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The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org

SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 31 ATTORNEYS


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2012
CONTACT:
Karen Y. Kirksey; kkirksey@flabar.org,
The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE:
(850) 561-5766


Summaries of orders issued between Sept. 7 – Dec. 22, 2011

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 31 attorneys, disbarring 12 and suspending 15. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. One attorney was placed on probation; four attorneys were publicly reprimanded and two attorneys were 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 93,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida. Since Aug. 1, 2007, case files have been posted to attorneys' individual Florida Bar profiles and may be reviewed at and/or downloaded from The Florida Bar's website, www.floridabar.org.

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, fewer than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.

Julio Antonio Nolla-Amado, 6856 W. Flagler St., Floor 2, Miami, publicly reprimanded and further, placed on probation for one year, following a Nov. 18, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) A Bar review revealed problems with Nolla-Amado’s trust account records, which resulted after his non-lawyer employee was granted signatory authority over his trust account. Nolla-Amado failed to supervise the non-lawyer employee, enabling her to make improper use of the trust account. In addition, Nolla-Amado failed to follow minimum trust accounting requirements by failing to reconcile his trust account on a monthly basis and failing to maintain complete client ledger cards, among other things. (Case No. SC11-2112)

Sebastian John Balliro, 101 N.E. 3rd Ave. Suite 1500, Fort Lauderdale, suspended until further order, following a Sept. 7, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Balliro appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating trust funds or property. On two separate occasions, Balliro withdrew money from his law firm’s trust account without the consent or knowledge of his law partner -- $96,000 and $130,000. He also failed to maintain certain trust accounting records and follow mandatory trust accounting procedures. (Case No. SC11-866)

Kevin Jay Byrne, 1451 W. Cypress Creek Road, Suite 300, Fort Lauderdale, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following a Dec. 14, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001). Byrne was found in contempt for failure to respond to comply with the terms of his June 23, 2011, disbarment. Byrne did not submit to the Bar a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities to which he gave notice of his disbarment. (Case Nos. SC11-1716)

John Patrick Clement, 500 Marbella Circle, North Palm Beach, disbarred effective immediately, following a Dec. 20, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Clement was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of his 2008 suspension and subsequent probation. While on probation, Clement was convicted of DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. (Case No. SC11-962)

Richard Timothy Cotter, 6100 Estero Blvd., P.O. Box 6868, Fort Myers, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following an Oct. 7, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1976) Cotter was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of a January 2011 disbarment order. Cotter did not submit to the Bar a required list of persons/entities to which he gave notice of his disbarment. (SC11-963)

Russell Flynn Crump, 4404 N.W. 36th Ave., Suite B, Gainesville, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from an Oct. 14, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) In September 2011, Crump pleaded no contest to one count of child abuse, a third degree felony and was adjudicated guilty. He failed to notify The Florida Bar of the felony charges as required. (SC11-1988)

Bruce Garrett Duncan, 1300 Citizens Blvd., Suite 300, Leesburg, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from an Oct. 14, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Duncan was found guilty in court of one count of DUI manslaughter, a second degree felony. He was sentenced to more than 120 months in prison, followed by three years of probation and community control. (Case No. SC11-1997)

Mark Fleming Fisher, 327 Laura Lane, Mount Dora, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Dec. 20, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Prior to petitioning for reinstatement, Fisher shall obtain a recommendation from Florida Lawyer’s Assistance, Inc., that he is fit to resume practicing law. In two separate cases, Fisher failed to adequately represent clients after being retained. (Case No. SC11-1181)

Doreen M. Goldbronn, 2190 Bancroft Place, Apt. D, Palm Harbor, suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a Dec. 22, 2011 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Goldbronn overcharged a client by $6,700 in an administration of trust matter. (Case No. SC11-1019)

Claude Robert Graham, 3165 McCrory Place, Suite 151, Orlando, suspended for three years, effective immediately, following a Dec. 22, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Graham had shortages in his trust account, caused by negligence. He failed to maintain proper trust account records and he failed to follow proper trust accounting procedures. (Case No. SC11-1309)

James Bennett Grocock, 3208C E. Colonial Drive, No. 276, Orlando, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a Dec. 22, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Based on Grocock’s offer of settlement, the Securities and Exchange Commission suspended him from practicing or appearing before the SEC for an unspecified period of time. The SEC had filed a complaint against Grocock, alleging he engaged in securities fraud. (Case No. SC11-1430)

