The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org

SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 28 ATTORNEYS


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2015
CONTACT:
Karen Y. Kirksey,
The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE:
(850) 561-5666

Summaries of orders issued Oct. 30, 2014 – Feb. 27, 2015

The Florida Bar, the state's guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 28 attorneys; disbarring three, revoking the licenses of five, suspending 15 and publicly reprimanding six. Three attorneys received more than one form of discipline.

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 100,000-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.

Rashmi Airan-Pace, P.O. Box 430667, South Miami. The court granted Airan-Pace a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately, following a Feb. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. Charges pending against Airan-Pace involve allegations of mortgage fraud. In December 2014, Airan-Pace pleaded guilty to the felony charge of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States -- bank fraud. Her role included making material misrepresentations on real estate closing documents and facilitating the transfer of funds through accounts under her control, knowing that funds being paid to buyers were not being disclosed on the HUD settlement statements, nor to the mortgage lenders. (Case No. SC14-2508)

Brad Alexander, 19 W. Flagler St., Suite 707, Miami, suspended for one year, effective April 20, following a Feb. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1980) Alexander is the subject of several Bar disciplinary matters, including a few with findings of probable cause by the Grievance Committee. Alexander admits to failing to appear for scheduled court appearances after agreeing to provide legal services for clients. He also failed to communicate and provide competent representation. (Case No. SC15-167)

Angela Morton Armstrong, 1155 Tampa Road, Palm Harbor, suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a Feb. 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Armstrong was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of July 31, 2014, suspension order. Specifically, Armstrong was ordered to notify her clients, opposing counsel and the courts of her status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of her suspension order. (Case No. SC14-2506)

Jean J. Barnett, 221 S.E. Osceola St., Stuart, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter, following a Jan. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) A compliance audit resulted from a notice to The Florida Bar, from a bank, indicating that Barnett’s trust account had insufficient funds. The audit determined that Barnett was negligent in her bookkeeping and failed to maintain all of the required minimum trust account records and procedures. (Case No. SC14-2478)

David Jay Bernstein, 660 East Hillsboro Blvd., Deerfield Beach, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter, following a Feb. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Bernstein failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee, who subsequently was prosecuted for Unlicensed Practice of Law. Also, Bernstein’s law office disseminated a direct mail advertisement that was not filed with The Florida Bar for review 20 days in advance, as required. The trades names used on the direct mail letter, “Federal Legal Center” and “Federal Criminal Defense Center,” could be considered misleading and deceptive, implying a connection with a government agency. (Case No. SC14-966)

John Neil Buso, P.O. Box 15414, West Palm Beach, suspended for nine months, effective 30 days from a Feb. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1975) Between 2004 and 2007, Buso failed to file all the payroll tax returns and statements with the Internal Revenue Service for an employee who’d worked for him for 20 years. During the same seven-year period, Buso failed to pay Social Security taxes to the IRS for the employee. (Case No. SC14-1444)

James Newell Charles, 1420 Celebration Blvd., Suite 200, Celebration, suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a Feb. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) Charles placed fraudulent material facts (exhibits) before the federal court to enhance the value of a case. Further, Charles did not make the client’s claims in good faith and with full disclosure, causing the client to lose his right to recovery, when he would have been entitled to receive some compensation for his damages. (Case No. SC13-1382)

Lillian Clover, P.O. Box 5305, Titusville, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from a Feb. 12 court order and upon reinstatement, placed on probation for two years. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Clover did not maintain the required trust account records nor did she regularly perform the mandatory trust accounting procedures. Clover improperly maintained personal funds in her trust account and as a result of inadequate record keeping, she made disbursements from her trust account that exceeded the personal funds held in account. In another matter, Clover failed to provide competent and diligent representation in a post-conviction matter. (Case No. SC14-1576)

Daniel Mark Cohen, P.O. Box 1011, West Palm Beach, to be publicly reprimanded and suspended for 10 days following a Feb. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Although it was properly noticed, Cohen knowingly and intentionally failed to attend a client’s resentencing hearing. He also made no effort to contact the judge to explain his absence. (Case No. SC12-2724)

Christopher Jordan Dale, 1718 E. 7th Ave., Suite 201, Tampa, to be publicly reprimanded following a Jan. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Dale was retained on Aug. 20, 2010, to file an amended motion or notice of appearance for a client. He had not done so by the time the court ruled on Dec. 9, 2010. (Case No. SC14-2435)

Jeffrey Wayne Day, 13 Mountain View Road, Flint Hill, Va., suspended for 91 days, effective immediately, following a Feb. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Day did not adequately communicate the amount of his fee in a contingency case or properly disperse settlement proceeds. He failed to provide his client with a contingency agreement, statement of client's rights and failed to return the client's phone calls or inform him that he had moved out-of-state. Day also had to hire a collection agency to obtain the remainder of his settlement. (Case No. SC14-1260)

Peggy Lynne Diorio, 222 Lakeview Ave. #16C-298, West Palm Beach, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following a Dec. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1989) Diorio was found in contempt for continuing to practice law while ineligible. She failed to comply with the terms of a Dec. 19, 2002, order in which the Florida Supreme Court approved Diorio’s petition for disciplinary resignation and allowed her to resign with leave to apply in five years. Disciplinary resignation is tantamount to disbarment. (Case No. SC14-1918)

Adam James Ellis, Florida Department of Transportation, 605 Suwannee St. MS58, Tallahassee, to be publicly reprimanded and further placed on probation for three years, following a Feb. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Ellis pleaded no contest to assault and harassment charges in Oregon. In two other instances, Ellis engaged in inappropriate behavior that showed a lack of fitness and character as a member of the legal profession. (Case No. SC14-700)

