August 15, 2009 Disciplinary Actions

first_imgDisciplinary Actions Prepared by The Florida Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department August 15, 2009 Disciplinary Actions August 15, 2009 Disciplinary Actionscenter_img The Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 47 attorneys.The following lawyers are disciplined: Guy B. Bailey, Jr., 3250 Mary St., Suite 100, Miami, disbarred, effective June 13, following an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1966) Bailey issued trust account checks to a client that were returned because of insufficient funds. He also failed to preserve client funds in accordance with Florida Bar rules regulating trust accounts. (Case No. SC09-698) Scott Wilson Barger, P.O. Box 228654, Miami, disbarred, effective immediately, following an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Barger failed to preserve and apply client funds entrusted to him for a real estate transaction. (Case No. SC09-630) Charles Behm, P.O. Box 10, Pomona Park, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Behm’s handling of two guardianship cases was incompetent. His pattern of behavior caused delays in the cases as well as additional costs for the clients. Behm failed to respond in writing for 19 months to the Bar’s inquiries about allegations against him. (Case No. SC08-85) Marni Blayne Belkin, 777 E. Atlantic Ave., Suite C2-249, Delray Beach, suspended until further notice, following an April 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) In January, Belkin pleaded guilty in federal court, to one court of conspiracy to file a false loan application, a felony. (Case No. SC09-720) Elizabeth Aileen Broome, 1004 E. Jackson St., Pensacola, disbarred for five years effective immediately, following a June 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Broome was further ordered to pay restitution in the amount of more than $45,000 to 14 clients. In January, Broome was felony suspended by the Bar. She was found guilty in court of 13 counts of grand theft. In several instances, Broome took legal fees but failed to provide legal services. She also misappropriated and commingled client trust funds. ( Case Nos. SC07-206, SC07-1386, SC07-2282 and SC09-62). Diane P. Caggiano, 5 Houghton Road, Hyannis, Mass., suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a May 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Caggiano was also a member of the Massachusetts Bar. In three separate instances, Caggiano failed to properly represent clients. She failed to communicate with clients, ignoring letters and not returning calls. In one case, Caggiano failed to inform her client that the claim against one defendant had been dismissed, that a motion for summary judgment had been filed or that she had possibly sued the wrong defendants. (Case No. SC08-1372) J. Rod Cameron, 5089 Highway 90, Pace, received a public reprimand following a May 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Cameron failed to properly represent a client in a worker’s compensation suit in 2003. When the client died a year later, the case had not yet been settled. Cameron mistakenly believed that he was entitled to pursue the case on behalf of the estate and the personal representative. (Case No. SC08-1766) A. Clark Cone, 8607 Wendy Lane E., West Palm Beach, disbarred for five years effective immediately, following a May 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) Cone was suspended by the Florida Supreme Court in March. Cone misappropriated thousands of dollars in client funds, he intentionally made false statements to The Florida Bar during the course of a disciplinary investigation, failed to communicate with clients, and failed to respond to the grievance committee’s subpoena. (Case Nos. SC08-946 and SC09-614) Gregory R. Deal, 312 W. Graham Park Circle, Haines City, disbarred effective immediately, following a May 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1971) Deal was placed on emergency suspension in January by the Florida Supreme Court. Deal used client funds for his own purposes and he improperly commingled attorney and client funds to prevent his former wife from obtaining funds to which she was entitled. In October 2008, Deal’s trust account had a shortage of more than $65,000, created by Deal writing checks to himself. (Case No. SC09-163) Ryan Thomas Dosen, 108 Twin Creek Lane, Kennett Square, Pa., suspended until further order, following a June 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) According to the emergency suspension order, Dosen appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating and/or diverting funds entrusted to him. The Florida Bar’s investigation indicated that Dosen engaged in numerous fraudulent real estate transactions. (Case No. SC09-1102) Peter Dale Fellows, 99 WNW 183rd Street, Suite 130A, Miami, received a public reprimand following an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Fellows is further ordered to attend ethics school. Fellows was retained in October 2005 to represent clients in a lawsuit but he failed to maintain adequate communication with them. The couple subsequently hired a new attorney after being dissatisfied with Fellows and the progress on the case. (Case No. SC09-653) Philip Frank Filosa, 2396 Jasmine Way, North Port, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a June 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) In October 2008, Filosa received a public reprimand in Massachusetts, where he was also a member of the bar. Filosa prepared a document that resulted in him receiving a substantial bequest from a person to whom he was not related. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island censured Filosa in November 2008 based on the Massachusetts sanction. (Case No. SC08-2214) Brooke Eugene Fisher, 500 S. Australian Ave., Suite 600, West Palm Beach, disbarred effective immediately, following a July 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Fisher was placed on emergency suspension in September 2008. Based on three separate complaints, a Florida Bar investigation and audit found substantial shortages in the trust account and the intentional misappropriation of client funds. (Case No: SC08-2211) Andrew Stuart Forman, P.O. Box 47121, Tampa, suspended until further order, following a June 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) According to the emergency suspension order, Forman has caused serious harm to the public. He represented a small business lending corporation, receiving $308,000 in trust to be used to fund a bid at a foreclosure sale. The client was not the successful bidder, so the money was not used and should have been returned. Forman removed the money from his trust account and failed to return the funds to his client. (Case No. SC09-875) Mitchell Eric Fox, 950 S. Pine Island Road, Suite A15, Plantation, suspended until further order following a May 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) According to the emergency suspension order, Fox appeared to be causing great public harm. The Florida Bar’s compliance audit based on eight complaints found that Fox misappropriated client funds, commingled his own funds with funds held in trust and failed to maintain minimum trust account records. (Case No. SC09-811) Howard Seth Gaines, 2901 Clint Moore Road, PMB 271, Boca Raton, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from an April 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1978) In December 2008, in U.S. District Court, Gaines was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud, felonies. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $422,465 to three victims. (Case No. SC09-681) Mark S. Gallegos, 9130 S. Dadeland Blvd., Suite 1209, Miami, reprimanded and placed on probation for one year, effective immediately, following a May 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Gallegos is further ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,000 to one client and attend ethics school. Gallegos was retained in January 2005 to represent a client in connection with an apartment complex condominium conversion. He was paid a $2,000 deposit in accordance with the retainer agreement, but thereafter, repeatedly neglected to communicate with the client. (Case No. SC08-1818) Delmer C. Gowing III, 6711 N. Ocean Blvd., Apt. 12, Ocean Ridge, suspended until further order, following a June 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1989) According to the emergency suspension order, Gowing appeared to be causing great public harm. Gowing represented a client in arbitration proceedings. A Florida Bar audit revealed that in October 2008, award checks totaling $33,679.98 were issued to Gowing for the client. He deposited them into his operating account instead of his trust account and failed to provide the client with all of the client’s settlement proceeds. Gowing is charged with misappropriating client funds. Shortages in his trust account ranged from $20,000 in September 2006 to $67,930 in January 2009. (Case No. SC09-885) Caryn S. Grainer, 1930 Harrison St., Suite 503, Hollywood, reprimanded following an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1980) In October 2005, Grainer filed on behalf of her client a motion to set aside mediation agreement. Grainer alleged that she had a good faith basis for filing the motion, but the court found that she acted in bad faith and awarded attorneys fees in the amount of $15,368.95 — $7,684.47 of which was to be paid by Grainer personally. Grainer did not pay any of the sanction entered against her, but voluntarily submitted to a deposition and filed a financial affidavit. She offered a payment plan to opposing counsel, but he declined and sought a judgment instead.