Betsy Sabrina Holton, 24322 Lanning Drive, Katy, Texas, publicly reprimanded following a Dec. 22, 2011, court order. Further, Holton shall pay restitution of $750 to one client. (Admitted to practice: 2001) After being retained to handle a case involving an estate, Holton failed to communicate with the client. (Case No. SC11-1864)

Robert J. Hughes Jr., 800 Boylston Street, Boston, disbarred effective immediately, following a Dec. 22, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Hughes formed a business with a longtime friend and ignored the terms of his partnership agreement with his law firm. In another matter, Hughes made several misrepresentations to a client regarding the purchase of stock. Hughes also failed to timely respond to a client complaint and he failed to respond to the Grievance Committee’s numerous requests for information. (Case No. SC11-1297)

Charles Matthew Hutt, 1942 Lenox Road N.E., Atlanta, suspended for 45 days, effective Jan. 3, following a Dec. 22, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Upon the orders of his employer, Hutt, then a new attorney, signed the name of a consulting attorney on attorney fee affidavits. The sitting judge recognized the signature as a forgery and brought it to the attention of The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC11-1992)

Jonathan Douglas Lack, 909 S. Miramar Ave, Indialantic, publicly reprimanded following a Nov. 18, 2011, court order. Further, Lack shall pay restitution of $10,752 to one client. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Lack entered into a business transaction with a client while representing him. In addition to the retainer, Lack also received a $211,000 loan from the client to purchase a condominium. While the client held the mortgage, Lack initiated the note and mortgage and completed the transaction without the required written disclosures and consents from the client. Lack subsequently failed to pay the property taxes and related fees on the condo. He also failed to make payments on the note involving the borrowed funds. (Case No. SC11-46)

Scott Douglas Leemis, 13896 Waterchase Way, Jacksonville, suspended for 10 days, effective Jan. 20, following a Dec. 15, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) After being retained, Leemis failed to communicate with the client. (Case No. SC11-442)

Alan Martin Medof, 4355 N.W. 4th Ave., Pompano Beach, suspended for 60 days, effective 30 days from a Dec. 20, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1969) Medof was retained to represent clients, but he failed to communicate with them and he failed to comply with court deadlines and directives. Medof subsequently was relieved of his duties by the court, allowing the clients to hire new counsel. Medof was previously suspended for failing to answer Bar inquiries regarding the case. He failed to timely notify clients of his prior suspension and failed to timely file an affidavit with the Bar. (Case Nos. SC11-599 & SC11-1388)

Gregory Ernest Monaldi, 975 Seven Hills Drive, Apt. 3016, Henderson, Nev., disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 1, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Monaldi was found in contempt for repeatedly ignoring court orders. He failed to comply with the terms of four suspensions, and he failed to comply with a subpoena and Bar inquiries. A Bar audit revealed that Mondaldi received settlement checks on behalf of clients and deposited them without obtaining the clients’ signatures. In one case, he misappropriated at least $12,456 due to medical providers. (Case No. SC11-1146)

Dominyka Mindaougas Netchiounas, P.O. Box 21794, Tampa, suspended for 91 days, effective immediately, retroactive to June 23, 2011, following a Nov. 18, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) A client paid Netchiounas $2,800 plus costs to represent her in an immigration matter. When her application was denied, the client paid Netchiounas $1,500 to conduct additional research. After months of waiting to hear from Netchiounas, the client requested the return of her file documents and a refund of the $1,500. Netchiounas never responded and the client subsequently retained new counsel to resolve her immigrations status. Netchiounas told the Bar she left all her files in the office when she closed her practice. (Case No. SC11-1234

Nilesh Magan Patel, 2024 W. Cleveland St., Tampa, permanently disbarred, effective immediately, following an Oct. 7, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Patel was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of an April 6, 2011, disbarment order. He was required to submit to the Bar a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities to which he gave notice of his disbarment. Patel was also ordered to pay restitution of $10,500 to a client by May 6, 2011. (Case No. SC-1085)

John Steele Patterson, 4404 3rd Ave. E., Bradenton, disbarred effective immediately, following a Dec. 22, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) In December 2009, Patterson became ineligible to practice law because he was delinquent in paying disciplinary costs of more than $1,850. When he was retained to represent a client in a child custody action, he did not inform her that he was ineligible to practice law. Patterson told the client that he had filed documents in her case and had forwarded her copies by mail, when in fact he had not. Patterson failed to respond to Bar inquiries regarding the client. Patterson subsequently became delinquent in his continuing education requirements and in paying his annual membership fees. (Case No. SC11-911)

