Updated January 26, 2022 - 6:26 am
Attorney Bradley Bellisario has been accused of stalking his ex-wife — twice.
He’s accused of telling another man that his cartel clients will give him a “Colombian bowtie.”
He’s accused of threatening a female prosecutor.
But it’s allegations that the Las Vegas personal injury lawyer bilked his clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could cost him his law license.
Bellisario — who is represented by Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s son Ross Goodman — has been arrested at least five times and has filed so many lawsuits that two separate District Court judges have declared him a “vexatious litigant.”
A Nevada State Bar investigation also found that more than $260,000 of client funds have been misappropriated since 2019, leaving Bellisario’s clients without proper proceeds and in medical debt.
Bellisario was temporarily suspended in June. This month, the bar filed a recommendation of disbarment to the state’s highest court, which is expected to rule on it later this year.
“Bellisario posed a substantial threat of serious harm to the public,” Daniel Hooge, the state’s chief bar counsel over lawyer discipline, told the Review-Journal in a written statement. “The State Bar’s investigation found that Bellisario had misappropriated client funds.”
The state bar is also investigating Bellisario for three other matters that are not yet public record, Hooge said.
In a written statement, Bellisario said the allegations against him were false and that a lengthy and significant history of events has been excluded from the current narrative.
Goodman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
During a November court hearing, Goodman told District Judge Crystal Eller that his client is suffering permanent consequences.
“He’s not practicing law anymore. His children have been taken away from him — he can’t be in their lives anymore,” Goodman said.
A volatile divorce case
Bellisario, 36, posted on his LinkedIn profile that he attended high school and received his undergraduate degree in Illinois.
He got his law degree from the UNLV Boyd Law School and received his Nevada law license in December 2014, Nevada State Bar records show. He worked as a law clerk at the Justice Law Center and as an insurance defense lawyer before opening the Bellisario Law firm in 2015, according to LinkedIn.
He and his ex-wife, Emily Cardona, married Aug. 15, 2014, in Sandy, Utah, and have three children, ages 7, 5 and 3. But after he and Cardona separated in 2019, he began to have his own legal troubles.
What followed was a cascade of arrests, lawsuits and protective orders from the court.
On Sept. 16, 2019, Bellisario allegedly broke into Cardona’s home and destroyed several TVs, furniture and lighting fixtures, a Metropolitan Police Department report states.
Cardona told officers that her then-husband had knocked down the door to her bedroom, grabbed her shoulders and pushed her against their baby’s crib in front of their 4-year-old son.
Bellisario was arrested the next day and faced charges of home invasion, stalking and battery.
Bellisario served a 90-day suspended sentence for the battery charge, according to Las Vegas Justice Court records. He underwent counseling and performed 24 hours of community service. Once the requirements were met, the entire case was dismissed, as part of negotiations with prosecutors.
On June 22, 2020, Cardona reported to police that Bellisario had come to her home and smashed his Ford F-150 into two cars, the garage door and a light pole, court records state.
At the time, she was at the park with their three kids.
“We’re like running to the car because I was thinking at any moment he could show up at the park and kill me there,” she testified, according to grand jury transcripts.
She took the children to her father’s house, where they stayed while Cardona’s father defended them with a shotgun against Bellisario, who later showed up at the home’s gate, the transcripts state.
In connection with that event, Bellisario was indicted on charges of malicious destruction of property and stalking Cardona between Jan. 1, 2020, and July 26, 2020.
He pleaded not guilty, and the case has been continued until later this year.
In Bellisario’s written statement to the Review-Journal, he said the allegations are part of a scheme by his ex-wife against him.
“I will trust the legal process to resolve allegations as more information becomes available,” he wrote.
The couple’s divorce was finalized in December, and Cardona was granted sole custody of their kids.
Through her attorney, Amanda Roberts, Cardona declined to comment on this story. Roberts also declined to comment.
Bellisario has filed several lawsuits against those involved in his divorce and criminal proceedings, including a Clark County prosecutor, Cardona, her attorneys and others, accusing them of defrauding the court.
A police report states that on July 30 he sent Deputy District Attorney Brianna Lamanna an email and asked her to settle with him for $100,000.
