SF Attorney Denies Defrauding Elderly Woman out of $157,000, Says He Has ‘Heart of Gold’. San Francisco attorney Drexel Bradshaw built his career in the courtroom. But he now finds himself at the center of his own trial that threatens to leave him barred from practicing law in California.
The State Bar, which investigates complaints concerning attorneys, charged Bradshaw with five counts of misconduct, alleging he “engaged in a scheme to defraud” an elderly client, Ora Gosey, out of more than $157,000.
SF Attorney Denies Defrauding Elderly Woman out of $157,000, Says He Has ‘Heart of Gold’
“They’ve made an allegation — it’s false,” said Bradshaw, who spoke exclusively to the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit. “My client’s money was used by and large for 24-hour home care.”
Bradshaw said he had never collected any money from Gosey’s trust.
The State Bar’s case against Bradshaw is expected to wrap up by mid-February. The judge in the case will then make a recommendation that would need to be approved by the California Supreme Court. Since this is not a criminal trial, the worst discipline Bradshaw faces is losing his license to practice law.
However, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has learned Bradshaw, his former handyman, and Bay Construction may now all be the subject of a criminal investigation, led by the Contractors State License Board. The government agency would neither confirm nor deny the criminal probe.
More than a decade ago, Gosey hired Bradshaw to help her create a trust account. She never married and did not have any children. In an unusual move, Gosey listed Bradshaw as one of the possible people to manage her money and home should anything happen to her. When she fell and injured herself four years ago, a court appointed Bradshaw in charge of her estate.
The State Bar accuses Bradshaw of funneling money from that trust into a company he helped create, Bay Construction. Bradshaw hired Bay Construction to do work on the elderly woman’s home while she was suffering from dementia.
“I don’t think that’s a conflict of interest,” Bradshaw said. “One of the repairs that was made was a flood, an emergency flood that happened on a weekend. All that work was done just to maintain the safety of the home.”
Bradshaw said he put the work out to bid but couldn’t find a single contractor willing to do the job.SF Attorney Denies Defrauding Elderly Woman out of $157,000, Says He Has ‘Heart of Gold’.
He says he’s never had any financial interest in Bay Construction, nor does he own any part of the company.
Bradshaw’s signature, however, appears on documents filed with the Secretary of State’s Office to form Bay Construction. According to Bradshaw, he was only acting in the capacity as an attorney for the person who actually owns the company, a handyman named Juan Gonzalez, who had previously done repair work at Bradshaw’s own home.
“He seemed to need a leg up,” Bradshaw said. “So I agreed to loan him a thousand dollars and help him get his contractor’s license.”
Bradshaw let his former handyman register the company to the same high-rise address as Bradshaw’s law firm. SF Attorney Denies Defrauding Elderly Woman out of $157,000, Says He Has ‘Heart of Gold’.
“I offered office space and allowed my receptionist to answer a phone for Bay Construction. The contractor would have meetings here in my conference room if it was not being used, and his mail showed up here. That was it,” Bradshaw said. “Bay Construction is and has always been owned 100 percent by Juan Gonzalez.”
But last month, in State Bar Court, Gonzalez testified he was under the impression he owned 49 percent of the company, while Bradshaw owned the other 51 percent. Bradshaw’s son, Colin Bradshaw, also worked for the business. Court documents show Bradshaw, his wife, his son, and his receptionist all had company credit cards in their names for Bay Construction.
Bradshaw said the arrangement helped the construction company get a five percent discount at Lowe’s. In court documents, Bradshaw said it was a “favor” to help his former handyman “succeed in his business.”
“It doesn’t make sense to me,” said Jeremiah Raxter, an attorney representing Delores Coleman, a relative of Ora Gosey. “It’s unusual to have a credit card in the name of a construction company that you have no interest in.”
Last June, Gosey passed away at 90 years old. Coleman stands to inherent money from that trust and is now suing to have Bradshaw stripped of all responsibility regarding the trust. The judge in that case has yet to weigh in on whether or not there was any wrongdoing, but just last month, he did remove Bradshaw as the trustee while the state bar pursues their own separate investigation into Bradshaw and possible fraud.
“Normally the state bar is this entity that is out there but doesn’t get involved,” Raxter said. “The fact that they filed charges against an attorney I think is telling.”