State Seizes Fake Canoga Park Attorney’s Practice Using 22 Aliases to Cheat Customers – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
The California State Bar has seized client files belonging to a man posing as a lawyer for 25 years and allegedly used nearly two dozen aliases to collect thousands of dollars in legal fees from unsuspecting Los Angeles area victims.
The man identified on court records as Efferin Zembalist Deans, 54, of Lake Balboa, was arrested earlier this month for practicing law without a license.
Deans is fluent in Spanish and has a history of approaching Spanish speakers seeking legal assistance in Los Angeles County’s courthouses and then brazenly appearing in court on their behalf, the State Bar said in a statement late last week. After appearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, a judge reported the alleged farce to the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel in late August.
“The illicit exercise of rights poses a serious threat to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona. “It’s a crime too. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to address this threat. “
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office earlier this month charged Deans with triple theft and practicing the legal profession without serving on the prosecutor’s office. He remains in Los Angeles County Jail on $ 176,000 bail.
From January 2019 to September 2021, Deans allegedly claimed to own the Law Offices of Deans & Associates in Canoga Park.
In addition to appearing in court, Dean allegedly filed court documents and provided business cards to court staff and victims to bolster his position as a lawyer in order to receive legal fees.
“Exercising the law without a license in California is illegal, unfair to the unsuspecting client, and can cause irreparable damage to the client’s case,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.
Dean’s criminal history dates back to 1996 and includes at least two identity theft convictions for attorneys posing as attorneys. He was also convicted of two cases of creating false documentary evidence and one case of perjury by declaration, all crimes.
Court records detailing a 1997 conviction state that when he was arrested he was jailed as Kenneth Aslan, a name he stole from a Ventura County attorney.
In a 2007 news story, the real-life Kenneth Aslan said he met Deans in the early 1990s and exchanged business cards with him. According to Aslan, Deans used his attorney number to file cases over the next decade, which resulted in Aslan receiving calls about cases he had never heard of.
Aslan said Deans presented himself as Aslan to potential clients he met in courthouses. Deans allegedly even gave Aslan’s name to bail Bondmen after he was arrested in 2003, which resulted in police showing up at Aslan’s house in the middle of the night.
“I thought I was being robbed, but it was really just the police looking for him,” said Aslan.
After Deans was arrested in 1996, the police found papers with Aslan’s name in Dean’s briefcase and thought he might have killed Aslan.
“The police showed up at the house and asked my children if they saw me that day or not,” Aslan said.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge last week issued an injunction allowing the State Bar to confiscate Dean’s client files and past client records from its San Fernando Valley offices. Customers or former customers wishing to return their files can contact the prosecutor’s bilingual phone number at 213-765-1766.