Thomas Craig Nelson, 58, San Diego, California, California state bar number 82506, was disbarred June 16, 2012, and was ordered to make restitution and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.
Nelson stipulated to nine counts of misconduct in three matters. He represented two couples who had disputes with their mortgage lenders, agreed to file chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions to stop pending trustee sales of their homes and then to initiate litigation against the mortgage lenders. One couple paid Nelson $20,700 in advance fees and the other gave him $25,500. Although he filed bankruptcy petitions for both couples, they were dismissed and Nelson never initiated litigation. He stipulated that in both matters he failed to perform legal services competently, account for client funds or refund unearned fees.
He represented another couple, who paid an advance fee of $20,000, to pursue a loan modification and to sue their lender if unsuccessful. Nelson did little to secure a loan modification, never filed a lawsuit and eventually filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy petition that was dismissed. The clients hired a new lawyer after their lender sued them. Nelson admitted he provided no legal services of value to the couple, nor did he account for or refund their advance fee.
Nelson was suspended and placed on probation in 2011 for failing to perform legal services competently, refund unearned fees or cooperate with the bar’s investigation, and he committed acts of moral turpitude. He also was disciplined in 2002 for failing to maintain entrusted funds in a trust account and misappropriating $38,000 in client funds, an act of moral turpitude.
In mitigation, he stipulated to disbarment.