SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - A San Francisco traffic attorney who is accused of taking money, not showing up in court, and abandoning clients could be suspended or disbarred and fined up to $50,000 by The State Bar of California.
Robert Amparan, owner of California Traffic Defenders in San Francisco, is facing a dozen charges including allegations he "intentionally, recklessly and repeatedly failed" to do his job.
Amparan, who has been California licensed lawyer since 1994, had his license placed on "inactive" status by The State Bar, making him unable to practice law, at least for now.
It comes after a KTVU report where Bay Area drivers with traffic tickets claimed they hired and paid Amparan to represent them in court, but later received notices that he did not show up in court.
Those clients claimed they faced additional fines, some close to $1,000 and risked losing their drivers' licenses because of Amparan’s conduct.
Khaled Elsakkor received two traffic tickets in two Bay Area counties and paid Amparan flat fees totaling $450 in hopes of getting the tickets dismissed. Two months later, he received two civil assessments close to $900 for failing to appear.
"This attorney needs to be disbarred," Elsakkor said.
Tory Schwenk went to California Traffic Defenders for help with three red light camera tickets he got in Newark for failing to fully stop. Again, Amparan did not show up for his court date and Schwenk is out at least $1,000 and worried his drivers' license may be taken away.
"I feel victimized," Schwenk said. "It's appalling. It's a travesty of justice."
The State Bar announced in late August it was investigating numerous complaints against Amparan and his business.
"They took action on this guy because [KTVU] put a piece on television, it’s as simple as that," said attorney Richard Zitrin who has been critical of The State Bar’s process for disciplining attorneys. "You were the squeaky wheel and they responded to that."
The State Bar declined to comment but issued a statement saying, "The charges filed against Mr. Amparan are specified in the notice of disciplinary charges. The next step in the process will be for the State Bar Court to schedule an initial status conference."
Amparan did not respond to several requests for comment.
In the past, state audits show The State Bar has not effectively investigated or disciplined delinquent attorneys.
"The State Bar responds to publicity," Zitrin said. "What it doesn’t do well enough is respond to the true public need and go after the worst people first."