Cal Bar Suspends Santa Clara Attorney’s Law License Over ‘Moral Turpitude,’ ‘Corruption’

John Mlnarik—the attorney who represented disgraced Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta before sexual harassment claims drove him to resign—is barred from practicing law for a year after admittedly fleecing a pair of clients.

The California State Bar Association placed Mlnarik—a former president of the Santa Clara County Bar Association—on a one-year suspension and three-year probation starting Nov. 7 after reviewing two of his cases.

In one instance, Mlnarik charged clients Ludette Storozinski and Kia Freidman for loan modification services he never actually completed. According to state bar records, Mlnarik billed Storozinski’s credit card for nearly $14,000 on July 30, 2016, after she fired him and though he never completed the work.

In the second case, Mlnarik tried to charge $6,200 to a client, Aro Ebenhahn, after he already terminated the attorney’s services. According to the state bar, Mlnarik committed an intention act of “moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.”

Mlnarik’s penalty reportedly could have been worse, but the state bar considered some “mitigating circumstances,” like his eight-year run in the field without any discipline, his service on various industry association boards and to his church, St. Justin Parish Community, in Santa Clara.

In addition to working for Caserta last year after San Jose Inside/Metro exposed the councilman’s longstanding pattern of alleged sexual misconduct, Mlnarik also represented Shaian Mohammadi, another local politico at odds with this news outlet, in a lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed with prejudice in 2017.

Mlnarik didn’t respond to a call for comment.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

15 Comments

  1. Perhaps he could join Ben Field at the South Bay Labor Council. They don’t seem to mind shady ethics there.

  2. Why is District Attorney Jeff Rosen not prosecuting this Criminal?? Seems like another slap on the wrist for a member of our corrupt judicial system in Santa Clara County.

    Seems like we need a New District Attorney that will clean up this mess. Rosen gets an F in my book….

    Jeff Rosen would rather go after a Journalist (Susan Bassi) for taking a photograph in a court house but won’t prosecute one of his own. So sad….

    Seem like we have a similar “Code of Silence” just like law enforcement with our Attorneys and Judges in our County.

    • What in the world are you talking about Scott? John violated legal ethics and was punished accordingly, there are no criminal charges for the DA to even prosecute.

      Watch a YouTube video about the legal system or at least read a Grisham novel or something.

  3. Great Job Jennifer Wadsworth! Rare is the reporter who exposes attorney misconduct. Here is the additional information readers might miss: 1.) Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen has refused to criminally prosecute lawyers stealing client money. John Mlnarik STOLE money, anywhere else that would be a felony crime. 2.) John Mlnarik got his ” community service” deemed a mitigating factor in his State Bar discipline. FACT CHECK: The local bar is a membership organization with a history of misusing the public courthouse ( January 20, 2017 they used for Judge Grilli retirement party and locked the public out during normal business house), which Jeff Rosen and John Chase refused to investigate 3.) While Mlnarik was president and active leader at the local bar, we have documented the local bar didn’t return public calls or assist the public with fairness in the court as local court administrative rules 3A and 3B require. 4.) The Bar praised Milnarik for community services with a religious organization that was being investigated for connections to the child sex abuse scandals. 4.) Inns of Court is NOT a community service organization, it is an organization that operates like a secret fraternity involving local judges where their is reportedly heavy drinking, rampant sexual harassment, and prohibited exparte communication going on as if it were a sporting event. Mlnarik, is part of a culture that allowed the Good Old Boys to hijack justice, harm the public and break the law as Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, and Public Integrity Prosecutor, John Chase, cashed in on over $1 million a year of taxpayer funds and looked the other way when local lawyers engaged in crimes. Thanks San Jose Inside for this important local reporting. Now maybe Dan can #investinink to put it in print in the Metro !

    • > 4.) The Bar praised Milnarik for community services with a religious organization that was being investigated for connections to the child sex abuse scandals.

      “a religious organization that was being investigated for connections to the child sex abuse scandals” = the Catholic Church?

      “The Bar praised Milnarik for community services with . . . the Catholic Church”?

      Association with the Catholic Church is now evidence of . . . “attorney misconduct”?

      Wait til the Supreme Court hears about THIS.

    • Thank you for posting this. Now if only this could get on a billboard or go viral. And, if everyone who has knowledge of the same type of criminal activities of he sleazy lawyers all over the county could do the same. I have personal experiences that would make the above acts look like childs play. Unfortunately, the corrupt abuser attorneys lay groundwork for getting away with their crimes by smearing and destroying their victims to marginalize them and essentially blacklist them from access to any other attorneys, services, the media etc.

