My name is Patty Ritchie. I am a paralegal and have been working for attorneys in Solano and Napa counties for over 25 years. I have been working for Glen DeRonde for the last four years. Ken Bird had been a long-time friend and client of Mr. DeRonde. Mr. DeRonde most recently represented him in a divorce action in Solano County Superior Court Case Case No. FFL093727. I feel compelled to write this letter to tell the true facts of this matter in response to the false accusations being made against Mr. DeRonde and DeRonde & DeRonde (a defunct law practice operated by Mr. DeRonde and his brother) for “fraud” and “embezzlement” by Ken’s daughters, Mary Donahue and Donalee King (who also identify themselves on internet blogs as SCREWumBACK, D. King, L. King, LaDona Moore, Lawdona411, and Givn U the real SCOOP). I feel that it is necessary that I share with the public what these sisters’ true objective is by their own written admissions to this office, and expose them for who and what they truly are.
Prior to posting this letter on the internet, I confirmed that I am not violating any attorney/client privilege, as that privilege was waived by Ken’s daughters when they waged their campaign to defame Glen DeRonde, DeRonde & DeRonde, and myself through their postings on the worldwide web.
In June 2008, after several attempts by this office to contact Ken to discuss a recently received ruling in his case, we received a very nasty fax from a “D. King,” letting us know that her dad, Ken Bird, had passed away. She further demanded that this office do no further work on her father’s case and advised that she would be by the office to pick up all of her father’s files. In response, I transcribed and sent a letter from Mr. DeRonde on June 23, 2008, which stated, in part: “As your father was a friend of mine, please consider your father’s account with me as paid in full. Finally, I will honor your wishes, as his representative, and do no further work on the case. I am sorry for your father’s passing and render my condolence to you and your family. Please contact my office to make arrangements to pick up your father’s file.” When she presented herself to the office a day or two later, I introduced myself to her and told her how sorry we all were to learn that her dad had passed on. She was very aloof towards me, and demanded that I immediately provide her with a full accounting of all monies that her father had paid to our office. I told her that I would get the information to her as soon as possible. As soon as she left, I proceeded to compile the information she requested. To ensure that all of the information was accurate, I reviewed all of the office’s check registers, going through each and every payment received from Ken since November 2006 when he retained our office to represent him in his divorce case. In doing so, I found that there was a payment from Ken in may 2007 that had been overlooked. I entered that payment into the billing system, and on July 9, 2008, I forwarded the historical billing to Mary Donahue (who we were informed was the executrix of her father’s estate) along with a letter informing her of the oversight. The following is an excerpt from that letter:
“In reviewing the enclosed documents, I found that an error occurred in May 2007 due to a payment in the amount of $4,396.52 not being credited to your father’s account. This resulted when your father deposited into our trust account the sum of $39,724.79 on May 18, 2007. At your father’s request, on May 22, 2007, we wrote a check to him from that account in the sum of $35,328.27, holding back $4,396.52 as payment on his outstanding balance at the time. Thereafter, on June 26, 2007, your father deposited the sum of $9,000 into trust. Instead of crediting the entire $9,000 as a reserve for future services to be rendered in his case, he was only credited with $4,603.48 -- the remaining $4,396.52 being applied, once again, to the past balance. This was an error on my part, as during that time I was undergoing cancer treatments. My involvement with the office was limited to my coming into the office once a month to prepare the billing statements and, therefore, I was not here to handle the processing of this transaction with your father. As a result, I did not credit to your father’s account those funds held back on May 22, 2007 in the amount of $4,396.52, for it did not show as a separate payment to his account (i.e., a check from your father in the amount of $4,396.51). Please accept my sincere apology for this inadvertent oversight on my part, which I only caught today when, upon seeing that there was a discrepancy in the figures, I reviewed your father’s account. Applying this overpayment to the $8,379.99 reflected on your father’s June 17, 2008 billing statement would leave an adjusted balance due of $3,983.47, a difference of $587.25 from the amount reflected ($3,396.22) in the accounting information enclosed. In any event, as stated in Mr. DeRonde’s letter to you and your sister dated June 23, 2008, your father’s account with this office has been adjusted to a zero balance and closed out.”
Unfortunately, Ken had an ongoing pattern of allowing his bill to accrue to thousands of dollars before paying, and the $587.25 difference referred to in my letter to Mary Donahue can be attributed to interest that had accrued on the account. If applying the missed payment to Ken’s account would have resulted in an overpayment, a check would have been written from this office to Ken’s estate in whatever amount Ken had overpaid. But, it didn’t. Instead, it resulted in Ken still owing a balance on his account. However, rather than filing a creditor’s claim against the estate, Mr. DeRonde instructed me to consider the debt paid in full and to zero out Ken’s account.
