San Francisco-based attorney Drexel Bradshaw has been ordered to stop practicing law while the California Supreme Court weighs in on whether he should officially lose his law license.
A California State Bar judge on Thursday recommended Bradshaw be disbarred following accusations he defrauded one of his elderly clients, Ora Gosey, out of thousands of dollars. Gosey has since passed away. She was 90 years old.
The court order comes after a months-long trial brought on by the California State Bar, the state agency tasked with investigating consumer complaints concerning attorneys. For months, the State Bar issued a “consumer alert” on its website for Bradshaw, warning that he is accused of “major misappropriation of client funds.”
In the latest ruling, the judge found Bradshaw guilty of three counts of misconduct: Engaging in the scheme to defraud his client, breaching his fiduciary duties while managing that same client’s trust, and making misrepresentations before a court.
While the judge ruled Bradshaw did “engage in self-dealing,” the court ultimately dismissed the State Bar’s charge that Bradshaw misappropriated $157,246.76 from Gosey’s trust.
Previous reporting by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit, revealed Bradshaw helped create a construction company, that he later hired to work on Gosey’s home while she was suffering from dementia.
Bradshaw’s signature appears on documents filed with the Secretary of State’s Office to form Bay Construction, but he says he’s never had any financial interest nor does he own any part of the company.
According to Bradshaw, he was acting in the capacity as an attorney for the person who actually owns the company, a handyman named Juan Gonzalez. Gonzalez had previously done repair work on Bradshaw’s own home.
In State Bar Court, Gonzalez testified he was under the impression he owned 49 percent of the company, while Bradshaw owned the other 51 percent. Bradshaw’s son, Colin Bradshaw, also worked for the business. Court documents show Bradshaw, his wife, his son, and his receptionist all had company credit cards in their names for Bay Construction.
Bradshaw said the arrangement helped the construction company get a 5 percent discount at Lowe’s. In court documents, Bradshaw said it was a “favor” to help his former handyman “succeed in his business.”
In the latest ruling, the judge noted there was not enough clear and convincing evidence to show that work performed by the company, Bay Construction, was incomplete.
The judge also dismissed charges that Bay Construction engaged in business without a license, again, citing a lack of clear and convincing evidence.
Gosey hired Bradshaw more than a decade ago to help her create a trust account. She never married and did not have any children. In an unusual move, Gosey listed Bradshaw as one of the possible people to manage her money and home should anything happen to her. When she fell and injured herself four years ago, a court appointed Bradshaw in charge of her estate.
The California Supreme Court will get the final say on whether to disbar Bradshaw, however, beginning next week, the State Bar has ordered that he stop practicing law until a final decision is made.
Bradshaw declined to comment on the State Bar’s ruling. A spokesperson for the attorney said Bradshaw plans to appeal the decision. Bradshaw has previously denied any wrongdoing.
In February, he sat down with the Investigative Unit for an exclusive interview just before his trial began and said he has never pocketed any money from Gosey’s trust.
“They’ve made an allegation -- it’s false,” he said. “My client’s money was used by and large for 24-hour home care.”
When asked whether he worried about potentially facing criminal charges, Bradshaw said, “No. Not at all. I haven’t done anything wrong.” He went on to say he has done his “very best to take care of Ora.”
A law enforcement source familiar with the case confirmed Bradshaw, his former handyman, and Bay Construction are all the subject of a criminal investigation, led by the Contractors State License Board.
“Most people don’t see it, but I have a heart of gold and done my best to take care of Ora,” Bradshaw said during that February interview. “She was special to us.”