By Robert J. Hansen
SACRAMENTO, CA – The heiress of furniture maker John Breuner, who made all the desks in the California Capitol Building, was left penniless after being represented by Orange County attorney Kenneth Catanzarite, she claims.
“He advised, in writing, I sell the home I was living in, to him, to protect it from foreclosure because another bank (KeyBank) was in the process of illegally foreclosing on my Sun Valley, Idaho, property, which had been sold,” Deborah Breuner-Davis said.
Catanzarite has been extensively reported on by the Vanguard and the California State Bar’s refusal to discipline the attorney after several complaints have been filed by multiple people.
Breuner-Davis said she had to take out loans on her Steamboat Springs, Colorado, home to keep her business going and be able to eat.
The home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was worth roughly $2 million and fully paid for before it was signed over to Catanzarite after representing her in 2006.
“My partner and I were homeless and penniless for ten years after our business was destroyed by Catanzarite,” Breuner-Davis said.
Breuner-Davis says her reputation is destroyed now, along with everything else.
“Catanzarite is solely responsible for the defamation of my once great character by not following through with the lawsuits he took on making it look like I merely lost, when he in fact never did anything, but get a partial summary judgment, which he obtained seeing money signs for him in the settlement that would peruse,” she said.
Breuner-Davis complained to the California State Bar in 2009 about Catanzarite for taking nearly $5 million in real estate and trust funds as part and parcel of a retainer agreement.
She also alleged Catanzarite stripped her of her equity, that the agreement was not fair and reasonable, and alleged he did not provide her with reasonable opportunity to consult independent counsel.
The State Bar responded to Breuner-Davis in Nov. 2009 saying it reviewed the documentation provided, the various emails, the retainer, Mr. Catanzarite’s response, and the arbitrator’s decision.
“Applying the unique facts to the law and the likelihood of our office obtaining a finding of culpability, it is our view that we would not be successful in either obtaining a finding against Mr. Catanzarite or obtaining any discipline against him,” the State Bar told her.
After posting her story on her blog, the State Bar reached out and suggested she file another complaint against Catanzarite.
“Please file a new complaint with our office of intake and that is the only way our office can look into it further,” John Noonen, with the State Bar, wrote to Breuner-Davis in 2010.
She filed another complaint just last year.
The Complaint Review Unit received her correspondence on April 21, 2022, requesting reconsideration of the decision to close her complaint.
“An attorney reviewed all the information provided and has determined that there is not a sufficient basis to recommend reopening your complaint,” the letter read.
The State Bar also said in the letter that the State Bar Court is authorized to impose or recommend disciplinary sanctions only if there is clear and convincing evidence to establish that the attorney has committed a violation.
“The Complaint Review Unit will not recommend that a matter be reopened unless there is a reasonable possibility that a disciplinary violation can be proven by clear and convincing evidence,” the letter reads.
The State Bar told Breuner-Davis the recent complaint restates many of the allegations she previously made against Catanzarite while he represented her until 2006.
“Since these allegations were investigated and addressed in a previous complaint which was closed on November 10, 2009, they will not be addressed in this letter,” the State Bar said.
Breuner-Davis submitted to the Bar another Order issued by the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, sanctioning Catanzarite, which the Vanguard has reported.
“The California State Bar has decided they just don’t have the resources to handle this criminal, while I live in the mud because of what this attorney did to me,” Breuner-Davis said.
Breuner-Davis said she and her partner have been living in an apartment since 2021 only after her partner developed an illness and she became his caregiver.
“I get paid by Medicaid to take care of him,” she said.
Earlier reporting by the Vanguard also reported on a May 2022 email from State Bar Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona to Chair of the State Bar Board of Trustees Ruben Duran explaining why the Bar has taken no disciplinary actions against Catanzarite.
Breuner-Davis thinks the State Bar’s failure to discipline Catanzarite makes it complicit if not culpable.