March 15, 2008 Disciplinary Actions

first_img Disciplinary Actions Prepared by The Florida Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department T he Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 30 attorneys, disbarring seven, suspending 12, placing 10 on probation, reprimanding 11 and ordering one to pay restitution. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline.The following lawyers are disciplined: Ann Poe Angel, 1617 Hendry St., Suite 405, Ft. Myers, disbarred following a January 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Bar complaints against Angel alleged a lack of diligence in representing clients as well as a failure to communicate with them, complete legal matters and return unearned fees. Additionally, Angel failed to fully respond to a subpoena for her trust account records. (Case No. SC07-2409) Marlene Aponte,MSC 128 Sierra Morena 271, Cumbres, San Juan, Puerto Rico, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a January 31 order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Hired by a client convicted of a felony to pursue post-conviction relief for a fee of $20,000, Aponte failed to communicate with her client, filed motions found by the court to be deficient, failed to advise her client of the court rulings and abandoned her law practice without informing him or filing another motion for post-conviction relief within the specified time frame. (Case No. SC07-1259) Vincent Tyrone Brown, 555 N.E. 34th St., Miami, to receive a public reprimand from The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, following a January 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Brown failed to inform the Bar that he had completed continuing legal education hours in a timely manner. He was declared delinquent in his continued legal education requirement but continued to practice law. In another case, Brown failed to inform the Bar that he had paid required restitution to a former client. (Case No. SC07-467) Terence John Daly,13336 N. Central Ave., Tampa, suspended for two years retroactive to June 7, 2007, according to a January 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1987) The record in seven complaints showed Daly did not communicate with clients, failed to diligently pursue their cases, failed to competently represent them, failed to protect their interests when ending representation, engaged in misconduct and criminal misconduct and violated rules regarding trust accounts. (SC07-860 and SC07-2169) Susan Hayden Daniels, 420 W. Indiantown Road, Jupiter, to receive a public reprimand pursuant to a January 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Daniels represented a client in a Georgia court, where the client’s husband had filed for divorce, even though she was not admitted to practice in Georgia. When told to obtain Georgia counsel for a status conference, Daniels did not inform her client or tell her that the court had said if Georgia counsel did not appear the case would go to final decree. As a result, the court granted all relief sought by the client’s former husband. Additionally, Daniels failed to produce certain mandatory trust accounting records. (Case No. SC07-1366) Utpal Naren Dighe, 816 N.W. 11th St., Apt. 401, Miami, suspended for 90 days effective immediately following a January 17 court order and placed on probation for two years. (Admitted to practice: 2004) In May 2007, Dighe was arrested and charged with purchasing and possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana. Additionally, for seven months Dighe was delinquent in his Bar dues and was delinquent in his basic skills requirement for 21 months. (Case No. SC07-2391) Raymond Eliot Dobbins, 11710 S.W. 144th Court, Miami, suspended for 18 months, effective 30 days from a January 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) Dobbins allowed a nonlawyer to use his law office to engage in the unlicensed practice of law. Additionally he became delinquent in his Bar membership for not paying membership fees but continued to practice law, filing notice of appearance in 90 cases and stating he was a member in good standing of The Florida Bar, thus making material misrepresentations to both his clients and the tribunal. (Case No. SC07-1628) Deulysses L. Felder, 6770 Indian Creek Drive, Apt 14-J, Miami Beach, to receive a public reprimand, pursuant to a January 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) In a guardianship case, Felder did not disclose his stakeholder interest to the court in three companies that he recommended to purchase real estate, move property and then handle a real estate sale after the ward’s death. (Case No. SC07-2383) April Meredith Friedman, 109 Manatee Crossing, Apt. 102, Daytona Beach, disbarred, effective 30 days from a January 30 court order. ( Admitted to practice: 1983) In 1998, Friedman began contracting with an insurance company to provide legal services for the workers of companies who were members. From 2000 through 2005, Friedman’s claims for reimbursement increased dramatically. An audit revealed fraudulent claims, including several with Friedman’s home address listed as the supposed claimant’s address. (Case No. SC07-2382) Mark Stephen Gold, 2298 S. Dixie Highway, Miami, to receive a public reprimand and placed on probation for one year, effective immediately pursuant to a January 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Gold disseminated a number of advertisements over a period of years that did not comply with advertising rules, including ads that contained information that improperly promised results, were misleading and failed to contain necessary information and disclosures. (Case Nos. SC04-1661, SC06-1232, SC07-189) Steven Howard Goldfarb, P.O. Box 3032, Lantana, reprimanded and placed on probation for one year, effective immediately pursuant to a January 17 court order. Additionally Goldfarb is ordered to pay restitution of $8,687 in one case. