DeRonde Law / Verifies Accusation against attorney
SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA
VERIFIED ACCUSATION AGAINST ATTORNEY
STATEMENT OF THE FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASES OF THE CLAIM
1. The attorney DeRonde was retained in November 2006 by my father Kenneth Bird (now deceased), to represent him as Respondent in a divorce action. The initial fee quoted for this litigation was $5, 000.00. At the time, no written retainer agreement was ever made, in violation of The State Bar Act §6148 (CA B&P Code). My father did put this in writing himself in December of 2006. And DeRonde confirm a similar amount in Interrogatories answered in March 2007. [Exhibit A(4) -(5)]. These documents were discovered in my father’s file I had picked up from the DeRonde law office in July 2008. They appear to support the original agreement that Glen promised to represent my father in his divorce action for closer to $5, 000.00 than $30, 000.00. At the time, my father’s only income was $488.00 per month Social Security, so I gave my Father the $5, 000.00 to retain DeRonde.
This attorney went on to bill my father $30, 796.76 over the course of the divorce action,
in violation of 4-200(A) CA Bar Rules of Conduct, prohibiting unconscionable fees. [Exhibits B(1) - (22)] From the first bill in December of 2006, immediately my father began to dispute the amount of the bills and accuracy of the charges and bookkeeping. He complained dozens of times over several months about this but no corrections were ever made. [Exhibits B(23) - (31)]
2. During the pendency of the divorce litigation, DeRonde took possession of monies from several Stock accounts jointly held between my father and myself, totaling close to $40, 000.00. The checks were not deposited for several weeks. The money was finally put into a trust account in April 2007 and withdrawn in May 2007. At the time of withdrawal, $4, 396.52 of those funds were taken directly by the law firm and to this day have never been accounted for, it simply disappeared. This is in violation of 4-100(A) & (B) CA Bar Rules of Conduct, Preserving Identity of Funds and Property of a Client. This also violates CA Penal Codes §§503, 504 and 506 on Embezzlement. [Exhibits C (1) - (6)] In addition this qualifies as “Abuse of an elder or a dependent adult” under §§15610.07 & 15610.30 of CA Welfare & Institutions Code under Financial Abuse of an Elder.
3. In early 2007 DeRonde insisted my 70 year old father take a loan against his life insurance policy in the amount of $30, 000.00 and pay down a second mortgage on his home. At the time, my father was under standard Family Law Restraining orders prohibiting him from taking such a loan against his life insurance policy. My father did
not want to do this and agonized over this substantially, but trusted his lawyer. In court appearances in both October 2007 and January 2008 this came back to haunt my father, as he was informed at that time about the violation of the restraining order. [Exhibits C (7) - (11)] DeRonde forcing my father to take this loan and threatening to drop the case if my father did not do so constitutes being in violation of The State Bar Act (CA B&P Code) sections §6068 Duty of attorney, §6103 Willful disobedience or Violation of Court Order. In addition this qualifies as “Mental suffering” under §15610.53 of CA Welfare & Institutions Code.
