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Florida Supreme Court disciplines 32 attorneys

(WCTV)
Published: Jul. 29, 2016 at 5:28 PM EDT
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By: WCTV Eyewitness News

July 29, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Tallahassee attorney is among 32 recently disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court.

The Florida Bar released the following summary of orders issued between April 4th and June 30th:

The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian of the integrity of the legal profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 32 attorneys – disbarring six, revoking the licenses of two, suspending 16 and publicly reprimanding eight. Two attorneys were also placed on probation, and another was ordered to pay restitution. As an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the 103,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps. Additional information on the discipline system and how to file a complaint are available at www.floridabar.org/attorneydiscipline. 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. Disbarred lawyers may not re-apply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that rejects many who apply. It includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam. Historically, less than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission. Vanessa Dominguez Bandrich, 2520 Coral Way, Suite 2 083, Miami, disbarred effective immediately, following a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Bandrich was found guilty in court of one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, a felony, and was sentenced to one year and one day in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, followed by one year of supervised release. Bandrich was also ordered to forfeit her interest in a money judgment of more than $4 million. (Case No. SC15-993) Joseph Bernstein, 707 S.E. 3rd Ave. Fl. 3, Fort Lauderdale. The Supreme Court granted Bernstein’s request for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately, following a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Bernstein involved misappropriation and commingling of client trust funds. (Case No. SC16-660) Tucker Skyrocki Boyt, 617A Cleveland St., Suite 10, Clearwater, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from an April 29 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) Boyt was found in contempt for non-compliance, for failure to respond to Florida Bar inquiries regarding four complaints. (Case No. SC16-493) Jose Manuel Camacho, Jr., 1000 Brickell Ave., Suite 920, Miami, disbarred effective immediately, following a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Camacho has a criminal case pending. He was charged in court with 14 counts of uttering a forged instrument – third-degree felonies. He forged the signatures of judges on numerous orders pertaining to foreclosure cases. Camacho forged the signature of one judge at least 31 times. He also commingled trust funds into his operating account. (Case No. SC16-145) John Chiarenza, 13020 S.W. 92nd Ave., Apt. A311, Miami, suspended following a May 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Chiarenza was adjudicated guilty in court of one count of aggravated assault by possession of a firearm, a third degree felony. An appeal of the criminal conviction is pending. (Case No. SC16-741) Ronald Clyde Denis, 801 Spencer Drive, West Palm Beach, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a June 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Denis was found in contempt for non-compliance. He failed to respond to an official Bar inquiry regarding a complaint. (Case No. SC16-792) John Edward Eagen, P.O. Box 1545, Tallahassee, to be publicly reprimanded following a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Further, he shall pay restitution of $2,500. Eagen charged an excessive fee and made a false statement about representing a client. In a letter, Eagan quoted a flat legal fee to the client of $5,000. Shortly before the scheduled trial, Eagen requested and was paid an additional $2,500 as costs to conduct a deposition and criminal background check. Eagen told a grievance committee that the client offered the additional money to compensate him for having to go to trial. (Case No. SC-2187) Nicole Mae Frost, 300 Turner St., Clearwater, suspended until further order, following a June 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Frost was found in contempt for non-compliance. She failed to respond to an official Bar inquiry regarding a complaint. (Case No. SC15-1972) Neil Franklin Garfield, 5944 Coral Ridge Drive #276, Parkland, to be publicly reprimanded following a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) In at least four instances, Garfield accepted money to represent clients and failed to follow through. In one case, Garfield did not perform the work and, when asked for a refund, denied knowing the client. In other cases, he failed to communicate, charged excessive fees, failed to return refunds upon request and failed to timely respond to Bar inquiries. (Case No. SC15-2162) Tomislav David Golik, 11537 S.W. 64th St., Apt. A, Miami, suspended for three years, effective immediately, following an April 28, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Golik pleaded guilty and was adjudicated guilty in federal court of a felony. The court charged that Golik, as an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance, knowingly possessed firearms. (Case No. SC16-135) John R. Griffith, P.O. Box 24628, Lakeland, disbarred effective immediately, following a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) A Bar investigation revealed that Griffith misappropriated client trust funds. (Case