SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 15 ATTORNEYS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2017
CONTACT: Public Information Department,
The Florida Bar
Summaries of orders issued – Jan. 5 – 23, 2017
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 15 attorneys – disbarring two, revoking the licenses of two, suspending nine, and publicly reprimanding two. Two attorneys were also 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 104,000-plus members of The Florida Bar. 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.
Sholom Boyer, 2221 N.E. 164th St., Suite 1244, North Miami Beach, to receive a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective retroactive to Feb. 21, 2016, following a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Boyer included misappropriation of client funds and failure to communicate with the client. (Case No. SC16-2081)
Avery Spencer Chapman, 12008 Southshore Blvd., Suite 107, Wellington, to be publicly reprimanded by publication, following a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Further, Chapman shall attend a trust accounting workshop. Chapman represented a client in varied business and personal matters, who wired substantial monies into his trust account during an approximate three-year period from which Chapman was authorized to draw his compensation. When the client relationship ended, Chapman undertook an accounting and discovered a shortfall, which he promptly disclosed and fully reimbursed to the client. A Bar audit found no evidence of intentional misappropriation, but that he was negligent with bookkeeping and commingled client trust funds. (Case No. SC16-2258)
George Joseph Charnota, 55 Merrick Way, Suite 212, Coral Gables, suspended for 18 months, effective retroactive to April 12, 2016, following a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Further, Charnota shall pay restitution of $8,500 to two clients. After being retained in separate cases, Charnota failed to diligently represent clients. In one instance, he did not file a brief by the deadline and the appeal was dismissed. In another matter, he was fired and another attorney hired, because he did not file a motion as agreed. Charnota did not respond to letters from The Florida Bar regarding the matters. (Case No. SC16-1013)
Robert Steven Cohen, 3049 Cleveland Ave., Suite 259, Fort Myers, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) Cohen engaged in a sexual relationship with a client he represented in a bankruptcy case. When a trustee found that the client withheld certain information in the case, Cohen withdrew representation and the client was forced to hire a new attorney. (Case No. SC16-2251)
Fatima Rita dos Santos Fahmy, 715 Delaney Park Drive, Orlando, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Jan. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Fahmy was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of a Dec. 3, 2015, court order. Specifically, as a condition of her probation, Fahmy was required to attend and complete ethics school and a stress management workshop by June 3, 2016. Fahmy also failed to undergo a review by the Discipline/Diversion Consultation Service of The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC16-1829)
Bruce Charles Fehr, P.O. Box 1031, Coleman, disbarred effective immediately, following a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Fehr pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia to one count of child pornography. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison. (Case No. SC16-1173)
Jonathan Paltiel Flom, P.O. Box 1163, Palm Beach, to receive a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately, following a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Flom involved a conviction in federal court for money laundering. (Case No. SC16-2138)
Carol Lynn Benson Kendall, 2719 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 164, Hollywood, suspended until further order, effective immediately, following a Jan. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Kendall was found in contempt for non-compliance and failure to respond to an official Bar inquiry. (Case No. SC16-2110)
Donald Richard Kerner, Jr., P.O. Box 901086, Homestead, suspended for three years, effective 30 days from a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) In three separate matters, Kerner failed to diligently represent clients. Kerner received a settlement of $25,000 on behalf of a client, but on several occasions, the account balance fell below that amount. He also failed to timely disburse the proceeds to the client. Kerner failed to properly maintain trust account records, and he failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of a case. (Case No. SC16-1034)
Katherine M. Mohr, 23150 Fashion Drive, Suite 232, Estero, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Mohr was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of a July 28, 2016, court order. Specifically, Mohr was required to notify her clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of her suspension, and provide the Bar within 30 days a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that were furnished a copy of her suspension order. (Case No. SC16-1986)
Alexandra Rodriguez, 4400 N. Federal Highway, Suite 210, Boca Raton, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) After being retained, Rodriguez failed to diligently represent a client. In several instances, Rodriguez knowingly misinformed the client about the status of a case. When the client confronted Rodriguez about the discrepancy between what was in the court’s file and what she was being told, the attorney said she was withdrawing from the case. (Case No. SC16-2235)
Teddy Sliwinski, 5800 Fleet Ave., Cleveland, Ohio, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following a Jan. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) In several instances, Sliwinski misappropriated client funds, and he repeatedly paid for personal and business expenses out of his Interest on Lawyers Trust Account. (Case No. SC16-1008)
Eduardo Rigoberto Soto, 999 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Suite 1040, Coral Gables, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter, following a Jan. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Soto was negligent in the handling of an immigration case, leaving the client with just days to file an appeal or seek some alternate form of relief. (Case No. SC16-2243)
Pamela Bruce Stuart, 5115 Yuma St. N.W., Washington, D.C., suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a Jan. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) After being appointed by her father as trustee to his trust, Stuart breached her fiduciary duties by failing to provide the required annual accountings and loaning herself substantial funds to assist in carrying out the trust’s responsibilities and her own living and medical expenses. (Case No. SC16-2204)
Vito Torchia, Jr., 8033 W. Sunset Blvd., Suite 819, Los Angeles, Calif., suspended for three years, effective 30 days from a Jan. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Further, Torchia shall pay restitution of more than $25,000 to at least three clients. After being retained and receiving advance fees, Torchia failed to provide competent representation. In some instances he failed to add clients as plaintiffs in mass joinder litigation; he failed to provide legal services; he failed to appear; and he failed to communicate. Upon being terminated by clients, Torchia also failed to promptly return unearned fees. (Case No. SC16-1267)
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."