  4. I’m not sure whether this shyster is now considered a felon, but grand theft can be prosecuted as a felony and conviction would surely ban him from most professional occupations for life. They should punish these criminals in every possible way to make them suffer.

  5. We had an unpleasant experience with this law firm a couple years ago when we went to them to update a living trust.

    Their attorney (David Brazgel, IIRC), originally wanted a $1400 retainer. But after he said the (minor) change would probably cost around $600 – $800, I asked why he wanted $1400, and I offered to deposit $800. After some vague back and forth discussion we finally agreed on $1000, which I paid.

    Well, guess what? Once Mlnarik’s lawyer got hold of our thousand bucks, we never saw any of it again…

  6. Mlnarik’s alleged misdeeds pale in comparison to the criminal acts City Attorney Richard Doyle and his deputies committed in collusion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the US District Court during the litigation of two racial and disability discrimination lawsuits I filed against the City. Doyle who was acting at the direction of the City Council instructed two police officials to lie under oath during their depositions and in a declaration filed with the District Court. One of the police officials was bribed for his perjured testimony. Doyle then committed fraud with my attorney, Stuart Kirchick, by entering a stipulation to dismiss one of the police officials from my lawsuit without my authorization, even though Kirchick and the City had admitted in papers filed with the court that the official had violated my rights. This is a clear cut case of obstruction of justice. I have evidence that Kirchick was paid off by the City. In response to a motion I filed seeking to have the District Court reverse its decision dismissing my lawsuit, court officials falsified court records, staged a fake hearing on my motion, and then fabricated a transcript and a bogus ruling dismissing my motion. The bar association took no action against Kirchick and DA Rosen refused to open an investigation into this matter. It is disgraceful that Mlnarik is being suspended while Kirchick, Doyle and his deputies are facing no discipline. This article about Mlnarik appears to be motivated by politics. I have presented Jennifer and SJI’s former editor Josh Koehn with indisputable evidence to support my allegations. Just as DA Rosen and the state bar, SJI is engaged in a cover-up. I challenge Mayor Liccardo and the City Council to respond publicly to my allegations. See these links for my evidence: https://www.facebook.com/groups/624131267713226/; http://crnctz.blogspot.com/2015/08/exposing-cover-up-of-cheating-scandal.html
    Fred Bates, retired SJPD

  7. It’s The State Bar of California, not …Association. It’s quasi governmental, not an old boys club. Also, attorneys aren’t prosecuted based on State Bar records, they are prosecuted on evidentiary finding after an investigation. Calling it records makes it sound like the State Bar keeps track of everything every attorney does all the time. That makes the Bar sound omnipotent and if that was true, why go through a trial at all?

    • Get it Right – You actually are not correct. Yes, the State Bar, not the Association. Anyone who thinks either the State Bar ( full state agency, not quasi) or the local Bar Association is not an” old boys club” …..have I got some public records and videos for you.

      Policies and procedures of the Bar provide that the Bar MAY refer a crime, they just never do. Business and Professions Code 6101 requires the city lawyers, or the DA, to report any attorney charged with a crime to the Bar, and to note in the court file that the person being prosecuted is a lawyer. Jeff Rosen ignores this law that is intended to protect the public.

      Jeff Rosen’s has created a culture where lawyers are simply not prosecuted for outright felony crimes. This lawyer stole money from clients. Mr. Rosen goes after people stealing sodas from stores more aggressively than he ever prosecutes lawyers. And yes the Bar and the California Supreme Court are responsible for disciplining and licensing attorneys in this state. But the crimes lawyers commit have to be prosecuted in local counties.

      For too many years, the State Bar has been complicit , and the DA has prosecuted for his political purposes, not for public protection when lawyers are the criminals. Shot Sergeant, you got it wrong too. Disbarment does not address that this lawyer outright stole money. That is a crime even if he is a lawyer. The Bar does not prosecute crimes, the district attorney does. Or in Jeff Rosen’s case, doesn’t prosecute crimes.

      Thanks for sharing Smokey. Did you report that to the Bar, or are you just another unreported victim of attorney crimes?

  8. I’ll say it again, Happiness is a politician walking off a long pier with a dead lawyer under each arm!

  9. From the comments: “Business and Professions Code 6101 requires the city lawyers, or the DA, to report any attorney charged with a crime to the Bar, and to note in the court file that the person being prosecuted is a lawyer. Jeff Rosen ignores this law that is intended to protect the public.”

    Fine, but Mlnarik was not charged with a crime. These are two fee disputes, and the worst thong Mlnarik did was to try to collect his fees.

    It doesn’t sound like Ebenhahn was fleeced, only that he was dissatisfied with Mlnarik’s work, and refused to pay

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