A Bakersfield family law attorney has been disbarred after she failed to show for trial in State Bar Court on charges she misappropriated nearly $1 million that was supposed to be held in trust on behalf of a client.

The disbarment of Heather Stanley, 46, took effect Jan. 28, according to State Bar records, and she has been ordered to pay restitution of $955,000 — plus 10 percent interest per year from May 2, 2011 — to the client who brought the allegations against her. 

Stanley could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday morning. 

A default judgment was entered against Stanley on May 16, 2017, after she failed to appear for trial, according to State Bar Court documents. The court issued an order of the judgment and notified Stanley that if she didn't move to set aside the default it would recommend her disbarment.

Stanley didn't seek to have the disbarment set aside or vacated within the 45-day period, the documents said, and months later the court still had not heard from her. 

According to the documents, Stanley had already been given a postponement from an earlier trial date after saying she couldn't attend as she had undergone "major surgery" in late 2016.

The counts filed against her alleged she failed to deposit client funds in trust, failed to render an account of the funds, lied to State Bar investigators and acted "dishonestly or with gross negligence."

In August 2010 and May 2011, Stanley received two checks on behalf of a client totaling $1,052,311.57. In 2013, she took $955,000 for her own use, according to disciplinary charges brought by the Office of Chief Trial Counsel in 2016.

The State Bar said Stanley ignored eight requests from her client to account for the money and, when confronted by a State Bar investigator, falsely said she bought cashier's checks and returned the money to the client, according to the charges.

The State Bar issued a "consumer alert" in early February of last year notifying the public of the charges against Stanley.

The State Bar has urged anyone who believes he or she has been the victim of attorney misconduct to file a complaint with the agency.

Jason Kotowski can be reached at 661-395-7491. Follow him on Twitter @tbcbreakingnews.

(7) comments

BillJames

Hi- Any follow up to this story ? Heather and Scott sold there home and have essentially disappeared. Has she been arrested....yet ?

truthseeker

I hope the news investigates more on this story, where is she? Looks like there’s more than one person she’s done this to. Her and her husband disappeared from Facebook when this story broke in Dec. 2016. Prior to that they were living high on the hog posting photos of their yacht, vacation home in Mexico, a vineyard or winery they owned, expensive trips & vacations, and so much more. What a thief!!!

Richard P

I notice there has never been a picture posted of this person.i wonder why?

vedwards7310

And apparently a home in Mexico and a 500,00 motorhome. Last I heard she fled to West Virginia. She took a lot of money from her clients, fellow attorney's, etc. Somewhere in the ballpark of 5,000,000 dollars. It's likely much more considering she has been doing this for years. I too believe they should be prosecuted in criminal court and held accountable to their victims, including her fellow colleagues. She is an embarrassment to the profession and why lawyers get a bad rap. I would readily sign up for a class action lawsuit and/or attend every hearing if she were criminally charged and I'm sure many of her victim's would, as well. That's where the important news story is, it's with her victims....

vedwards7310

I too hired this attorney in late 2016. She went to court for me one time to also get control of the proceeds from the sale of our home. A month after I hired her, the news broke about her and she was no longer available to me yet she kept my retainer. When I requested an accounting of the charges, she charged me for things she didn't even do as a reason not to refund my retainer. I was left in debt and on my own to handle my divorce due to lack of funds. While the money I have lost to this attorney is small in comparison to others, I know that there are many more of her clients just like me. What are we supposed to do? Is she ever going to have to answer for all the money she has misappropriated over the years?

BillJames

I know several people she has essentially stolen from while in practice. She knew the gig was up as she closed down her practice 1 month before the news broke. She has sold her house and is no doubt, long gone. She definitely needs to be charged as well as her husband. They were spending that money on vacations, maids, assistants, dog walkers, a yacht...........

truthseeker

This is awful that she stole from more people. You are correct about their spending habits and their overt displays of it on Facebook which now they’ve deleted their accounts. There is more to this story and I hope they get more information about it.

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