Pablo Perez, 6251 S.W. 58 th St., South Miami, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 16, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) The Florida Bar received 11 separate complaints against Perez from former clients. The clients claimed that they had retained Perez to represent them in various legal matters, for which they paid fees, but he failed to provide any services on their behalf and ultimately abandoned their cases. Perez failed to advise his clients that he had closed his practice. Correspondence mailed to him by the Bar was returned as unclaimed. (Case No. SC11-650)

John Hasan Ruiz, 5040 N.W. 7 th St., Ph. 1, Miami, publicly reprimanded following a Nov. 18, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) A tenant fell and was injured at an apartment complex owned by Ruiz. When she asked for insurance information, Ruiz told her that the co-owner had allowed the insurance policy on the property to lapse, and therefore, that the apartment was uninsured. Ruiz subsequently sold the apartment for more than $2 million and received $375,000 of income from the closing. When the tenant's case went to trial, Ruiz failed to disclose that he was a director and 50 percent shareholder of the owner corporation, and that the corporation had sold its only asset, the apartment complex. The court subsequently ruled in the injured party’s favor, and Ruiz paid her judgement and attorneys fees in excess of $200,000 from his personal funds. (Case No. SC11-1011)

Francis X. Santana, Township of Boquete Chiriqui Province, Republic of Panama, Panama, disbarred effective 30 days from an Oct. 6, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Santana served as a settlement agent for a real estate transaction. In exchange for preparing, filing and recording a Mortgage Deed and Note and a Warranty Deed, he received $925 in settlement charges. Santana’s failure to record the mortgage deed and note resulted in the sale of the property to another buyer. Santana also failed to respond to official Bar inquiries. (Case No. SC10-2435)

Scott Alan Schieb, 747 N. Washington Blvd., Sarasota, disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 22, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) During the course of a review of his trust account by the Bar, Schieb disclosed that he had misappropriated more than $200,000 in client funds since 2007. (Case No. SC11-2175)

Benjamin Rosen Schulman, 4340 Sheridan St., Suite 102, Hollywood, suspended until further order, effective immediately, following an Oct. 25, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Schulman appeared to be causing great public harm. A final judgment in a civil suit, found that Schulman knowingly committed at least two fraudulent acts having to do with the sale and transfer of property. The judgment against Schulman totaled more than $10 million. (Case No. SC11-1871)

Marc Allen Shelowitz, 208 S.E. 6th St., Fort Lauderdale, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following an Oct. 21, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Shelowitz was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of a May 26, 2011, disbarment order. He was required to submit to the Bar a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities to which he gave notice of his disbarment. (Case No. SC11-1475)

James L. Soule, 7515 W. Oakland Park Blvd. No. 100, Fort Lauderdale, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following an Oct. 20, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Soule was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of an April 21, 2011, disbarment order. He failed to submit to the Bar a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities to which he gave notice of his disbarment. (Case No. SC11-1607)

David Andrew Taylor III, 233 E. Bay St., Suite 1020, Jacksonville, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 18, 2011, court order. Taylor is further directed to attend ethics school. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Taylor made a $2,000 client check payable to himself and deposited it into his own account even though he knew it was intended for another attorney. (Case NO. SC11-306)

Joseph Anthony Tsombanidis, 905 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 630, Tarpon Springs, suspended until further order, following an Oct. 27, 2011 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Tsombanidis appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client trust funds. Tsombanidis engaged in an escalating pattern of failure to account for and deliver funds belonging to clients and third parties. He engaged in an intentional pattern of signing up clients in order to obtain fees of large sums to be held in trust. He failed to perform agreed upon legal services, and failed to hold funds in his trust account. (Case No. SC11-1872)

William Bedord Watson III, 4131 N.W. 28th Lane, Suite 2, Gainesville, suspended for three years, effective retroactive to October 1, 2009, following a Dec. 8, 2011 court order. Watson deliberately and knowingly engaged in misconduct involving funds belonging to third-party investors. He intentionally disbursed thousands of dollars without their knowledge or consent. (Case No. SC09-2022)

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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.

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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: 04-12-2012]