(Case No. SC09-697) Scott Marshall Greenbaum, 200 S.E. 18th Court, Ft. Lauderdale, disbarred for five years, effective immediately, following a June 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) In December 2007, Greenbaum was placed on suspension for six months and probation for three years. He failed to comply with the terms of those sanctions. Greenbaum also failed to notify his clients of the suspension as required. (Case No. SC08-780) Kathy B. Gregg, 121 S. 7th Avenue, Wauchula, reprimanded following a June 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Gregg is also ordered to attend ethics school. In fall 2007, Gregg accepted $1,500 as a retainer from a client on military duty. She failed to respond to the client’s numerous e-mails or telephone calls requesting the status of his case until July 2008 when the client filed a grievance. During the Bar’s investigation, Gregg admitted that she commingled the client’s deposit by placing it into her operating account. (Case No. SC09-194) Kenneth James Hamel, P.O. Box 161717, Miami, disbarred effective immediately, following an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Hamel represented a buyer in a real estate transaction. Hamel advised the seller’s attorney on more than one occasion that he held a deposit of $50,000. Hamel did not have the deposit and thereafter agreed as a part of a settlement in subsequent litigation to personally pay the seller the $50,000. Hamel never paid the seller. As a result of The Florida Bar’s investigation, Hamel was served a subpoena to appear and produce bank records. Rather than comply with the subpoena, Hamel chose instant disbarment. (Case No. SC09-650) Gary John Hausler, 6302 Trail Blvd., Naples, suspended until further order, following a May 21 court order. According to an emergency suspension order, Hausler had caused or was likely to cause serious harm to his clients and/or to the public. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Hausler was entrusted with $80,000 by clients for use in making a mortgage loan. Hausler admitted to using the money for a personal obligation without his clients’ permission. (Case No. SC09-855) Dennis Hernandez, 3339 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, suspended for 90 days, effective 60 days from the date of a May 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Hernandez is further ordered to attend ethics school and pay restitution in the amount of $19,766 to six clients. Hernandez did not adequately supervise his employees to ensure their compliance with rules of professional conduct. In at least two instances, a client met with an associate and a nonlawyer employee whom the client thought to be an attorney. On a section of his firm’s Web site titled “Our Attorneys,” Hernandez listed the names and biographies of several people who were not Florida lawyers. Hernandez may have also billed some non-lawyers on cases at the firm’s attorney rates of $200 to $300 per hour. (Case Nos. SC07-973 and SC07-1262) Thomas Lemeul Hurst, 822 NE 96th Street, Miami, suspended for 91 days, effective 60 days from a May 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1972) In June 2002, Hurst was appointed as the personal representative of an estate. A year later, one of the heirs requested full disclosure of assets and expenditures from the estate, but Hurst never responded. In July 2005, the court entered an order of dismissal of the probate case due to Hurst’s failure to properly administer the estate. (Case No. SC08-1567) Robin Peter Jung, 7194 Augusta Blvd., Seminole, suspended effective 30 days from a June 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) In February, Jung pleaded guilty in circuit court to possession of cocaine, a felony. (Case No. SC09-1005) J. A. Jurgens, 900 Fox Valley Drive, Suite 100, Longwood, suspended until further order, following a June 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1987) According to an emergency suspension order, Jurgens appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating funds held in his trust account. The Florida Bar’s investigation indicated that Jurgens took client funds from his trust account and used them for his own personal purposes. (Case No. SC09-1004) Mark Kevin Koenig, 7711 N. Military Trail #208, Palm Beach Gardens, disbarred effective 30 days from the date of a June 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) Koenig accepted an excessive fee to represent a client in a murder case for which he was not qualified. He also held trust funds from settlement proceeds belonging to several clients, but failed to pay their medical bills to a particular company. When inquiries were made by the company regarding the outstanding bills, Koenig failed to respond. A Florida Bar audit determined that Koenig had shortages in his trust account and had intentionally misappropriated funds. (Case No. SC07-957) Steven Curtis Lawson, 746-R N.E. 3rd Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, disbarred effective immediately, following