Attorney Bill Beverly, who is running for a fourth full term on the El Camino College board, was suspended from practicing law for 90 days after the State Bar found that he transferred assets to his ex-wife to delay or hinder former clients from collecting a judgment they had won against him.
The State Bar reported that the judgment against Beverlywas $424,000, but Beverly said the judgment was reduced to $200,000.
Beverly, 60, said he did nothing wrong. He characterized the suspension as a slap on the wrist, and said he agreed to it to put the matter behind him as he was dealing with the 2009 death of his father, former state Sen. Bob Beverly.
Beverly pointed out that the division of assets in his divorce was upheld as proper by a bankruptcy court, before that ruling was eventually overturned by an appeals court. He said the appeals court panel found that the transfer of assets was a mistake on Beverly’s part, not a misdeed.
Beverly said the suspension is being unfairly used as a campaign issue by an opponent of his reelection.
“In 30 years of practicing law, I have had one complaint filed against me with the State Bar. I chose not to contest it for personal reasons. My legal adviser, whose advice I relied upon in my divorce, is now a federal judge. The trial judge in the federal court ruled for me on all counts. A panel of appellate judges then reversed them all,” Beverly wrote in an email. “So did I do anything wrong? I guess it depends on which judge you ask.”
However, before the State Bar Court, Beverly “stipulated that his actions involved moral turpitude,” and in addition “he failed to report the…judgment against him to the State Bar, as required,” according to bar documents.
In the transfer, Beverly assigned $1 million in assets to his wife as the couple underwent a divorce. He “transferred the money to his wife in exchange for keeping his pension fund, which he considered exempt from judgment,” according to bar documents.
Beverlymade the transfer after sending letters to his wife and her attorney “about the threat of exposing their community property” to a potential judgment by former clients who claimed legal malpractice on Beverly’s part, according to the State Bar Court.
The clients later won the judgment against Beverly for his handling of a trust deed case.
“These letters demonstrated that the [deed] litigation was the main reason” Beverly transferred the money to his wife, the court found.
“I was not found guilty of anything at the State Bar. It was a week after my father died, and I decided I was not in the mood to fight, and I accepted a 90-day suspension and probation,”Beverly said.
“It’s like I was charged with murder and I pleaded to disturbing the peace,”Beverly said.
It was Beverly’s first ever discipline by the bar, which imposed 444 suspensions statewide in 2010.
Beverly said the suspension is being trumpeted by an opponent of his reelection, local political consultant Fred Huebscher.
“He wants me out of there because I don’t support the policies that he supports,” Beverly said. “Fred didn’t want us to take over Compton,” he said, referring to a 2006 decision by the board to absorb Compton Community College after it was stripped of its accreditation.
Huebscher said he opposesBeverly’s reelection on ethical grounds, because of the suspension. He said he knows Wendy Doeh, Beverly’s opponent for the board seat that serves the South Bay, but is “not paid to work on her campaign.”
Beverly said Huebscher is on a “vendetta” and has not accused him of doing a bad job as a college trustee.
Huebscher has emailed newspapers aboutBeverly’s suspension, and Doeh on Tuesday week sent an email citing the suspension.
Beverly said the deed case, which led to the judgment against him, arose after he helped the family get a loan for a property in 1992, and then later bought an interest in the property to prevent it from being foreclosed upon when the family patriarch died and the economy soured. Beverly later sold his interest, and some time after that the property was foreclosed upon, he said.
“They needed to make somebody responsible for something,” he said.
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