Al Moriarty, the former Grover Beach financier and alleged $22 million Ponzi-schemer, was back in court on March 19. Moriarty has been without a lawyer since his second attorney, Scott Whitenack, had to bow out of the case due to legal troubles of his own on Jan. 29.
On March 19, Judge Teresa Estrada-Mullaney appointed SLO-based criminal defense attorney Jeffrey D. Stulberg as Moriarty’s third attorney of record.
In a conversation with New Times on March 19, Stulberg confirmed that he’d been assigned to Moriarty’s case by the county, but said he was unable to discuss any specifics.
The next step in Moriarty’s case will be a trial-setting conference scheduled for April 30.
Moriarty, 80, was arrested in May 2013 on seven felony charges; he initially retained Tom Allen as his attorney. Moriarty dismissed a stunned Allen in favor of Whitenack during an Oct. 16 bail reduction hearing last year. Moriarty met Whitenack in September 2013 when both men were in SLO County Jail.
According to court documents, Whitenack made a motion for release of counsel during a pretrial hearing on Jan. 29, which was granted.
Laura Ernde, communications director for the State Bar of California, told New Times that Whitenack is no longer eligible to practice law in California, as of Feb. 3.
Whitenack, who was initially charged with three misdemeanors and three felonies on Sept. 9, 2013, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of petty theft and driving with a suspended license on Oct. 9. The other charges were dismissed.
Ernde said that the misdemeanor charges involved “moral turpitude.” Legally speaking, that’s defined as conduct considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals, and is grounds for a State Bar suspension.
As of March 26, the State Bar website said Whitenack is still ineligible to practice law in the state of California.