The State Bar of California, while performing its due diligence during an investigation of Attorney Steele Lanphier, failed to uncover extremely pertinent information that should be a matter of public record.
A dozen years ago, Lanphier was experiencing financial difficulties when he was approached by Luis Vargas, a convicted drug dealer that served time in Federal prison. Vargas claims to be related to nefarious members of a Mexican Mafia-led drug cartel. He has been heard stating that he has millions of dollars readily available and is known for routinely lying to anyone for any reason to elicit even more money. Vargas is a self-proclaimed -gangster-; he recruited Lanphier by advancing him a large sum of money to pay off his personal debts as well as additional funds to allow him to promote and advertise his law firm. Vargas insisted that his girlfriend, Norma Guzman, handle all monetary transactions and perform legal duties within Lanphier’s firm. Vargas directs Ms. Guzman to falsify amounts on their 2016 statement to avoid detection by Lanphier. Ultimately, Vargas gained complete authority of all business aspects of the firm and makes all the decisions while Lanphier makes none; even though he had entered into an equitable financial fee-split arrangement with Lanphier, Vargas insisted on pilfering even more money from the firm. Vargas has brazenly stated -I am the the (expletive) owner, I am (expletive) Lanphier.- In partnership with some non-attorney -associates-, including David Silva and Caesar (last name unknown), Vargas has managed to gain complete control and administration of Lanphier’s firm. As of this writing, Lanphier Law Firm is under investigation by both Federal Authorities and the California State bar for misappropriation of trust fund monies.
Vargas is both a user and supplier of illegal steroids, methamphetamine and other narcotics. He routinely threatens and intimidates anyone who questions or fails to follow his orders. Lanphier is in fear of unpredictable retribution from Vargas as he believes him to be not only capable, but more than willing, to carry out his threats of physical harm. Luis Vargas has several aliases, including, but not limited to, Joseph Guzman and Joseph Lopez. Together with his girlfriend, Norma Guzman, they own several trust accounts, solely for the purpose of veiling their funds from Electronic Data Discovery and the Internal Revenue Service. Vargas and others are routinely paid in cash to avoid detection by the State Bar and the IRS. It is entirely unfortunate that Steele Lanphier chose NOT to testify truthfully at State Bar Proceedings, ultimately giving his consent to this criminal enterprise that is an obvious formidable threat to the general public.