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Goldfarb charged a client a flat, nonrefundable fee of $50,000 to handle his divorce, but then later requested and received additional fees. At one point he told his client not to attend a motion hearing and trial, saying they were canceled by the court, which was untrue. (Case No. SC07-746) Joann Marie Hennessey, 2800 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 530, Miami, to receive a public reprimand, pursuant to a January 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Hired to represent a client in an immigration matter, Hennessey made two court appearances. The presiding judge ordered her to file an asylum application at the subsequent hearing. She maintains that she requested another attorney substitute for her, but no attorney appeared for her client, who, having not received notice, also did not attend. (Case no. SC07-2390) Kevin J. Hubbart, 2471 N. McMullen Booth Road, Suite 316 , Clearwater, to receive a public reprimand and ordered to attend ethics school, pursuant to a January 17 court order. ( Admitted to practice: 1996) While administratively suspended for not completing continuing legal education requirements, Hubbart provided services to clients. In other cases, he recovered assets for clients, including a 2003 automobile that he offered to buy without explaining the conflict of interest or advising his clients to seek independent counsel. Additionally an audit revealed Hubbart did not follow trust accounting procedures or keep his trust in compliance with Florida Bar rules. In another case, he did not disclose to a new client seeking an eviction of a tenant that he had represented that tenant. (Case No. SC07-835) Mark C. Johnson, 5665 Atlanta Highway, Suite 103-315, Alpharetta, Ga., disbarred, effective 30 days from a January 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Johnson failed to communicate with clients, diligently represent and perform the legal work they hired them to do. accepting fees and not performing the work, he charged excessive fees. Moreover, he closed out his law practice in Miramar, Fla., without taking steps to protect his clients’ interests or conclude their legal matters. (Case No. SC07-1199) Joseph Francis Keeley III, 2424 N. Federal Highway, Suite 314, Boca Raton, permanently disbarred, effective immediately following a January 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1972) Keeley was disbarred effective Nov. 8, 2006. Following the disbarment, he failed to notify clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of the disbarment as required. He also continued to have a sign on his office indicating he was an attorney and continued to maintain and use his trust account. (SC07-1109) Ali Mashayekhi Kirk, 8809 Lake Ridge Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio, suspended for 45 days, effective 30 days from a January 24 court order, and upon reinstatement placed on probation for six months and ordered to complete a trust accounting workshop. (Admitted to practice: 1995) An audit of Kirk’s trust account showed he commingled personal funds with trust funds, that he did not maintain an operating account and paid firm and/or personal expenses from the trust account. (Case No. SC07-1384) Kip William Kootz, 420 Summit Ave., Saint Paul, Minn., to receive a public reprimand, pursuant to a January 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Kootz represented a beneficiary of two trusts as well as the trustees of one of the trusts, an impermissible conflict of interest of which he informed neither party. Additionally as trustee of one of the trusts, he invested assets in corporations where he was principal, shareholder and/or officer, another conflict of interest. Moreover, he failed to produce records of accountings for both trusts despite a court order requiring he do so. (Case No. SC07-551) Warren Thomas LaFray, 300 Turner St., Clearwater, suspended for 36 months, effective 30 days from a January 10 court order. Upon reinstatement, LaFray will be on probation for two years. (Admitted to practice: 1976) LaFray misused client trust funds, commingling them with other funds and failed to comply with basic trust accounting practices and procedures. He neglected client matters in two cases and refused to refund fees owed to a client. (SC07-635) Clifford Vincent LoCurto, 2721 S.E. 15th St., Pompano Beach, to receive a public reprimand, placed on probation for three years and ordered to attend a trust accounting workshop. (Admitted to practice: 1994) A Florida Bar compliance audit of LoCurto’s trust account revealed that at certain points he did not have sufficient funds to meet outstanding trust fund obligations. Additionally, LoCurto did not maintain the minimum trust accounting records or follow prescribed trust accounting procedures. (Case No. SC07-182) John Coury MacDonald, 3901 Bokel Drive , Chantilly, Va. , disbarred, effective 30 days from a January 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board disbarred MacDonald on April 12, 2007. An appointed receiver found an office in disarray with unopened mail, overdrafts on a bank account, and a trust account closed because of overdrafts. Additionally, unrecorded deeds for residential property and non-negotiated checks payable to various circuit courts for recording real property were found. Many clients informed the receiver of fees paid and no legal work done. The Virginia Bar violations are equivalent to Florida Bar rule violations. (SC07-1029) Christopher Thomas Mancino, 3670 John Anderson Drive, Ormond Beach, suspended for three