The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org

SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 27 ATTORNEYS


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2011
CONTACT:
Karen Y. Kirksey; kkirksey@flabar.org,
The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE:
(850) 561-5766


Summary of orders issued Jan. 4 – Feb. 3, 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 27 attorneys, disbarring seven and suspending 15. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. Two attorneys were placed on probation; five attorneys were publicly reprimanded. 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 90,000-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 five percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.

Nathan Adler, 13620 Gulf Breeze St., Fort Myers, suspended for two years, effective retroactive to July 12, 2010, following a Jan. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) In numerous cases, Adler was paid to represent clients and he failed to adequately do so. He often failed to communicate, failed to remit fees paid by clients and failed to respond to Bar inquiries regarding client grievances. (Case No. SC10-1494)

Gabrielle Alexis, 4613 N. University Drive #558, Coral Springs, suspended for 91 days, effective immediately, following a Jan. 26 court order, for non-compliance. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Alexis was placed on emergency suspension on August 4, 2010. She was the subject of several Bar disciplinary investigations regarding the misappropriation of client funds. Alexis failed to furnish the Bar with a sworn affidavit, as required within 30 days of the suspension order, listing the names of all persons and entities to which she gave notice of her suspension and provided a copy of the order. (Case No. SC10-2115)

Dania Arencibia, 5225 Linden Road, Apt. 7308, Rockford, Ill., suspended for 10 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 25 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Arencibia was arrested for Driving Under the Influence in Sept. 2009 after colliding with another vehicle. No one was injured. Arencibia was convicted of a misdemeanor and placed on six months of reporting probation, which included attending DUI school and performing 50 hours of community service. (Case No. SC10-2385)

Leon Becerra, Jr., 6780 Coral Way, Miami, disbarred for 10 years, effective immediately, following a Jan. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Becerra misappropriated and/or diverted client funds. He absconded and did not participate in the disciplinary proceedings. (Case No. SC10-1435)

John Lyon Broling, P.O. Box 2698, Lake City, suspended for 60 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Broling, who was also admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, failed to comply with rules of the court and failed to respond with regard to three unrelated appeals. (Case No. SC10-1520)

Raymond O. Burger, 3200 Marilyn Drive, Moore, Okla., suspended for 15 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Burger was hired to represent a client in a workers' compensation matter, but he failed to represent the client with reasonable diligence and promptness. Burger also failed to keep the client reasonably informed and he failed to appear at a hearing. Burger did not respond to the Bar's inquiries regarding the client's complaint. (Case No. SC10-1521)

Patrick Cicalese, 129 Center St., Jupiter, disbarred effective immediately, following a Jan. 25 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) In June, Cicalese was adjudicated guilty in federal district court in New York, of three illegal gambling-related felonies. He was sentenced to three years probation on each count, fined $10,000 and assessed a $300.00 special assessment charge. Cicalese was also ordered to forfeit his interest in at least $4 million obtained as a result of the gambling offenses. (Case No. SC10-1331)

David Gordon Cornell, 6510 Brava Way, Boca Raton, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Cornell was a defendant in a civil case in which he continually refused to respond or comply with court orders. He subsequently failed to respond to Bar inquires regarding the matter. (Case No. SC10-787)

Richard Mark Creel, 15275 Collier Blvd., Suite 201-218, Naples, disbarred effective 30 days from Jan. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1987) Creel was retained to represent a client in a child custody matter. He stopped working on the case and stopped communicating with the client. When the client was finally able to reach Creel, she learned he had relocated to another state. Creel agreed to continue working on the case and handle the trial in Florida, but demanded an additional $2,250 to cover travel expenses. After accepting the money, Creel failed to perform any more work and failed to communicate with the client. He also failed to appear at the trial and failed to respond to the Bar's correspondence regarding the grievance. (Case SC10-1288)

James Daniel Eckert, 447 3rd Ave. N., Suite 304, St. Petersburg, publicly reprimanded following a Jan. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1965) Eckert wrote a letter to a complainant threatening to sue him unless he withdrew his Bar complaint and apologized in a letter. (Case No. SC10-1308)

