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August 15, 2013

Disciplinary Actions
Prepared by The Florida Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department
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The Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 25 attorneys, disbarring eight, suspending 15 and publicly reprimanding two. Two attorneys received more than one form of discipline. One was placed on probation and another was ordered to pay restitution.

The following lawyers have been disciplined:

Elihu H. Berman, 2918 Mill Stream Court, Clearwater, suspended for 10 days, effective 30 days from a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1974) Berman represented his friends, a married couple, in the drafting of the wife’s last will and testament. When his male friend died, Berman acted as both the successor personal representative and trustee under a testamentary trust. He then compensated himself excessively, according to statutory and customary fees for a personal representative. In a second matter, Berman was accused of obtaining an $18,000 loan from an elderly client, putting up his car for collateral, and not repaying the loan when promised nor relinquishing the collateral. (Case No. SC12-1355)

Eric Charles Deters, 5247 Madison Pike, Independence, Ky., suspended for 12 months, effective 30 days from a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Deters is also a member of the Kentucky Bar Association, where he was found guilty of multiple offenses in three separate matters. In one instance, Deters made false claims concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge. In another matter, Deters solicited a desired client through coercion, duress, or harassment, even filing pleadings on his behalf without authorization. Finally, Deters agreed to represent a married couple and collected a fee in advance, but failed to earn the fee or reduce the agreement in writing as required by Kentucky rules. (Case No. SC12-1122)

Michael O. Donaldson, P.O. Box 682659, Orlando, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a June 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Donaldson represented a client on federal drug trafficking charges. Donaldson’s legal fees were paid by a third party accused of being associated with the drug trafficking organization for which the client worked, thereby creating a potential conflict of interest. In a hearing, Donaldson stated that his client’s friends and two individual family members had contributed to his fees. The court expressed concern regarding the vagueness of the situation and determined that the potential for conflict of interest warranted Donaldson’s disqualification due to the issues raised regarding the payment of his legal fees. Subsequently, a public defender was appointed to handle the case and Donaldson forfeited a portion of his legal fees. (Case No. SC12-1181)

Marc Emerson Dwyer, 145 City Place, Suite 301, Palm Coast, to be publicly reprimanded following a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) In his representation of a married couple in a civil suit concerning the sale of their boat, Dwyer failed to communicate the status of the case, failed to comply with reasonable requests of information, failed to reasonably consult with the clients, and failed to provide adequate and timely representation. Dwyer’s conduct led to their being unprepared for the trial and subsequently the clients’ inability to appeal the judgment. (Case No. SC11-629)

William E. Evans, Jr., P.O. Box 667, Bartow, disbarred effective 30 days from a May 30, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Evans was involved in a motor vehicle accident, in which the presiding police officer found methamphetamine and a glass pipe containing methamphetamine residue in his car. In a search of Evans’ home, law enforcement found equipment and materials used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Criminal charges were subsequently brought against Evans. (Case No. SC12-2739)

Ryan Thomas Fasso, 2007 S. Pebble Beach Blvd., Sun City Center, suspended for six months, effective retroactive to Oct. 26, 2012, following a June 27 court order. Further, Fasso shall pay restitution of $1,500 to one client and $1,000 to a second client. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Fasso was the subject of two Bar complaints. After being retained to represent clients in two separate matters, Fasso failed to adequately communicate and took no action to move matters forward or to protect the clients’ interests. He also was charged with a DUI, in which he struck and damaged a pedestrian bridge. (Case No. SC12-2290)

Robert Joseph Friedman, 1150 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd. A, Hallandale, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following a May 30, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1958) Friedman was found in contempt for continuing to practice law and holding himself as a member of The Florida Bar after being disbarred on May 24, 2012. (Case No. 12-2730)

Marlene Garcia, 115B Flagler Blvd., St. Augustine, suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1987) Garcia was charged with possession of cocaine – a felony. She pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Four months later she was arrested and later pleaded no contest to a petit theft misdemeanor charge. (Case No. SC11-2377)

Scott Alan Hunter, P.O. Box 914126, St. Petersburg, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a June 27 court order. Upon reinstatement, Hunter is further placed on probation for three years. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Hunter engaged in a pattern of misconduct and committed multiple offenses. Hunter pleaded no contest but was adjudicated guilty of criminal charges including: DUI, discharging a firearm in public, and driving while license canceled, suspended, or revoked — all misdemeanors. Hunter pled no contest to domestic battery. He also failed to report one of his criminal convictions to the Bar. (Case No. SC11-2176)

Alan Kelman, 6439 N.W. 43rd Terrace, Boca Raton, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following a May 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Kelman was found in contempt for non-compliance with the terms of an October 2, 2012, disbarment order. He was ordered to notify all his clients, opposing counsel, and tribunals of his disbarment, and provide The Florida Bar within 30 days of the disbarment, a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that were furnished a copy of his disbarment order. (Case No. SC12-2738)

Johnny Kincaide, Jr., 217 N. Seacrest Blvd., Unit 1540, Boynton Beach, suspended for 12 months, effective immediately, following a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Kincaide exhibited unethical behavior in a decision to personally guarantee a client’s secured loan. He misrepresented facts and used deception and dishonesty when the client sought to recover against the loan after default. (Case No. SC11-716)

