Santa Maria attorney accused of defrauding a client to pay for her lavish lifestyle

July 7, 2021

Debbie Morawski


A Santa Maria attorney is facing 13 felony charges after she allegedly embezzled more than $400,000 from an elderly client which she then used to fund her lavish lifestyle. A judge on Tuesday awarded her client’s beneficiaries more than $1.4 million in a related civil case.

While overseeing the Delta Campbell Family Trust, attorney Debbie Morawski allegedly used her client’s money to pay for personal expenses including a trip to Mexico, her son’s private school, her mother’s medical bills, multiple Amazon purchases and a $500 sushi dinner. The oddest personal expense charged to her client’s trust was a payment of $3,000 to the State Bar for fines related to a previous breach of fiduciary duty.

During the civil litigation and criminal investigation, Morawski ran for a seat on the Santa Maria Airport District Board, and her husband opened a restaurant, the Salty Brigade Kitchen, in Santa Maria.

Santa Barbara County prosecutors recently charged Morawski with one count of fraud, one count of elder abuse, two counts of embezzlement, one count of falsifying evidence and eight counts of money laundering. The alleged theft spanned from April 2016 through July 2019.

On Feb. 16, 2016, a physician at a residential care facility, Thomas David MD, deemed Delta Campbell mentally disabled. Morawski then used David’s report to take control of Campbell’s trust, according to the civil suit. After gaining control of the trust, Morawski failed to pay Campbell’s bills, file taxes or inform the beneficiaries of the trust about her actions.

Following Campbell’s death on Sept. 13, 2017, her three daughters attempted to review records of the trust, which Morawski refused to allow, according to the lawsuit. They then hired Arroyo Grande attorney Dennis Balsamo to remove Morawski as trustee.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge James Rigali awarded Balsamo’s clients $1,437,318 on July 6 for the total cost of the embezzlement, along with attorney fees and court costs, according to court documents. Morawski, an officer of the court, failed to attend all but one of the hearings, failed to provide discovery and failed to attend her deposition.

At a July 2 arraignment hearing on the criminal charges, Morawski requested a public defender. She is scheduled back in court for an arraignment hearing on July 9.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Attorneys who betray the client’S trust must be permanently barred from the Bar, no9t to mention sever punishment under criminal law.

The family will not recover s**t (and the taxpayer pays for her defense), and yes this happens all the time. The senior care industry is rife with corruption and when they see a target ($$$) they strike. When I hear the ads on the radio stations I have to change the channel, lest I puke while driving. I have seen these people at work in hospitals where elderly patients are being discharged.

Sounds like the local version of fellow Progressive attorney, Michael Avenatti. May she do the maximum time for this crime. No wonder we think so lowly of attorneys.

When one rises to the surface like this, all other Lawyers should step up and crush it like a rat. Until that is the norm, assume that they are all scumbags.

These scumbags who prey on the elderly who quite often don’t have the mental awareness to stop them have a special place in hell waiting for them. I hope she gets some real prison time.

This must be why California needs to lower the passing level for the bar exam???? To me it looks like it should be raised.

I can hear her colleagues saying, ” what an embarrassment to the Bar”, getting caught is the second strike and the third strike, “not being able to defend your actions” results in Morawski who?

Somehow she seems well suited for elected office.

District 3 supervisor?