Court's recommendation included an involuntary inactive enrollment order that rendered Raynsford 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.
In a discipline that occurred at the same time as his alleged misconduct involving American Home, Raynsford received a fully stayed two-year suspension and was placed on two years' probation, with 60 days of actual suspension, after he stipulated to three counts of misconduct, according to information on his state bar profile. That order went into effect in May 2013. Raynsford stipulated to a single count of failing to return unearned fees and two counts of improper withdrawal from employment.
At the time, Raynsford's lack of a disciplinary record in more than 26 years of legal practice in California, along with cooperating with the state bar and demonstrating remorse, were considered mitigating factors in the discipline.