No Misappropriation, No Moral Turpitude, No Restitution
Posted June 20, 2004
A 1999 State Bar complaint filed against me by Hans Kary (Hansadutta), Chan Hoe Beng (Bhima) and Diane Marie Chan (Das dasi) recently came to a close. These three former clients dramatically alleged that I did the following terrible things to them (and more), and petitioned the State Bar for my disbarment.
"1) Disclosing confidential client information
2) Converting $100,000.00 in investment funds
3) Unilaterally taking $60,000.00 out of the settlement money
4) Adding a person to the action without full disclosure
5) Failing to advise his five clients of potential conflicts
6) Taking a position contrary to the interest of his client
7) Double billing (five clients) and charging an unconscionable fee ($644,051.28)
8) Breaching the terms of the fee agreement
9) Breaching his fiduciary duty as a trustee
10) Failing to give notices before entering into business relationship with clients."
As it turned out, after five years (1999-2004) of State Bar investigation and litigation to sort it all out, none of these allegations were found to be true. Instead, one technical slip-up had occurred when I transferred funds earmarked for attorney's fees without obtaining Bhima's signature on a document acknowledging the transfer of funds pursuant to his prior unequivocal written agreement to fund the BBTI v Hans Kary case.
In other words, I erred in that I trusted Hansadutta and Bhima at their word, and thus I did not demand an explicit, written directive for the transfer of funds - which were due and payable. The State Bar also acknowledged that I had a "good faith" belief that I was entitled to apply those funds to the outstanding attorney's fees due, and that those attorney's fees were, in fact, due and owing.
In any event, someone (ostensibly, "Joe Polodny") is now sending libelous emails (as reproduced below) which falsely state that I "stole (misappropriated) clients' funds." My response to this libelous accusation is reproduced below, as contained in an email to a concerned devotee friend.
From: Gupta das
Subject: "no misappropriation, no moral turpitude and no restitution"
Hare Krishna. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Dear Xxxxxxxxxx Prabhu:
A December 2003 Stipulation resolved a State Bar complaint filed in 1999 by Hans Kary (Hansadutta das) and his two married acolytes, Chan Hoe Beng (Bhima das) and Diane Marie Chan (Das dasi), and thus formally ended their vindictive, five year jihad (1999-2004) to disbar me from the practice of law. Their massive State Bar complaint was filed to create leverage against me, and proceeded parallel with their failed attempts to hijack the publishing license to Srila Prabhupada's original books. Yet, as had been agreed in a Stipulated Judgment at the conclusion of the BBTI v. Hans Kary case, that publishing license was slated for control by a nonprofit board; a license was not given to Hansadutta personally, nor was it ever his own personal property (as he unsuccessfully claimed in court later). Acting in the best interests of preserving that license subsequently put me at loggerhead with Hans Kary and the Chans as their pound-of-flesh campaign included post-settlement Superior Court litigation, trust litigation in the Bahamas, attorney's fees arbitration, and, extensive litigation in defense of their malicious State Bar ethics complaint.
Eventually, the State Bar (and a fees arbitration panel) specifically found that the monies purportedly in dispute ($100,000) were, in fact, properly credited to attorney's fees due. But in the process of transferring those monies from an overseas trading account, a technical violation occurred because I did not request an explicit, written directive for the transfer from Bhima. The State Bar acknowledged, however, that I had a "good faith" belief that I was entitled to apply those funds to the outstanding attorney's fees due, and that those attorney's fees were, in fact, due and owing.
Instead of employing formal, arms length protocol in my relationship with these former clients, I relied, in good faith, on both Bhima's and Hansadutta's word of honor, and thus I did not demand that Bhima formally sign any transfer-of-funds paperwork. That technical slip-up is the factual basis for the stipulation with the State Bar which resolved all of their complaints and resulted in the dismissal of a laundry list of false allegations made against my license. Accordingly, I accepted culpability to one generic, catch-all business code section, 6068(a), which requires lawyers "to support the . laws of this state" and agreed to thirty days of down time (June 18 through July 18), during which I will not practice.
The completely overblown underlying complaint for disbarment filed by Kary and the Chans failed because it was built on patent falsehoods and skewed facts. Consequently, the State Bar formally concluded, after five years of investigation and litigation, that the ethics case involved "no misappropriation, no moral turpitude and no restitution." In other words, and wholly inapposite to Kary's and Chans' false and misleading allegations, the State Bar formally acknowledged that I did not steal anything, that I was not dishonest in my dealings, and that I have no legal or ethical obligation to return anything to these former clients. And, in fact, the stipulation specifically acknowledges the earlier fees arbitration panel conclusion that I am yet owed $92,000 in attorney's fees.
As you can see, the libelous email you received (which may well be from one of these former clients or one of their associates) falsely states that I "stole (misappropriated) clients' funds." Should I uncover the actual identity of the author of that email, I intend to file a complaint for libel per se for those patently false and disparaging statements. Perhaps I will recover my unpaid attorney's fees, after all.
To: Gupta das
Subject: FW: Gupta Das Suspended from Law Practice
Dear Prabhu, this was forwarded to me by "Joe Polodny", whomever he is.
What's up with this? Your servant, xxxxxxxxxx
From: Joe Polodny
Subject: Gupta Das Suspended from Law Practice
Joseph Fedorowsky (Gupta das), an ISKCON attorney on the
Gurukuli abuse case has been disciplined because he stole
(misappropriated) clients' funds and has been suspended from the
practice of law by the California Bar Association as of Friday,
June 18, 2004.