California traffic court attorney accused of abandoning clients after taking payment

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip KGO logo
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Clients accuse CA traffic lawyer of taking money, abandoning them
In his decades as a consumer reporter, Michael Finney has never seen a warning like this one from the State Bar.

DALY CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- A rare consumer alert from the California Bar Association about an attorney accused of abandoning clients who hired him to fight their traffic fines.

The Bar normally doesn't comment on an ongoing investigation. However, they felt this needed to be the exception.

The Highway Patrol clocked Carol Lozon going 102 miles per hour down 280 next to the "Flintstone House" in Hillsborough.

"It was a rental car," Lozon said as she chuckled. "It was a Ford Fusion. I don't see how I could have been going that fast."

Johnathan Gangale got nabbed for a red light violation in Daly City on Hickey and Gellert.

Then he missed his court date when he mistakenly thought the court was closed due to COVID-19.

"I was coming to a point in time where time was running out on me. I didn't have very many options," he said.

Both hired a legal firm known as California Traffic Defenders to get their cases dismissed or at least their fines reduced.

"All the reviews I saw were really good," said Lozon.

"The California Traffic Defenders was the number one local search in my local area," Gangale said.

Both paid several hundred dollars to retain the firm.

Lozon says she last heard from Traffic Defenders in October of 2020.

"I've called him up quite a few time, texted and I get no response. Now the numbers are disconnected," she said.

Gangale assumed the firm had contacted the court and was dealing with it.

When he didn't hear anything, he contacted the court himself.

"They told me nothing had been filed. That basically in the court's eyes, I was just in absentia -- a failure to appear and just completely disregarded the court legal process," he said.

He also learned the court had suspended his license.

In a recent statement about California Traffic Defenders and its alleged owner Robert Amparan, the State Bar of California said, "consumers need to be alerted" because of the "breadth and potential harm to the public."

"These complaints are serious matters warranting discipline. We are seeking to complete our investigation and take action as soon as possible," the Bar said in a statement.

Lozon says she will have to hire a new attorney.

"It was kind of pointless," she said about hiring California Traffic Defenders. "It was a waste of money, for one."

Gangale ended up paying a $2,000 fine to get his license suspension lifted.

He said there were no red flags prior to that.

"I thought I was in good hands. Truthfully," he said.

The State Bar of California stresses California Traffic Defenders and attorney Robert Amparan are presumed innocent and to date no charges have been filed pending a complete investigation. Amparan did not respond to our emails requesting comment.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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