Lawyer charged with fraud after Watchdog report
Prosecutors allege she took more than $100,000 from 3 clients
By Jeff McDonald
September 29, 2011
Carlsbad attorney Patricia Gregory was charged Thursday with 11 felonies for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from clients and practicing law without a license.
The charges came less than two weeks after The Watchdog included Gregory as the leading example in a report about lawyers whose cases at the State Bar Court did not result in them being prosecuted criminally.
According to the six-page complaint, Gregory stole more than $100,000 from three clients in 2007 and 2008. She also wrongly practiced law or advertised legal services earlier this year, the complaint says.
Gregory was charged with five counts of fraud, five counts of grand theft and one count of unauthorized practice of law. She faces up to four years in state prison on each count, and a $10,000 fine. She was ordered to appear in court Oct. 18.
Gregory was recommended for disbarment in March after the State Bar Court concluded she improperly withdrew more than $112,000 from a client trust fund. Her license is invalid during an appeal of the recommendation.
She told The Watchdog that there are inaccuracies in the criminal complaint, that she was entitled to every dollar she withdrew as legal fees, and that the alleged victims received more legal services than they paid for.
“You cannot ‘steal’ something in which you have an interest,” Gregory said by email.
Former client Denise Doll, one of the three victims identified in the complaint, said she was pleased to learn of the charges but said it should never have taken so long to file a criminal case.
“This woman has damaged me greatly,” Doll said. “It’s been over two years.”
Luwain Ng is another of the alleged victims. According to a civil suit she and Doll filed, Gregory stole the proceeds of the family home that was sold when Ng and her husband divorced.
“I plan on attending every single hearing,” Ng said. “I want my money back. I’ve been waiting since 2008. I want justice served.”
Ng said she would rather have seen Gregory arrested and jailed instead of being issued a court date. She said she is afraid her former lawyer will flee prosecution.
“What then?” Ng asked.
According to Gregory’s website, she used to work for the District Attorney’s Office in child support enforcement. The office declined to discuss its prosecution strategy but said Gregory was treated like any other defendant.
“Attorneys are treated no differently than any other defendant,” said Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “In terms of her case, we can’t comment because it is open.”
Gregory’s was one of four cases in a report by The Watchdog earlier this month about lawyers whose misdeeds are adjudicated by the State Bar Court but not prosecuted criminally. The District Attorney’s Office said many factors come into play, including different standards of proof in bar court and criminal court.