Marcia Vestylena Forsett, 11 Elkhorn Drive, Frostproof, suspended for 91 days, effective immediately, following a Feb. 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Forsett was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a Sept. 4, 2014, court order. Specifically, Forsett was ordered to notify her clients, opposing counsel and the courts of her status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of her suspension order. (Case No. SC14-2464)

Cristina Franca G. Fuschi, 1713 Foster Ave., Panama City, suspended for two years, effective 30 days from a Feb. 12 court order. Further, Fuschi shall enter into a new three-year contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. (Admitted to practice: 1997) A Florida Bar investigation revealed that Fuschi has had numerous arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Her driver’s license was permanently revoked on April 3, 2012, as a result of being found guilty of four more DUI charges. Since 2002, Fuschi has failed to report any of the criminal arrests and convictions to The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC14-1362)

Janice L. Jennings, P.O. Box 103, West Palm Beach, suspended for 91 days, effective immediately, and indefinitely thereafter, until she complies with the terms and conditions set forth in a Feb. 19 court order and demonstrates rehabilitation. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Jennings refused The Florida Bar’s request that she schedule a mental health evaluation with Florida Lawyers Assistance. The request came after the Bar learned of a written filing and statements in which Jennings advised the court, among other things, that her former employer had caused the implantation of a microchip in her left ear that was designed to harm and disrupt her ability to function. (Case No. SC14-1218)

Jeffrey Michael Lasman, P.O. Box 1907, Brandon, disbarred effective immediately, following a Feb. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Lasman was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a March 6, 2014 suspension order and practiced law while suspended. Also, he was required to send notice of his suspension to all clients, opposing counsel and courts for all pending matters. (Case No. SC15-127)

Neal Randolph Lewis, 7370 S.W. 154th Terrace, Palmetto Bay. The court granted Lewis a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately, following a Feb. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1978) Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. A Florida Bar emergency suspension case was pending against Lewis, regarding allegations of misappropriation of client funds. (Case No. SC14-2413)

Manuel R. Lopez, 770 Ponce de Leon Blvd., PH Suite, Coral Gables, suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a Feb. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Lopez was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of an Oct. 15, 2014, suspension order. Specifically, Lopez was ordered to notify his clients, opposing counsel and the courts of his status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of his suspension order. (Case No. SC15-130)

Brenda L. McCann, 4237 Salisbury Road, Suite 400, Jacksonville. The court granted McCann a permanent disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission, effective immediately, following an Oct. 30, 2014, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. McCann had several cases pending related to her loan modification and foreclosure defense practice as well as her debt settlement practice. (Case No. SC14-1670)

Paul William Moses II, 861 Nottingham St., Orlando, disbarred effective retroactive to April 9, 2012, following a Feb. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) By Supreme Court Order in SC11-1218, dated March 8, 2012, Moses was suspended from the practice of law for 91 days, effective 30 days from the date of that order. In violation of the March 8, 2012 suspension order, he took on new client matters after that date. (SC14-1833)

James L. Padgett, P.O. Box 1816, Palatka. The court granted Padgett a permanent disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission, effective retroactive to Sept. 30, 2014, following a Dec. 18, 2014, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1969) Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. Padgett had disciplinary charges pending in one case related to trust account violations. (Case No. SC14-1934)

Sarah Michelle Pashaee, 124 Hanging Moss Drive, Oviedo, suspended for three years, effective immediately, following a Feb. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Pashaee was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a June 19, 2014, suspension order. Specifically, Pashaee was ordered to notify her clients, opposing counsel and the courts of her status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of her suspension order. She also failed to submit the required fee arbitration application. (Case No. SC14-1867)

Alexis Michelle Rabbani, 3009 N.E. 183rd Lane, Aventura, suspended for three years, effective immediately, following a Feb. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) After receiving notice from The Florida Bar, Rabbani failed to appear at a final disciplinary hearing. She had cases pending for failure to provide competent representation to clients after being retained. In several instances, Rabbani failed to communicate with clients and The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC14-1004)

Charles Erickson Rutherford, 2101 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Suite 206, Boca Raton, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter, following a Feb. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1971) Instead of holding client funds in trust, Rutherford deposited them into his operating account to reimburse the law firm for filing and related fees on numerous foreclosure actions. (Case No. SC14-2479)

Ankur R. Sevak, P.O. Box 30, Fort Lauderdale. The court granted Sevak a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective Jan. 1, following a Dec. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. Sevak entered into a plea agreement in circuit court to possession of methamphetamine and butanediol as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. Both possession charges are felonies and the paraphernalia charge is a misdemeanor. (Case No. SC14-1944)

Michael J. Silver, 1650 S. Dixie Highway, Suite 300, Boca Raton, suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a Feb. 12 court order. Further, Silver shall enter into binding fee arbitration with a former client. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Silver charged an excessive fee to the client of $275,000 for approximately six weeks of work and upon termination, refused to refund any portion of the fee. (Case No. SC14-1066)

Paul Bradford Woods, 1221 Brickell Ave., Fl. 9, Suite 900, Miami, suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a Feb. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) Woods was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of June 25, 2014, suspension order. Specifically, Woods was ordered to notify his clients, opposing counsel and the courts of his status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of his suspension order. (Case No. SC14-2128)

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EDITORS: Please note The Florida Bar is not an association and "Association" is not part of our name. Proper reference is "The Florida Bar." Local bar organizations are properly termed "associations."

[Revised: 09-04-2015]