a May 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Lawson abandoned representation of an incarcerated criminal defendant and he failed to respond to calls and letters from the judge handling the case. (Case No. SC08-2396) Joseph S. Lefrak, 18 E, 48th St., Fl 10, New York, N.Y., suspended until further order, following an April 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1978) According to the emergency suspension order, Lefrak appeared to be causing great public harm. In New York, Lefrak was disbarred for his alleged improper refusal to release estate funds due a client; commingling of client funds, and refusal to respond to a judicial subpoena. In addition, after Lefrak’s emergency suspension in New York, before his disbarment, two checks from his attorney escrow account were returned for insufficient funds. (Case No. SC09-640) Oscar Summer Mayers, Jr., 902 Spring Knoll Drive, Herndon, Va., suspended for 18 months, effective retroactive to September 4, 2008, following a May 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) In addition to having membership in The Florida Bar, Mayers was a member of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. In March, Mayers was disciplined by the court for misconduct pertaining to a child support proceeding. Mayers admitted to altering a check and making a false statement to the court. In January 2005, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of failing to pay child support. Mayers failed to timely notify the Bar of the discipline. (Case No. SC08-2119) Darin Wade Mellinger, 1200 N. Federal Highway, Suite 200, Boca Raton, publicly reprimanded following an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) In October 2006, Mellinger began representation of a client and his company in a real estate contract. On at least one occasion, Mellinger told the seller’s counsel that he was holding $25,000 in escrow, when in fact, the check had been returned by the bank for insufficient funds. Following a breach of contract and failure of further negotiations, the sellers sued the client and his company as well as Mellinger’s law firm. (Case No. SC09-631) Lisa Metellus, 810 S. State Road 7, Plantation, disbarred effective retroactive to January 3, following a May 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Further, Metellus shall pay restitution in the amount of $74,375.74 to one client. Metellus misappropriated client funds. In April 2008, Metellus issued a check to a client in the amount of $74,375.74 for a divorce settlement. The check was returned for insufficient funds. The Bar’s audit found that a $75,000 divorce settlement check for the client was deposited into Metellus’ trust account on December 12, 2007. As of March 31, 2008, Metellus’ trust account was overdrawn by more than $4,000. (Case No. SC08-2451) William L. Mims, Jr., 4437 Koger St., Orlando, suspended for 91 days following a June 4 court order, consecutive to a 91-day suspension ordered in February. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Mims was the attorney for a legal aid pro bono case, but he failed to perform his duties or communicate with the client. He subsequently failed to file a motion to withdraw from the representation and failed to communicate with the court. In another matter, Mims failed to diligently pursue settlement of an estate, nor did he timely respond to the Bar’s inquiries into the matter. (Case No. SC09-362) David Mogul, 3085 Saint James Drive, Boca Raton, suspended for 90 days, effective retroactive to Nov. 2, 2008, following a May 14 court order. (Admitted to practice; 1983) Mogul is further directed to attend a trust accounting workshop. Mogul commingled personal funds with client funds in his trust account and did not maintain minimum required trust account records or procedures. He used personal funds placed in his trust account for payment of his own personal expenses, including fees related to his divorce case and the purchase of a boat. (Case No. SC08-2240) Barry Roy Nager, 5703 Red Bug Lake Road, PMB 211, Winter Springs, disbarred effective 30 days from the date of an April 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1959) On August 30, 2007, Nager was suspended for 90 days, effective October 1, 2007. Reinstatement would have been automatic after 90 days. The court’s order required that Nager accept no new business until reinstatement. Nager did not properly notify his clients of the suspension; while suspended, Nager sought to accept new business and he practiced law. (Case Nos. SC07-2085 and SC08-387) Tashi Iana Richards, 7920 N.W. 6th St. #205, Pembroke Pines, suspended until further order, following a June 22 court order.