A 64-year-old former attorney who practiced in Vista before he was disbarred in July pled not guilty Monday to charges of embezzlement, grand theft and financial elder abuse for allegedly stealing settlements and retainer fees from clients.
David Gilbert Ronquillo faces five years and eight months in state prison if convicted, said Paul Levikow, spokesman for the district attorney's office. Ronquillo was being held Monday at the South Bay Detention Center in Chula Vista on $50,000 bail, said Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Dort.
According to State Bar court documents, Ronquillo misappropriated about $125,000 from two clients.
In 2005, Ronquillo procured a $235,606 insurance settlement for a Canadian man who lost his wife and was himself injured in a 1999 Needles car accident, State Bar Judge Richard Platel said in his decision to inactivate the lawyer's bar membership. Ronquillo never paid the client his $115,066 portion of the settlement and instead used the money to run his practice, Platel found.
In 2007, a San Diego client gave Ronquillo a $10,000 retainer fee to defend him in a civil action, Platel said.
The suit was quickly dismissed, and Ronquillo, who only earned $1,000 in the case, never returned the $9,000 balance to his client, Platel said.
The State Bar had previously disciplined Ronquillo in 2004, suspending his membership for 30 days and placing him on probation for repeatedly issuing personal and business checks from his client's trust accounts, according to State Bar records.
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Disbarred Vista Lawyer Accused of Stealing Client's Settlement