No. SC16-900) Tonja J. Helton, 10150 Highland Manor Drive, Suite 200, Tampa, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a June 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) According to a petition for emergency suspension order, Helton appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating thousands of dollars in client funds. (Case No. SC16-865) Bart Alan Houston, 1401 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 206, Fort Lauderdale, suspended for 30 days effective May 13, following an April 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) Houston was sanctioned by a bankruptcy court regarding statements filed in a bankruptcy proceeding and for failing to disclose the use of the $35,000 fee he collected to represent a client. (Case No. SC15-2120) Barry Ernest Hughes, 900 Big Tree Road, Daytona Beach, to be publicly reprimanded following an April 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Hughes was the personal representative and attorney of record for an estate. The court issued multiple orders to show cause as to why Hughes should not be held in contempt of court for his failure to complete the estate. As a result of his lack of diligence, the court ultimately dismissed the case and Hughes took no action to reopen the estate until three years later. Hughes subsequently resigned as personal representative and attorney of record; however, he failed to provide all of the estate documents to the new attorney as ordered by the court. (Case No. SC15-2236) William N. Hutchinson Jr., 514 S.E. 7th St., Fort Lauderdale. The Supreme Court granted Hutchinson’s request for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective 30 days from a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1974) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Hutchinson involved misappropriation of client trust funds. (Case No. SC16-648) Daryl Lafayette Jones, 14707 S. Dixie Hwy., Suite 101, Palmetto Bay, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter, following a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) In handling a loan modification and a foreclosure action for his client, Jones violated Bar rules regarding conflict of interest, competence and communication, when he secured a third party investor to purchase his client’s home in a bank-approved short sale. (Case No. SC16-897) Julie Boggan Kaminsky, P.O. Box 3010, Auburn, Ala., to be publicly reprimanded following a May 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Kaminsky was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of an Oct. 15, 2015, suspension order. Specifically, Kaminsky was required to notify her clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of her suspension and provide the Bar with a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of her suspension order. (Case No. SC16-307) Charles Jay Kane, 4801 Linton Blvd., Suite 11A-655, Delray Beach, suspended until further order, following a June 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1965) Kane’s law firm and two other firms were hired by healthcare providers for the purpose of representation in personal injury protection claims against insurance companies, including Progressive. It was determined that Progressive was systematically refusing to pay valid insurance claims. The law firms then filed bad-faith claims for clients. After receiving a $5.25 million settlement from Progressive, Kane and his son and business partner Harley Kane paid clients $672,000 and kept more than $4 million as attorneys’ fees. The bad-faith attorneys subsequently sued Kane and the other PIP attorneys and firms for unjust enrichment and fraud. (Case Nos. SC13-388, SC13-389; SC13-390) Harley Nathan Kane, 4801 Linton Blvd., Suite 11A-655, Delray Beach, suspended until further order, following a June 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Kane’s law firm and two other firms were hired by healthcare providers for the purpose of representation in personal injury protection claims against insurance companies, including Progressive. It was determined that Progressive was systematically refusing to pay valid insurance claims. The law firms then filed bad-faith claims for clients. After receiving a $5.25 million settlement from Progressive, Kane and his father and business partner Charles Kane paid clients $672,000 and kept more than $4 million as attorneys’ fees. The bad-faith attorneys sued Kane and the other PIP attorneys and firms for unjust enrichment and fraud. (Case Nos. SC13-388, SC13-389; SC13-390) Darin James Lentner, 303 S.W. 6th St., Fort Lauderdale, suspended until further order, following a June 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Lentner’s law firm and two other firms were hired by healthcare providers for the purpose of representation in personal injury protection claims against insurance companies, including Progressive. It was determined that Progressive was systematically refusing to pay valid insurance claims. The law firms then filed bad-faith claims for clients. After receiving a $3 million settlement from Progressive, Lentner and business partner Laura Watson paid clients $361,000 and kept more than $2 million as attorneys’ fees. The bad-faith attorneys subsequently sued Lentner and the other PIP attorneys and firms for unjust enrichment and fraud. (Case Nos. SC13-388, SC13-389; SC13-390) Camella Lynn Manion, 1304 Peninsular Road, Jupiter, to be publicly reprimanded following an April 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Manion represented a seller in a real estate action and attempted to collect more than $8,000 in attorney’s fees from the buyers. Despite their refusal, Manion again attempted to persuade them to pay her fees. (Case No. SC15-852) Jose Carlos Marrero, 1200 Brickell Ave., Suite 