“Given the county’s refusal to help when I’ve contacted police, DA’s, etc. and your insistence on perpetuating the lies of my ex that you know are false, I will be aggressively pursuing this matter against you,” Bellisario wrote, in part. “I look forward to hearing from you. Good luck with your little one.”
He has been charged with one count of sending a threatening letter for referencing her child and pleaded not guilty, court records show. Lamanna is no longer prosecuting his stalking case.
After numerous civil cases were filed, judges have instructed Bellisario not to file further lawsuits against those involved in his criminal and divorce case without an attorney and permission from the court.
In October, Bellisario was charged with stalking again, this time by a friend of his ex-girlfriend. After the woman ended her relationship with Bellisario, he began to believe Jason Elleman and the woman had been having an affair, a Metro police report states.
Elleman told police this was not true, but still, he had been harassed with text messages and phone calls from Bellisario, who called him 28 times within two hours.
The police report quotes one text message that reads, “I’m a lawyer with drug trafficker clients that I’ve told it’s not my problem. Enjoy the Columbian bow tie (expletive). You won’t survive.”
A “Colombian necktie” is a form of mutilation in which the victim’s tongue is pulled through a slit in the throat, police said.
The badgering continued after Bellisario left numerous negative reviews on Elleman’s work Yelp page dating back to 2016, the report states. He is also accused of creating fake social media profiles to contact Elleman and publicly posting his home address.
During the November court hearing, Goodman defended his client for what he called alcohol-induced rants.
“There was no affirmative action,” he said. “It’s somebody behind a keyboard who’s pissed off, who’s sending text messages.”
Elleman was granted a temporary protective order against Bellisario, who has pleaded not guilty in the case.
“I don’t trust anybody anymore,” Elleman told the Review-Journal. “I’m just constantly worried and paranoid. I want my right back to having a normal life.”
Misuse of client funds
Bellisario practiced personal injury law, divorce and medical malpractice, and his business profile on Yelp included the slogan: “Hurt Badly, Call Bradley!”
The Nevada State Bar investigation found that dozens of Bellisario’s clients have been missing money — and they still owe thousands in medical bills that were supposed to be paid off by their settlement.
In November, he was charged with one count of felony theft after two of his clients told police he stole part of a $25,000 settlement from a 2019 car accident, Las Vegas justice court records show.
Bellisario has yet to issue a plea in that case, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 10.
Another client, Stacie Klein, said she hired Bellisario in 2016 after the death of her brother, Jaceson Klein.
She filed a complaint with the Nevada Bar stating that Bellisario stopped attending court hearings and has not returned her brother’s belongings, including a valuable ring and a Range Rover. She estimated she has lost nearly $30,000.
“There are no words for this. It’s a nightmare. It’s mentally draining,” she told the Review-Journal.
Bellisario denied any wrongdoing.
The state bar also found that in less than one week, $56,000 from Bellisario’s client trust fund was deposited into his personal account.
In 2020, his client Christine Heath was awarded a $125,000 settlement after a car accident, the documents state. Personally, Heath received $32,000.
But instead of paying her medical bills from the accident, Bellisario gave himself substantially more attorney’s fees and paid off a personal loan, according to the findings.
During a hearing Oct. 27, Heath testified to the state bar that she still faces debt and collectors.
“He told me many times that he sent over the check to them, he doesn’t know why they don’t have it,” she testified. “That’s when he tells me he’ll get me the information. But he never did and then he went MIA.”
In July 2020, Bellisario received $65,000 to settle the personal injury claims for Minervo-Felipe Aguilar, his father and his brother. The three were given $14,348 total, but Bellisario never paid their medical bills and stopped responding to them, bar records state.
In April 2020, Bellisario received $25,000 to settle the personal injury claims of client Andrew DeJong. He didn’t disburse the proceeds or communicate with his client regarding the settlement, the state bar found.
A recommendation for disbarment was filed Jan. 4, and the Nevada Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on it within six months.
Bellisario never responded to the bar’s repeated correspondence about its investigation, records state. He did, however, send an email April 5 regarding his membership dues, according to the documents.
“I have no desire to be a part of an organization that refuses to protect its own members from crime perpetrated by other members of that organization,” he wrote.
The Nevada Secretary of State website shows his business has been dissolved.
Contact Briana Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.
A previous version of this story incorrectly described what sentence Bellisario received on a battery charge.