years effective 30 days from a January 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) An audit of Mancino’s trust account revealed he failed to maintain sufficient funds to cover deposits and had 13 bounced checks. The shortages were caused by Mancino using trust funds for his own purposes. Additionally with one client, Mancino sought and received several loans without advising him to seek independent counsel. (Case Nos. SC07-865 and SC07-1680.) Jessica Kathleen Miller, 2414 Indian Key Drive, Holiday, suspended until further order of the court pursuant to a January 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) In its petition for emergency suspension, the Bar stated that Miller “has engaged in an escalating pattern of neglect that has resulted in effective abandonment of her law practice and a failure to account for and deliver funds belonging to clients and third parties.” In the past two years, approximately 25 clients and other individuals have filed complaints with the Bar against Miller. (SC07-2376) Mitchell J. Olin,507 S.E. 11th Court, Ft. Lauderdale, disbarred for five years, effective retroactively to June 19, 2007, pursuant to a January 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) An audit of Olin’s trust account revealed he had misappropriated and converted trust funds for his own use. Four additional Bar complaints showed overdrafts in his trust account and, in three cases, not remitting all funds due clients. Moreover, Olin continued to practice law while under an emergency suspension. (Case No. SC07-1520) Paul Richard Parker, 3203 Pleasant Hill Road, Lynn Haven, suspended effective 30 days from a January 3 court order. The Florida Bar is now pursuing a permanent disbarment. (Admitted to practice: 1993) On Nov. 21, 2007, Parker was found guilty of 78 felony counts related to child pornography and possessing computer child pornography and sentenced to 14 years incarceration and 14 years probation. (Case No. SC07-2397) Jean M. Picon, P.O. Box 360617, Melbourne, suspended for 10 days effective 30 days from a January 24 court order, and upon reinstatement placed on probation for two years. (Admitted to practice: 2003) In representing several criminal defendants in circuit court, Picon was repeatedly late for hearings and trials, resulting in orders to show cause being issued against her by more than one judge. She also failed to properly notice the court of scheduling conflicts and failed to properly withdraw from representation. In other cases she failed to appear at hearings, docket soundings, or an early resolution conference. (Case No. SC06-2298) Barbara Elizabeth Pusch, 212 Greenbrier Drive, N.E., Ft. Walton Beach, to receive a public reprimand, placed on probation for 18 months and ordered to attend ethics school, pursuant to a January 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Hired to transfer title to real estate, Pusch failed to communicate with her client for more than year until after a Florida Bar complaint was referred to a grievance committee. In another case, she failed to diligently pursue her client’s dissolution of marriage and abandoned her case. (Case No. SC07-914) Michael A. Reichman,P.O. Box 41, Monticello, suspended for 30 days effective 30 days from a January 24 court order, and upon reinstatement placed on probation for one year. (Admitted to practice: 1974) Reichman failed to record the deed for real estate a client purchased. The sellers then sold the property again and Reichman’s client lost the property. In another case, he was retained by a client to prepare a will. He had the will improperly notarized and signed by witnesses after the client executed the document. After the client’s death, he submitted the improperly executed will to probate court and failed to inform the court that the will was not valid. (Case No. SC06-2319) Lisette Pie Salazar, 200 Crandon Blvd., Suite 311, Key Biscayne, reprimanded pursuant to a January 10 court order, and placed on probation for two years effective immediately. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Salazar represented a foreign national in a real estate closing and held $45,000 from the seller’s proceeds to satisfy IRS tax liability, but she did not forward the money to the IRS and kept it in her trust account for an unreasonable period of time. (SC07-2395) Robert Joseph Tieso, 4331 N. Federal Highway, Suite 206, Ft. Lauderdale, disbarred effectively immediately pursuant to a January 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Tieso was replaced as counsel for a condominium association and refused to turn over files and financial records to the new attorney. In another case, Tieso did nothing to advance the probate of an estate and a client discovered her uncle’s condominium was subject to possible foreclosure because of unpaid fees and taxes. In another case, he did not pay a medical bill of a client with funds withheld from a settlement for that purpose. Additionally, Tieso failed to inform The Florida Bar of his arrest and sentence on DUI charges. (Case No. SC07-859) Louis Randolf Townsend, Jr., 301 Clematis St., Suite 3000, West Palm Beach, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from a January 17 court order, and ordered to attend ethics school. (Admitted to practice: 1995) During the hours he was paid by his law firm, Townsend represented non-firm clients and used the firm’s materials and resources. Additionally, he lied about his work representing non-firm clients when asked about it by law firm managers. Later, Townsend made numerous material misrepresentations to a grievance committee about his conduct. (Case No. SC07-81) 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. March 15, 2008 Disciplinary Actions March 15, 2008 Disciplinary Actionslast_img