4. In August and September 2008, DeRonde, his staff members and his Paralegal Patricia Richie all participated in defaming me, my dead father and one of my siblings by publishing on the Internet false accusations of crimes and declaring my dead father a “child molester”. DeRonde published Attorney/Client Privileged information on the Internet in an attempt to persuade me to stop pursuing justice for my father by my attempts to recoup the missing money (referred to in paragraph 2 above). After all court appearances were complete, in April 2008 my fathers ex-wife attempted to accuse my father of being inappropriate with his step daughter (as happens in many divorce cases). No mention of this was ever made in court or in the divorce litigation. When my father became aware of the allegations, he called Mr. DeRonde to ask what to do. This conversation was protected by the attorney/client privilege and not a part of Public Record of this divorce. This constitutes an unconscionable violation of The State Bar Act (CA B&P Code) §§6068 (e)(1) and (f) Duty of attorney to client. In addition, these false accusations and incendiary, inflammatory defamations against me and my sibling without any proof of such, violate The State Bar Act (CA B&P Code) sections §6106 Moral Turpitude, §6128 Deceit or collusion with intent against any party, 47 U.S.C. §230 Communications Decency Act, California Civil Codes §§43, 44 & 45 Defamation and CA Penal Codes §§519 & 523 under Extortion, as prior to posting this online, DeRonde threatened to do so in a letter. [Exhibits D (1) - (8)]
5. In June 2007 my father made a payment to DeRonde’s office by cashier’s check in the amount of $9, 000.00 [Exhibit E (1)]. DeRonde’s June billing first showed this payment correctly, then the July 2007 billing shows DeRonde corrected the payment applied, reducing the $9, 000.00 to only $4, 603.48 being applied to my father’s account. [Exhibits E (2) - (4)] Every bill from DeRonde between 12/2006 thru 6/2008 was incorrect. The July 2007 statement duplicates verbatim 11 of the charges first billed on the June 2007 statement. The August 07 statements does the same thing, only it adds July's billing as well for a total of 11 triplicate and 8 duplicated charges in only two months time. The extra fees in this example alone total $2, 214.25. [Exhibits E (5) - (7)] All the bills are full of obvious errors, incorrect hourly rates, and double charges for identical items. The $320.00 court fee required to respond to the divorce petition (only charged by the court once) shows 11 different times throughout the billing statements. That is an over charge of $3, 200.00. [Exhibits E (8) - (29) all bills with the $320.00 are flagged] In addition to embezzlement statutes, each billing violates 18 U.S.C. §§1341 & 1346 Federal Mail Fraud Statutes under Deprivation of Honest Services and using the mail for delivery of fraudulent billing statements for the purpose of obtaining money not rightfully owed, due or earned.
6. In May 2007, while still representing my father the divorce case (to date still not completed), DeRonde sent my father to collections for $8, 307.16 that my father did not even owe. [Exhibits F (1)] Between 11/2006 and 1/2008 my father paid DeRonde $25, 976.76. [Exhibits F (2) - (8)] DeRonde’s own Court Affidavit 2/2008 states his legal fees were $24, 495.20 and court costs were $786.00 totaling $25, 282.00. The Historical Billing on 7/09/08 (sent to me by DeRonde’s office upon my unwavering requests) states his legal fees were $26, 287.85 and puts the court costs at $1, 608.30 totaling $27, 896.15. Unless Mr. DeRonde is willing to admit to perjury in his court affidavit 2/2008 [Exhibit F (9)] I submit the court costs were $786.00, as no court fees were paid after January 2008 (per court docket). By the time of the February 2008 affidavit, my
father had already paid DeRonde about $700.00 more than was the alleged total listed in the affidavit of $25, 282.00. Just using the two overpayment examples listed above in paragraph 5, it is obvious that my father did not owe anything to DeRonde when he sent my father to collections. There are dozens of billing errors in the 22 bills sent that account for thousands of dollars of fraudulent and over billed charges which were never corrected, no matter how many calls or personal office appearances my father made in order to do so. [Exhibits F (10)]
7. In the letter and historical billing from DeRonde dated 7/9/08, the office manager admits to discovering the lost $4, 396.52 that has been missing since May 2007. The letter justifies not returning that money to the estate of my dead father due to forgiving an alleged bill due at the time of his death of approximately $8, 300.00. It is very clear by their own math in the court affidavit, the billing errors and the under reporting of payments made to them by my father that there was no money due DeRonde when my father died. In fact, there should be a rather large refund due the Kenneth Bird Estate once the bills are properly corrected. [Exhibits F (11)]
