Santa Clara Attorney and Former County Bar President John Mlnarik Suspended by the State Bar

By Robert Haugh

John Mlnarik can’t practice law for one year and he’s on probation for three years. Mlnarik admits to bilking a couple clients.  Ouch.

The California State Bar Association suspended Mlnarik on November 7, 2018. Here’s a link to their ruling.

Interestingly, Mlnarik was the 2015 President of the Santa Clara County Bar Association.

The State Bar investigated just two Mlnarik cases.

Ludette Storozinski and Kia Freidman are case number 16-O-17734.  The investigation found that Mlnarik billed his client for help with a loan modification but didn’t actually do any work.

The report says:

“On July 30, 2016, after Ms.Storozinski terminated respondent’s services, respondent charged Ms. Friedman’s credit card $13,828.33 for Ms. Storozinski’s legal fees without Ms. Friedman’s knowledge or consent.”

Aro Ebenhahn is case number 17-O-0338. He hired Mlnarik to represent him in a lawsuit. But then he fired him. Mlnarik tried to charge him anyway.

The report says:

“By attempting to charge Aro Ebenhahn’s credit card for $6,200 without his knowledge or consent, and after Mr. Ebenhahn withdrew his authorization to charge the credit card and terminated respondent’s services, respondent intentionally committed an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption, and willfully violated Business and Professions Code, section 6106.”

According to our sources in the legal profession, Mlnarik’s suspension could have been worse. But he got some nice letters from people vouching for his “good character.” He also, got some points for being active in the community.

The report says:

“Respondent is also very active in his church, St. Justin Parish Community, as a parishioner, lector, and Eucharistic Minister. Respondent has performed substantial community service with his church through being an active member of St. Justin Stablemates since 2012. Further, respondent is the Judge Advocate and a founding member of the Sons of the American Legion Squadron at Legion Post 419, a member of Rotary International since 2012, and currently serves as the 2018-2019 President of the Santa Clara Rotary Club.”

Other Mlnarik Controversies

Mlnarik was an unsuccessful candidate for Santa Clara City Council in 2012. After he lost, he was on “a legal warpath” according to SanJoseInside.com.

Mlnarik sued Elena Rivkin Franz, a former employee of Mlnarik’s. She says he used staff and resources from his law firm to walk precincts during the race.

Mlnarik won a defamation lawsuit against James Rowen for almost $400,000. Rowen worked on Mlnarik’s campaign for under-the-table cash, he says. Rowen started attacking Mlnarik online too.

Mlnarik also sued an elderly couple whose small dog allegedly bit him when he was campaigning and entered their yard, according to the Mercury News.

Mlnarik also represents disgraced former City Councilman Dominic Caserta who paid him $40,000 last August. Back then, it looks like all he did was write a one-page press release.

Mlnarik is active with the sinking Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber PAC.

The PAC needs legal help.  But they won’t be getting it from Mlnarik.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 comments

  1. This is Kia Friedman I’m the person who reported Mlarnik to the CA State Bar. What the CA State bar ruling is just tip of the iceberg. What it doesn’t mention is how he committed the fraud. He committed the fraud by fabricating documents and forging (manual copy and paste) signature in order to defraud a financial institution and myself. He also lost the fee dispute unanimously in front of 3 panel arbitrators and was ordered to pay back in full of approximately $23,000. He did not, instead he sued me. I countered with claim of conversion and other. I racked up thousands and thousands of dollars which I’m sure was his objective, hoping I’d give up on this matter. He then dismissed the case and left me with a huge legal bills. This matter is still not settled at the time of this post. It was his negotiations with CA state bar, he was to pay back the restitution, not for the moral compass that he does not possess.

    More importantly, he specializes in foreclosure and bankruptcies. People go to see this man in desperate situation. My friend, his former client, Ludette Storozinski had filed bankruptcy couple of years prior due to her cancer diagnosis. And her house was being foreclosed upon when we went to see Mlarnik. I was there for moral support and lend money for the retainer until she gets back up on her feet…What he did is unforgivable. (Look up my cross complaint on this matter on Santa Clara County)

    Lawyers that prey on people that are in desperate situation and not able to defend themselves against attorneys such as Mlarnik are the real victims. There are many!

  2. Thank you, Robert, for sharing this information. After what John Mlnarik put Debi Davis, Tino Silva and me through during the 2016 campaign – at the same time that he was bilking clients – I daresay the expression “what goes around comes around” is definitely accurate here.

    Mlnarik filed minor complaints against us with the FPPC. After a year of unnecessary stress, we were fined by the FPPC for not reporting campaign expenditures in a timely manner and those fines were paid out of our own pockets. We had mistakenly been told by a representative of the FPPC that those campaign expenditures could be reported at the close of the campaign — which we did. In the end, the campaign expenses were paid, the FPPC was paid but more importantly, the FPPC stated in their final letter to each of us that the FPPC “FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF INTENT TO CONCEAL!”

    Those words are very important. Irresponsible reporters have even mentioned it in articles without telling the whole story. What is ironic is the same person who filed these complaints against us has now been found to have bilked clients for lots of money. Talk about unethical and he was doing this while finding ways to unfairly attack Debi, Tino and I. Yep, karma. It does exist.

  3. Robert, thank you for breaking this story. It seems that the ‘Weekly” continues only to print the biased versions of the “Opinionated not FACTUAL Miles Barber.” Anyone who’s done business with this unethical attorney should know the FACTS. Could there be other victims of his despicable behavior? His “ASSumed” generosity to non-profits is nothing more than using other peoples money! No more buying your way into Santa Clara!!

  4. A crooked (scheister) lawyer? Noooooo….I don’t believe it! Isn’t that a post law school course? Pretty sure every politician and 85% of lawyers have at least a B.S. major in it.

  5. Hi, I just read your story. We’re having trouble getting a hold of Dominic Caserta. Could you help?

    Actually, we just need his credit card info to charge him for stuff we’re not doing. If you have it, you can just email it to us at crooks@Mlnarik.com.

    Thanks for your help. And Happy New Year! Go Niners!

  6. Great story, Robert. You broke another big one. One thing you didn’t mention is that Mlnarik is also the attorney for Miles Barber and is one of the few advertisers in his so called newspaper. Didn’t he represent Barber in his failed attempt to sue you?

    I noticed that Mlnarik was suspended over two months ago. Barber would have known about it. But there was no story until you broke the news. Barber ignored the story. Thankfully, you are alternative and much better source of journalism for our city. Barber and the Weekly are as corrupt as Mlnarik.

    Keep up the excellent work.

  7. Oh great. A sleazy and dishonest attorney who’s also litigious. That’s just what our society needs.

    Everyone should share this story to get the word to other possible victims. If there’s two victims, there’s a lot more. Other media outlets should be running this story too.

    Here’s how someone should file a complaint —

    http://www.CalBar.gov/Public/Complaints-Claims

  8. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy! Gees, where will Caserta get his legal advice from next? Not too many sleezeball attorneys in Santa Clara unless you count Patricia Mahan. Birds of a feather….

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