(Admitted to practice: 2004) According to the emergency suspension order, Richards appeared to be causing great public harm by the misappropriation of client trust funds or property. A Bar audit found that Richards failed to hold in trust $13,000 received from a client. As of October 31, 2008, Richards’ trust account balance was $.01. The audit further concluded that Richards failed to maintain minimum trust account records. (Case No. SC09-1028) Ronald Thomas Rider, P.O. Box 134, Fort Pierce, disbarred for 10 years, effective immediately, following a June 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) An audit of Rider’s trust account found that Rider misappropriated client settlement funds; in some instances, he failed to communicate with clients regarding their settlements; he failed to respond in writing to the Bar’s investigative inquiry and he closed his law office without advising the Bar of a change of address. (Case No. SC09-15) Karen Marie Smith, P.O. Box 4935, Winter Park, disbarred for five years, effective immediately, following a June 25 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) In numerous instances, Smith failed to pursue her clients’ cases. She failed to communicate with clients and the courts and failed to timely file required paperwork. Smith abandoned her solo practice without prior notice and without taking steps to protect the interests of her clients. She was indefinitely suspended in June 2008 for failure to comply with a grievance committee subpoena. (Case Nos. SC08-1349 and SC08-2289) Jack Willard Snyder, 9443 Turnberry Drive, Potomac, Md., suspended effective 30 days from a May 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) Snyder pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Maryland, to one count of knowingly and willfully making a false statement to a government entity, a felony. Upon taking a job with the National Institutes of Health, Snyder was instructed to cease his litigation consulting business. He continued to operate the business and earn outside income. As a federal employee, Snyder was required under law to seek approval for participation in outside activities and report any compensation he received. Snyder never informed his primary employer that he continued to operate the consulting business and received $589,450 in additional income from that job in 2003-2005. (Case No. SC09-817) Eduardo Rigoberto Soto, 999 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Suite 1040, Coral Gables, received a public reprimand following an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Further, Soto shall pay restitution totaling $10,200 to two clients. In several instances in which Soto was retained to handle cases, he failed to communicate with the clients. (Case No. SC09-654) Leonard U. Stolar, 300 71st St., Suite 540, Miami, disbarred effective immediately, following an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1961) Stolar failed to preserve and apply estate funds in connection with a client’s estate. (Case No. SC09-651) Marvin Lee Stull, 1923 16th St. N., Saint Petersburg, suspended until further order, following a July 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1975) According to an emergency suspension order, Stull appeared to be causing great public harm. Stull used a deceased client’s debit card. In June, he was arrested for failure to appear in court. (Case No. SC09-1183) Peter David Ticktin, 600 W. Hillsboro Blvd., Suite 220, Deerfield Beach, suspended for 91 days, following a May 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Ticktin was involved in several representations and business dealings that constituted conflicts of interest. (Case No. SC07-369) Keith Wasserstrom, 5011 S. State Road 7, Suite 106, Davie, suspended for three years, effective retroactive to April 18, 2008, following an April 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) In February 2009, Wasserstrom was convicted of felonies in circuit court in connection with his position as a city commissioner in Hollywood. (Case No. SC08-525) Wilfrid M. Whitney, 4620 E. 1st Ave., Hialeah, disbarred effective immediately, following an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Whitney misappropriated client trust funds in the amount of approximately $120,000. He also failed to provide legal services for which he had received a fee. (Case No. SC09-649) John A. Yanchek, III, 889 N. Washington Blvd., Suite B, Sarasota, suspended until further order, following a March 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Yanchek committed perjury, a first degree misdemeanor in connection with a real estate transaction in which he acted as a closing agent and a title insurance agent. In three separate real estate transactions in which Yanchek acted as the escrow agent, he intentionally misrepresented to the sellers that deposit money was in his trust account, when in fact, he had not received any deposits from his clients. Yanchek also failed to timely file real estate paperwork and he failed to respond to the grievance committee’s request for documents. (Case No. SC07-1442) Court orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline.last_img read more