In an 18-page decision, a state bar court judge recommended
Svitlana Sangary be suspended for six months and remain on probation
for another 2-1/2 years for deceptive advertising and misconduct
stemming from an investigation of the photos.
The ruling, issued this month, is ultimately subject to review by
the State Supreme Court, which imposes such discipline.
Each of the photographs in question shows Sangary posing with
political figures or celebrities, including President Barack Obama,
former President Bill Clinton, and actors George Clooney, Leonardo
DiCaprio and Anne Hathaway.
"This court finds that many, and perhaps all, of these photos were
created by taking original celebrity photos and then overlaying
respondent's image in order to make it appear as though (she) was in
the presence of that celebrity," Judge Donald Miles wrote in his
He said the photos, posted beginning in December 2012, "were part of
an advertisement and solicitation for future work ... and they were
false, deceptive and intended to confuse, deceive and mislead the
public." Sangary has denied the allegations.
Although the link to the publicity page appears to have been
removed, some photos could still be accessed on Friday on the
The judge's ruling did not explain how allegations they were
fabricated came to the state bar's attention. But Miles said
"credible and persuasive expert testimony" presented at trial
convinced him the pictures had been doctored.
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Sangary, whose website advertises a practice specializing in dispute
resolution, business law and real estate litigation, declined by
email to directly address the allegations.
But she suggested she was in a position to pose for pictures with
prominent people through her political and philanthropic
"Nothing in my life is more valuable to me than realization of the
fact that I was able to come all the way from being an impoverished
kid in Ukraine to a major political and charitable donor in
California, and able to socialize and take pictures with the people
I've always admired," she said.
Sangary, a graduate of Pepperdine University law school, promised a
fuller reply to the ruling within 30 days.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)
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