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Ex-Lawyer Gets 1 Year in Jail for Bilking Client

Times Staff Writer

A former Agoura Hills attorney, who graduated third in his law school class and once was a clerk for a California appellate judge, was sentenced in Van Nuys Superior Court on Tuesday to a year in jail and 5 years on probation for bilking a client out of $92,000.

While on probation, Cary Alan Rosen, 45, the former lawyer, cannot possess blank checks or a bank account on which checks can be written, Superior Court Judge Richard A. Adler ruled.

Adler also ordered Rosen to complete restitution of the money he stole by paying $32,000 to Beber-Fizdale Associates, a 10-member general partnership of Southern California investors. Rosen already has repaid the group $60,000, authorities said.

Rosen pleaded no contest to grand theft in the case June 17, 1987. In exchange for his admission, prosecutors dropped a fraud charge and agreed to request no more than a year of jail time.

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In 1980, Rosen forged a signature on documents approving the sale of a Thousand Oaks apartment complex owned by Beber-Fizdale Associates, authorities said. The unauthorized sale was not discovered until 1986.

After Tuesday’s sentencing, Adler said it is not unusual to order a defendant to stay away from check-writing when forgery is involved.

Family members of the defrauded investors watched Rosen’s sentencing. “I don’t expect to get another cent,” said Elaine Berman, the daughter of one of the investors. “It’s like getting blood from a turnip. What really angers me is that all of his victims are old people--people who needed the money he stole.”

According to court records, Rosen said he has no way of raising more money.

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Rosen has been disbarred by the State Bar of California because of the grand-theft conviction. He also faces criminal prosecution on charges of cocaine possession and writing $1,500 in bad checks.

In a matter unrelated to the criminal complaints, Rosen has been ordered to pay a $13.8-million judgment for misappropriating payments for Alaskan oil and gas leases owned by more than 600 small investors. And, in another lawsuit, Rosen is alleged to have stolen $750,000 from a client.

In October, a warrant was issued for Rosen’s arrest when he failed to show up for a sentencing hearing. In November, he surrendered himself to authorities in Malibu Municipal Court. For the past month, Rosen--unable to post $500,000 bail--has been in county jail.

Rosen graduated near the top of his Loyola Law School class and was editor of the school’s first law review. After law school, Rosen was a clerk for Justice John J. Ford of the state Court of Appeal in Los Angeles. His classmates said they believed he was on a meteoric rise to the top of his profession.

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Since his 1987 no-contest plea, Rosen’s life “has been steadily moving in a downward spiral and has deteriorated both professionally and personally, and indeed tragically,” according to his probation report.


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