Kathy A. Lynn, 4801 214th Lane S.W. Unit 9, Mountlake Terrace, Wash., disbarred effective immediately, following a June 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) This is a reciprocal discipline action. Lynn, who was also licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, was disbarred in that state, and charged with at least 22 counts of misconduct, including: numerous overdrafts of her interest on lawyer’s trust account, failure to adequately and promptly communicate with clients or even do the work; and failure to provide an accounting for money received for services. (Case No. SC12-1992)

Alberto J. Matta, 605 Belvedere Road, Suite 19, West Palm Beach, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Matta was found in contempt for failing to respond to official Bar inquiries regarding a complaint. A grievance committee found that Matta failed to show good cause and the non-compliance was willful. (Case No. SC13-180)

Erin Ray Morgan, 115 Gaskin Ave. N., Douglas, Ga., disbarred effective immediately, following a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Morgan pleaded guilty in South Dakota to one count of possession of marijuana (more than 10 pounds), a first-degree felony. She was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison, but nearly two months later, her sentence was suspended with conditions. Morgan failed to inform The Florida Bar of her indictment or conviction. She also failed to file a response or appear at a final hearing. (Case No. SC12-1492)

Luis G. Musa, 107 Calabria Ave., Coral Gables, suspended for six months, effective 30 days from a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) When Musa was arrested for driving under the influence, two baggies containing cocaine residue were found in his pocket. The DUI charge was reduced to reckless driving and Musa pleaded guilty to a lesser offense. Subsequent screens tested negative for controlled substances and the possession of cocaine charge was withdrawn. Musa also issued more than 100 checks from his operating account that were returned for insufficient funds and he did not comply with the technical trust account rules. Musa engaged in the practice of law while CLE delinquent. (Case No. SC13-267)

Okechukwu Josiah Odunna, 7491 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Suite 301, Lauderhill, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following a May 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Odunna was found in contempt for continuing to practice law and hold himself as a member of The Florida Bar after being disbarred on January 21, 2010. (Case No. SC12-2733)

Urban J.W. Patterson, P.O. Box 783, Islamorada, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Patterson allowed a long-time client who was a real estate developer to negotiate wire transfer deposits to his trust account involving thousands of dollars. The client then instructed him on how to disburse the investment funds. The investors subsequently filed suit against the client for breach of contract, fraud, and violation of Florida Statutes. They also filed suit against Patterson for breach of fiduciary duty and filed a complaint with The Florida Bar for Patterson’s mishandling of their trust funds. (Case No. SC12-830)

Avelino Daniel Perez, P.O. Box 831508, Miami, suspended for 10 days, effective 30 days from a June 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Perez was retained by a married couple to handle an immigration matter. The petition was denied due to his failure to timely respond, but Perez did not inform the clients. Following the denial, Perez failed to have any further communication with the clients. They subsequently retained new counsel, who was able to successfully resolve the case. (Case No. SC13-185)

Richard William Reno, P.O. Box 368, Crawfordville, permanently disbarred, effective immediately, following a June 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Reno was found in contempt for non-compliance with the terms of an April 16 disbarment order. He was ordered to notify all his clients, opposing counsel, and tribunals of his disbarment, and provide The Florida Bar within 30 days of the disbarment, a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that were furnished a copy of his disbarment order. (Case No. SC13-20)

Jacob Addington Rose, 931 Village Blvd., Suite 905-299, West Palm Beach, suspended for two years, effective 30 days from a June 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1976) In three consolidated cases, Rose was found in contempt for not responding to written Bar inquiries in four separate investigations until he faced a show cause order in the related contempt petition. (Case Nos. SC11-964, SC11-1722 & SC11-2225)

Howard Michael Scheinberg, 2924 S.W. 64th Ave., Suite 102, Davie, suspended for two years, following a June 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1987) In 2007 when Scheinberg was the lead prosecutor in a first-degree capital murder case, he and the judge engaged in substantial personal communications — 949 cell phone calls and 471 text messages. Subsequently, the jury found the defendant guilty of first-degree murder and the judge imposed the death penalty. Scheinberg did not disclose the information to the opposing attorney, but when the communication was discovered, the state of Florida agreed to a new trial. (Case No. SC11-1865)

Todd Hudson Seiden, 1904 S. Macdill Ave., Tampa, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a May 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) In at least four separate instances, Seiden agreed to represent clients, accepted their fees, and failed to take action on their cases. (Case No. SC12-1723)

Patricia Anne Snyder, P.O. Box 420188, Summerland Key, disbarred effective immediately, following a May 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Snyder was found in contempt for non-compliance with the terms of a July 12, 2012 ,order suspending her for three years. Snyder was ordered to notify all her clients, opposing counsel, and tribunals of her suspension, and provide The Florida Bar within 30 days of the suspension, a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that were furnished a copy of the suspension order. (Case No. SC12-2180)

Nicholas Theodore Steffens, 9900 W. Sample Road, Suite 300, Coral Springs, to be publicly reprimanded following a May 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Steffens was found in contempt for failing to respond to three separate Bar inquiries. (Case No. SC12-2607)

Marshall Craig Watson, P.O. Box 460862, Fort Lauderdale, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a May 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Watson failed to supervise his employees and he failed to develop and maintain acceptable policies and operating practices for his law firm to ensure that he and his staff were complying with Bar rules. Between 2006 and 2011, Watson’s company handled thousands of foreclosure cases on behalf of banks, lenders, and financial institutions. The Bar received numerous complaints against Watson during that time from four members of the judiciary as well as defendants in foreclosure actions. (Case No. SC12-2731)

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 five percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.

[Revised: 10-17-2014]