San Luis Obispo attorney Stephen Ronca disbarred

August 29, 2019

The California State Bar has stripped a San Luis Obispo attorney of his law license following a bank fraud conviction and the lawyer’s alleged failure to comply with the terms of his legal probation. [Cal Coast Times]

In 2017, FBI agents arrested Stephen Ronca on 28 counts of wire fraud, which included allegations he stole approximately $250,000 from a client’s trust account to spend in casinos. Ronca transferred money from a client’s living trust into his own account. He also withdrew some of the money while at casinos in Las Vegas, South Lake Tahoe and Santa Ynez, according to a federal indictment.

Additionally, Ronca used property held in the trust as collateral for a loan. To pay off the loan, Ronca then sold the property located on Poinsettia Street in San Luis Obispo.

In late 2014 and early 2015, Ronca “executed a scheme to defraud a financial institution” that was attempting to foreclose on a San Luis Obispo property he owned, according to a plea agreement he reached with prosecutors. Ronca submitted a loan modification application in which he falsely claimed he was renting out the property for $4,500 per month. To support his false claim, Ronca fabricated a lease agreement in the name of a former client.

Ronca also fabricated two receipts that included forged signatures. Based on the “fraudulent documents,” the mortgage company granted the loan modification application and stopped foreclosure proceedings, according to the plea agreement.

As part of the plea deal, federal prosecutors agreed to drop 27 charges if Ronca pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. Ronca pleaded guilty and was convicted of a single count of bank fraud in June 2018.

The state Bar suspended Ronca’s license and placed him on disciplinary probation. Ronca then failed to participate in disciplinary proceedings, including ethics and client trust accounting courses, according to a Sate Bar ruling.

Ronca was formally disbarred on Aug. 9.

The San Luis Obispo attorney faced up to 30 years behind bars but was sentenced to just 90 days in prison. A federal magistrate also ordered Ronca to pay at least $483,000 in restitution.


SLO has too many lawyers, as it is


“I don’t think you can make a lawyer honest by an act of legislature. You’ve got to work on his conscience. And his lack of conscience is what makes him a lawyer.” – Will Rogers


Let’s see – thirty years in prison reduced to 90 days? Whom did he pay off with all that stolen money?


Why should this guy spend 30 years in prison living off the taxpayer—it costs an average of 80k a year to house one inmate—when his life is already destroyed, career gone and a half million dollar debt left to pay off? Seems like justice to me.


It’s called “repeat offender,” he’ll do it again and again, he’s already shown that by violating the previous probation. He himself destroyed his legal career, but guys like this are actually pretty smart and resourceful, he’ll reinvent himself and be off to do similar things again.

And forget about restitution – it’s a joke – I’ve been waiting 13 years for restitution from a hit and run that cost me $7000 and Probation could not care less. So he’ll serve 90 days in prison, make that 45 or 30 for good behavior, then he’s free to rip off more innocent people, like maybe your elderly parents…


Well lady, I’m already elderly so no chance of that. All I see here is an addict who needs help. We all have addictions, some with alcohol, food, smoking, drugs, work, etc. Obviously he had a terrible addiction to gambling. He’s a convicted felon now who will have start all over and he will be under the scrutiny of law enforcement for 3-5 years I’m guessing, although the story doesn’t mention probation, but I’m sure he has it. Why can’t we give him a second chance rather than locking him away? Maybe he will eventually do something to make amends. I’d rather lock up those who commit violent crimes rather than those that go astray because of addiction.