Lawyer disbarred after email faking death to Calif. attorney regulators

(Reuters) – An attorney in California has been disbarred after state bar officials pursuing ethics charges against him received an email falsely stating that he had died.

Donald Martin Stone of Winnetka, whose Oct. 1 disbarment was disclosed by the State Bar of California on Thursday, initially faced disciplinary action for failing to disclose that he had been convicted of stealing from a Sears department store in 1995.

Stone could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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When approached by the state bar about his alleged failure to disclose his conviction, Stone said in a May 2020 letter that the matter had been vacated and dismissed, records in the disciplinary case show. He also said he was retired from practicing law and requested the disciplinary case be dismissed.

The bar moved forward with a hearing against Stone in July 2021, but he failed to appear. In September 2021, the bar received an email from an address that Stone had used to communicate with officials about the case indicating that he had died “months ago.”

Bar officials sent investigators to confirm that Stone had died, but instead found him living at a new address, according to a filing in the case.

The bar submitted a petition for disbarment in November 2021, which the California Supreme Court approved last month.

The case is In the Matter of Donald Martin Stone, No. SBC-20-C-30304, State Bar Court of California.

For California: Lori Flowers

For Stone: Pro Se

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