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Disbarred San Diego Attorney Misused $2M in Charitable Funds, Becerra Claims

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra testifies in Washington in September. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ ALM

Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed petitions against a disbarred San Diego-area attorney, demanding that he account for more than $2 million in charitable trust funds under his control.

The petitions, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, seek Earl N. Feldman's removal as a trustee for the Maury and Lillian Novak charitable trust and the Yvonne Mitchell charitable trust.

Becerra's office alleges Feldman spent money from the funds on personal travel, furniture and insurance between 2010 and 2015 instead of directing the money to charities.

In a statement, Becerra said that during an investigation by his office, Feldman paid back "some of the funds" but retained over $700,000 and failed to account for that money. The attorney general's action asks the court to order Feldman to explain where all the money went, and the petition seeks the recovery of "all amounts converted, lost, and/or improperly disbursed or withheld by him," plus interest.

Becerra's office is also asking the court to bar Feldman from ever serving again as a trustee.

Feldman did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday.

Feldman, a resident of Del Mar, was disbarred in July 2017. Feldman did not fight disciplinary charges that alleged he improperly disbursed $882,600 from the Novak Trust to himself and falsely reported to the Internal Revenue Service that the trust had donated $535,757 to charities.

"The California Department of Justice will protect donors and charities who follow the law," Becerra said in a statement. "And we will prosecute those who cheat and think they can get away with it.”