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Disbarred Attorney Gets 3-Year Sentence

October 15, 2003|Richard Marosi | Times Staff Writer

A disbarred attorney who worked in South Gate was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to taking money from clients despite having been stripped of her license.

Cristeta Paguirigan was convicted of three felony grand theft counts for performing legal work for three clients after her disbarment in 1998.

Eight other grand theft charges were dropped as part of the plea bargain agreement reached with prosecutors.

Paguirigan, who changed her name to Klaparda after her disbarment, played a prominent role in the government of former South Gate Treasurer Albert Robles. Despite having embezzlement and forgery convictions, Paguirigan was a key advisor to Robles until this year.

Paguirigan's lawyer, Trent Copeland, has said she was prosecuted because of her ties to Robles, whose administration is being investigated by local and federal authorities.

Deputy Dist. Attorney Bill Penzin said Paguirigan's victims predated her tenure in South Gate. They didn't know she had been disbarred until they read media reports about her role.

Paguirigan was charged with misrepresenting herself in labor law cases in 1999 and 2000. She is alleged to have taken $3,000 to $5,000 from each person.

Paguirigan is required to pay $32,000 restitution to 11 victims.

Penzin said Paguirigan had no choice but to plead guilty. "She had no defense. She took the money," he said.

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