505, Miami, suspended for three years, effective 30 days from a June 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Marrero violated Bar rules while serving as an escrow agent and when processing two mortgage loans on the same property. He drafted a mortgage which attached as collateral a piece of property that no signatory to the agreement actually owned or had authority to encumber. He did not protect the interests of the lender, and he intentionally disbursed funds prior to having the borrowers sign mortgage documents. Marrero received loan closing documents on the property in January 2006, and he did not record the mortgage until six months later, while simultaneously certifying to a subsequent lender that there were no prior encumbrances on the property. He failed to disclose pertinent information to both lenders regarding the loans. (Case No. SC11-1780) George Allen Orlowitz, 7900 High School Road, Suite 2, Elkins Park, Pa., disbarred effective 30 days from an April 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1975) Orlowitz misappropriated and commingled thousands of dollars in client funds. He also prepared and presented false statements to several clients, stating that payments had been made on their behalf, when in fact, they had never been made. (Case No. SC15-2082) Antonios Poulos, 1502 W. Busch Blvd., Suite 200, Tampa, suspended for two years, effective immediately, following an April 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Further, upon reinstatement, Poulos shall be placed on probation for one year. Poulos advised a client of his receipt of settlement funds in an employment discrimination case in September 2013. He then failed to communicate with the client and did not provide the funds to the client until May 2014. In another matter, a case was dismissed because Poulos failed to respond to the federal court and comply with local rules. When he appeared in court, Poulos falsely advised that he’d informed his client that the case had been dismissed. No. SC15-272) Tracy Preston Preece, 379 Cheney Hwy. No. 222, Titusville, suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a May 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Preece was found in contempt for failure to comply with the conditions of a Sept. 21, 2015, suspension order. Specifically, Preece was ordered to notify her clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of her suspension and provide to The Florida Bar a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of the suspension order. (Case No. SC16-241) Adam Powell Rowe, 613 Saint Johns Ave., Suite 2013, Palatka, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter, following an April 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Further, Rowe is placed on probation for two years, and he shall sign a rehabilitation contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance. Rowe was hired to assist a client in a foreclosure case. Rowe sent a letter to her with unprofessional and threatening language when she requested an itemized list of charges. (Case No. SC16-469) William Glenn Roy III, 1070 Montgomery Road #103, Altamonte Springs, suspended until further order, following a May 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) A Bar investigation found that Roy misappropriated approximately $125,000 of escrowed funds he held as an escrow agent. He also altered bank statements and other documents pertaining to the IRS in an effort to conceal the misappropriation. (Case No. SC16-848) Anita Renee Flannigan Steenson, 9 Lafayette St., Milford, Conn., to be publicly reprimanded, following an April 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) This is a reciprocal discipline. Steenson is also a member of the Connecticut State Bar and was disciplined in that state for violating rules related to conflict of interest. Steenson served as legal director for a company and as counsel for a client of that company. The client’s contract was terminated by the company. The Connecticut grievance committee found that Steenson’s personal and business relationships with the company limited her ability to both objectively represent the client, and provide independent legal advice to the client. (Case No. SC15-1870) Phillip Harding Taylor, 200 Central Ave., Suite 710, St. Petersburg, disbarred effective immediately, following an April 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1989) Taylor was found in contempt for failure to comply with the conditions of a Sept. 16, 2015, suspension order. Specifically, Taylor was ordered to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension and provide to The Florida Bar a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of the suspension order. (Case No. SC16-249) David Christopher Weigel, 3680 Lake Center Drive, Apt. 1103, Mount Dora, suspended for 91 days, effective April 15, following an April 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Prior to petitioning for reinstatement, Weigel shall undergo a mental health evaluation to determine his fitness to practice law. The former prosecutor neglected to process 200 DUI cases and more than 800 Notices To Appear. As a result, prosecution of the cases was barred by the statute of limitations. (Case No. SC16-508) Daniel Joshua Zemel, 2075 N. Bay Road, Miami Beach, disbarred effective immediately, following a June 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Zemel was found in contempt for failure to comply with the conditions of a Sept. 2, 2015, suspension order. Specifically, Zemel was ordered to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension and provide to The Florida Bar a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of the suspension order. (Case No. SC16-406)

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