8. The divorce case DeRonde represented my father in was not complicated. The marriage was under ten years, no children, two vehicles and a retirement account. The Petitioner acted Pro Per for most of the case. DeRonde intentionally delayed this case to inflate his legal fees which should never have been allowed due to his oral contract and promise to complete the case for $5, 000.00. Whenever DeRonde was contacted about the over-billing, he told my father the larger the bills appeared the better, as the legal costs and attorney’s fees would be awarded to my dad at the end of the case. They were not. At the time my father hired DeRonde for this divorce case, he and DeRonde had been friends for 30 years or more. The day before the divorce was filed, the Petitioner had cleaned over $30, 000.00 out of my fathers bank account, leaving him cash poor. My father was told that the $5, 000.00 was DeRonde’s discount for a “friend”. A few months into the case, DeRonde discovered the $40K in stocks my father and I owned. As soon as those checks for those funds were in the possession of DeRonde (March 2007), suddenly the monthly bills began to exceed the promised cap of $5K. The bill for April 2007 alone was $5, 537.05. For May 2007 it was another $4, 321.90. Then money began to disappear (in May 2007 $4, 396.52; in June 2007 another $4, 396.52 as the $9, 000.00 payment was ultimately only credited as $4, 603.48). Our position is that DeRonde agreed to take the case for $5, 000.00 when he believed my father had no liquid assets after his wife cleaned out the bank account. However, after DeRonde (through discovery) located the stock fund money, we believe he conspired to obtain those funds as well. The case was full of intentional delays violating The State Bar Act §6128(b) Willfully delaying client's suit with a view to his own gain. During this simple divorce case there were no less than five Income and Expense Declarations required from my father, four Trial Dates, five OSC Hearings Motions, seven Settlement & Management Conferences and five Continuances. My father was getting more ill as the case dragged on and kept wanting to know why the delays, begging for this divorce to conclude. Dad’s questions were always ignored or placated. Whenever my father questioned the billing errors and demanded correction, my father was told he just didn’t understand the billing. Whenever my father demanded corrections be made before paying any additional money, DeRonde would threaten to drop the case. This scared my father so much and created such anguish that he would put his head in his hands and cry, stating how he could not fight both his ex-wife and his lawyer. Dad didn’t have the money to start all over again with a different lawyer and DeRonde knew it. By this time my father was in a wheel chair and just wanted to live to see the marathon divorce ended. This certainly qualifies as Elder Abuse under CA Welfare & Institutions Code §15610.53 "Mental suffering".
THE LAW and STATE BAR DUTY to PUBLIC
The California Legislature found misappropriations of client funds especially important, as the likelihood of this behavior being a common practice of the law firm subjects all of the lawyer’s clients to the potential of similar victimization as described in paragraphs 2 and 5 above (Under STATEMENT OF THE FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASES OF THE CLAIM section). The State Bar Act §6091.1 Client Trust Fund Investigation of Overdrafts and Misappropriations states: (a) The Legislature finds that overdrafts and misappropriations from attorney trust accounts are serious problems, and determines that it is in the public interest to ensure prompt detection and investigation of instances involving overdrafts and misappropriations from attorney trust accounts.
Although the State Bar is not tasked with the responsibility of addressing criminal violations of the law by attorneys, the punishment for violating a state rule of professional responsibility ranges from private or public reprimand to suspension or disbarment. The State Bar Act §6077 Rules of Professional Conduct—Sanctions for their Violation states “the rules of professional conduct... are binding upon all
members of the State Bar” and provides for the discipline of its members (by the State Bar) by ...”reproval, public or private, or to recommend ...the suspension from practice for a period not exceeding three years”. Violations of the The State Bar Act §§6103, 6106 constitutes cause for disbarment or suspension of attorney by the State Bar. Other violations claimed in this Verified Accusation carry penalties of jail and/or fines which, upon conviction of such, would eventually lead to disbarment or suspension of attorney under The State Bar Act §6102 Conviction of Crime. The State Bar, by refusing to even investigate these complaints was neglectful of its duty to protect the people of California by failing to enforce the statutory disciplinary process and procedures against lawyers who violate the laws, statutes and rules they have sworn to uphold and abide by. I have shown by the official complaint (with exhibits) to the State Bar and by this Verified Accusation (with attached exhibits) that it is reasonable to believe by the facts presented, attorney Glen DeRonde has violated the CA Rules of Conduct, The State Bar Act and various State and Federal laws by his conduct. Especially egregious of these being the violation of attorney/client privilege and defamation by Internet, charging an unconscionable fee, the willful disobedience in violating a Court Order, misappropriation of client funds and Elder Abuse. To deprive us of the ability to address these violations by an official State Bar investigation is equal to sanctioning such behavior, thus allowing this lawyer to continue to victimize his clients with impunity. I not only seek justice for my father, but to also prevent further future victimization by this attorney upon his future clients.