IN THE MATTER OF DISCIPLINE OF RONALD N. SEROTA, BAR NO. 7904 IN THE MATTER OF DISCIPLINE OF RONALD N. SEROTA, BAR NO. 7904 IN THE MATTER OF DISCIPLINE OF RONALD N. SEROTA, BAR NO. 7904
Automatic review of a Southern Nevada Disciplinary Board hearing panel's recommendation that attorney be disbarred from the practice of law in Nevada (Docket No. 57960); original petition by bar counsel to report attorney convicted of crime (Docket No. 59551); original petition by attorney for dissolution of order temporarily suspending him from the practice of law (Docket No. 60719).
Recommendation approved (Docket No. 57960); petitions denied as moot (Docket Nos. 59551/60719).
Ronald N. Serota, Las Vegas, in Proper Person.
David Clark, Bar Counsel, and Glenn Machado, Assistant Bar Counsel, Las Vegas, for the State Bar of Nevada.
BEFORE PICKERING, C.J., GIBBONS, HARDESTY, PARRAGUIRRE, DOUGLAS, CHERRY and SAITTA, JJ.
These bar matters, though separately docketed, all involve the same attorney, Ronald N. Serota, Bar No. 7904. They are not consolidated; however, we have elected to resolve them in a single disposition.
Docket No. 57960 is an automatic review of a Southern Nevada Disciplinary Board hearing panel's recommendation that Serota be disbarred from the practice of law in Nevada. See SCR 105(3)(b). Serota misappropriated $319, 000 in client funds that were to be used to satisfy a judgment in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) action against the client. He asks us to impose a lesser sanction, contending that because of mitigating factors, we should merely suspend him from the practice of law and/or refer him to a diversion program. On de novo review, we conclude that disbarment is the proper sanction and therefore approve the panel's recommendation.
Docket No. 59551 is an original petition by bar counsel advising us that Serota has been convicted of a felony for the same conduct underlying the disciplinary matter. See SCR 111(4). Docket No. 60719 is an original petition by Serota seeking dissolution of our prior order temporarily suspending him from the practice of law. See SCR 102(4)(d). We conclude that the petitions in Docket Nos. 59551 and 60719 have been rendered moot as a result of our decision in Docket No. 57960 that Serota be disbarred from the practice of law.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Docket No. 57960
Serota represented a client in an action by the SEC. The SEC alleged that the client engaged in accounting practices that were violative of federal law. On August 3, 2009, Serota's client signed a consent to entry of judgment, which was filed with the federal court on August 27, 2009.
In anticipation of this negotiated outcome, the client paid Serota all of the monies necessary to satisfy the judgment in advance, by way of 14 checks totaling $319, 901.59 written between July 2 and July 24, 2009. The checks were deposited into Serota's client trust account. Each check contained a notation indicating that it was for some aspect of the SEC action.
Meanwhile, on July 16, 2009, a check from Serota's client trust account was written to Beverage Plus, a company in which Serota had an ownership interest, for $225, 000. Despite this misappropriation, Serota continued to accept additional checks from the client until the client had paid him the entire amount of the anticipated judgment in the SEC action. On July 28, 2009, a check from Serota's trust account was written to Clean Path Resources, another company in which Serota had an interest, for $94, 000. Thus, Serota had ...