On Friday, January 5, 2024, the Supreme Court of California issued an order disbarring attorney Andrew Peter Altholz from practicing law in the state.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Andrew Peter Altholz,” with case no. 8281278.

The State Bar had filed a Notice of Disciplinary Charges against Altholz in October 2022, alleging three counts of professional misconduct. According to the Notice, Altholz rented an apartment from his client, Dr. Kamran Ghadimi, beginning in November 2013. In September 2019, during the course of Altholz’s tenancy, Dr. Ghadimi hired Altholz to provide legal representation for various matters related to Dr. Ghadimi’s businesses and properties.

However, beginning in November 2019, Altholz unilaterally stopped paying rent to Dr. Ghadimi, accruing over $22,000 in unpaid rent and expenses by September 2020. When Dr. Ghadimi requested payment, Altholz insisted that Dr. Ghadimi deduct his legal fees from the balance owed in rent, without obtaining Dr. Ghadimi’s written consent as required by the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding business transactions with clients.

The State Bar further alleged that after December 2020, Altholz failed to pay additional rent owed to Dr. Ghadimi. In October 2021, when Dr. Ghadimi hired a new attorney regarding the unpaid rent, Altholz provided the attorney with a fake retainer agreement supposedly signed by Dr. Ghadimi. The retainer agreement falsely stated terms allowing Altholz to offset his legal fees against rent owed and re-invoice Dr. Ghadimi at a higher rate if terminated, but Dr. Ghadimi had never actually signed or authorized the document.

According to the charges, by knowingly providing the fabricated retainer agreement, Altholz committed acts of moral turpitude and intentional misrepresentation in violation of Business and Professions Code section 6106. In December 2021, Altholz also submitted the same fake agreement along with another fabricated one to the State Bar in response to its inquiry into Dr. Ghadimi’s complaint, allegedly committing further acts of dishonesty.

The Supreme Court’s order disbarring Altholz adopted the findings and conclusions of the State Bar Court. Altholz must now make restitution to Dr. Ghadimi. He is also required to comply with notification and winding-down requirements for clients. Additionally, the order imposes $5,000 in monetary sanctions payable to the State Bar Client Security Fund and requires Altholz to pay the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

The Disposition states:

“The court orders that Andrew Peter Altholz (Respondent), State Bar Number 152713, is disbarred from the practice of law in California and that Respondent’s name is stricken from the roll of attorneys.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Altholz was a litigation attorney in Santa Monica, California. He attended the Southwestern University School of Law. He acquired his law license in California in 1991.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.