Shortly after I mailed my letter to Mary Donahue, this office received a two and a half page letter from Donalee King containing very hateful and derogatory comments about Mr. DeRonde and myself. The opening paragraph of that letter reads:
“At first your law firm just appeared incompetent. Upon closer inspection of my father’s case, that incompetence appears more like malpractice. Reading the letter referred to above, it is painfully obvious that the situation has quickly digressed into blatant dishonesty, possible fraud and misappropriation of my father’s funds.”
The sisters were evidently of the opinion that since Mr. DeRonde had stated in his 06/23/08 letter that he had forgiven the amount Ken owed prior to the time they received the historical billing, the missed payment should have been refunded to them, as she added in her letter that “at the time you accidentally discovered the alleged error in your favor of $4,396.52, my father’s bill with your office was ZERO. That money should have been refunded at the time of your 7/9/08 letter, but of course, it was not.” She also noted that she saw Mr. DeRonde forgiving her dad’s account balance as “a rather transparent effort to ‘cover’ your misdeeds with even more falsehoods in order to maintain the status quo of your inept efforts all around in the Bird vs. Bird matter.”
She finished up her letter by stating: “Something you and your office had a hand in nearly destroying: My father’s dream of leaving a little something to give to his surviving children. ... If you ever were a true friend to my father I believe you would have stepped up instead of hiding behind the alleged errors of your staff . . . . You have one last opportunity to do so now. . . . I/we are committed to seeing this through to whatever conclusion fate would have in store . . . . There is no doubt in my mind that you are fully aware of what is wrong here, it is simply a question of whether you choose to make it right or prefer to place us in the position of forcing you to do the right thing here. Your call.”
Her words lead us to believe that this was nothing but a shakedown, so we contacted law enforcement authorities and did not respond to her threats. As a result, on July 18, 2008, our office received a fax from Donalee King that simply read “Time is up!” What occurred thereafter is that which you see plastered all over the internet by these two women -- a violent verbal attack against Mr. DeRonde, the firm of DeRonde & DeRonde, and myself. Although we have contacted all of the consumer internet sites that are posting these malicious accusations and requested that they stop doing so, the responses that we have received have all stated that the sites have the right to post the material, they are not responsible for any content of the postings, and advising that we should “respond” to the complaint. At least one of the sites forwarded Mr. DeRonde’s request to Donalee King, and she responded with a threat that read “The real fun will begin (I hope) very soon. Until then get used to seeing the consequences of your reprehensible behavior plastered on Google.”
During the time that this office represented Ken, he never complained about the quality of the service that he was being given. He was always jovial with the staff when he came in, and we all made time to come out and say hello to with him during his visits. He was not a frail little old man as his daughters try to depict him to the public. He had always been a very robust man, large in stature (stocky and in excess of 6 feet tall), and very loud and spirited. When he fell ill, it quickly took its toll on his body (but not his mind), and when I last saw him in February of this year, he had become pale and was easily winded. All persons in this office knew that Mr. DeRonde considered Ken a friend, and Ken would relay stories to our staff about his affiliation with Mr. DeRonde during the 1970's when he represented him in other matters. Just six months prior to Ken’s death, we invited him to an intimate Christmas party at our office, which he attended with his brother. He sat with all of us and visited while he ate, drank, and enjoyed the evening. However, Ken ceased communicating with our office after he called me on April 1, 2008 wanting to make an appointment with Mr. DeRonde concerning criminal charges that had been filed against him. I had responded to Ken with a message from Mr. DeRonde that he no longer handled criminal matters and that he could no longer continue to do work for Ken without being paid (Ken had not made a payment on his account for several months and owed thousands of dollars as a result of Mr. DeRonde’s preparation for and appearance at the trial in Ken’s divorce case in October 2007). Ken seemed very angry with Mr. DeRonde after I relayed that message to him and would not return any of our calls thereafter.
Considering the good relationship that Ken had with Mr. DeRonde since the 1970's, and his friendly familiarity with our office staff, we were all blind sided by the viciousness displayed towards our office by Mary Donahue and Donalee King (neither of whom anyone in this office had ever met prior to Ken’s passing) and the harassing tactics that they are using to try to get Mr. DeRonde to“refund” to them the money that their dad paid for legal services so that they can have an “inheritance.” So, I would like to say to our existing clients who have read the hateful blogs about us posted on the internet by these women, and to those persons who might be in need of the services of an experienced and fair attorney in the future, please read between the lines written by Donalee King and Mary Donahue, and try to consider the source and these womens’ true intentions.