George Michael Evans, 1500 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Fl. 2, Coral Gables, suspended until further order, following a Jan. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Evans appeared to be causing great public harm. Beginning in March 2007, Evans misappropriated funds in at least three cases, including transferring client funds from his trust account to his operating and personal accounts. (Case No. SC11-91)

Brett Feinstein, 407 Lincoln Road, Suite 2A, Miami Beach, suspended for six months, effective 40 days from a Jan. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Feinstein, in a management role, expanded the law firm practice into the area of debt negotiation assistance. The firm contracted with a non-legal back office service provider to handle the administrative functions of the debt negation practice. That entity improperly engaged in the direct solicitation of clients. An audit further revealed that the firm engaged in improper fee sharing with the back office provider. (Case No. SC10-2374)

Thomas P. Fox, 3825 Henderson Blvd., Suite 604, Tampa, suspended for 45 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 19 court order. Fox is further placed on probation for three years. (Admitted to practice: 1976) Fox failed to diligently represent clients in seven separate cases. In many instances, he failed to keep them reasonably informed about the status of matters, charged excessive fees and failed to communicate. He also failed to maintain complete trust account records. (Case No. SC10-937)

David Eric Hammer, 1640 Wallace Road, Lutz, publicly reprimanded following a Jan. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) While representing clients in two separate cases, Hammer acted contrary to his obligation as an officer of the court. In one instance, he failed to participate in discovery, submitted a proposed order without advising the court of opposing counsel's objection and without copying opposing counsel on the proposed order, and failed to appear at a deposition after the court denied his motion to withdraw. In another instance, he raised a meritless objection in bankruptcy court, without evidence to support the objection. (Case No. SC10-938)

Bruce Gregory Kaufmann, 1564 Oakadia Lane, disbarred effective immediately, following a Jan. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Kaufmann engaged in an intentional pattern of obtaining fees, controlling assets and forcing individuals to pay him before he would resign as trustee. He committed multiple acts of charging excessive fees, conflict of interest and using information obtained through his attorney-client relationships to his benefit and to the detriment of his clients. (Case No. SC09-574)

Mark Howard Klein, 2263 N.W. Boca Raton Blvd., Suite 209, Boca Raton, publicly reprimanded following a Jan. 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) Klein failed to respond to any of The Florida Bar's official disciplinary inquiries in a timely manner. (Case No. SC10-1660)

Warren Jay Knaust, 530 49th St. S., Saint Petersburg, disbarred retroactive to Sept. 29, 2010, following a Jan. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1976) In August 2010, Knaust pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution, a felony. (Case No. SC10-1681)

Stanley Jay Lieberfarb, 270 3rd Ave. N., Naples, suspended for six months, effective 30 days from a Jan. 27 court order. Lieberfarb is further ordered to pay restitution totaling $185,000 to three separate clients. (Admitted to practice: 1974) Lieberfarb served as attorney and escrow agent in three separate real estate transactions that subsequently defaulted. In each instance, he had erroneously released the funds to the seller, so he was no longer holding the escrowed funds to return to the buyers. (Case No. SC10-1034)

Miroslaw Thomas Lobasz, 1106 N. G. Street, Suite D, Lake Worth, disbarred effective immediately, following a Feb. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Lobasz violated a suspension order of March 7, 2008, which prevented him from practicing law. Nevertheless, Lobasz practiced law after his suspension took effect by appearing at an immigration hearing on behalf of a former client. (Case No. SC08-1105)

Carolyn Dianne Olive, P.O. Box 13949, Tallahassee, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Jan. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Olive is the subject of six Bar disciplinary matters, in which she abandoned her clients and refused to return phone calls, e-mails or letters. In some instances, Olive failed to file court documents or failed to create documents at all. (Case No. SC11-148)

Michael Tyron Rayne, 475 Harrison Ave., Suite 204A, Panama City, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) While representing a client in a personal injury case, Rayne executed an "Attorney Acknowledgment and Understanding" agreement with a Legal Finance company, but initially failed to disburse proceeds to the company in compliance with the terms. (Case No. SC10-1146)

Jodie Michele Siegel, 8845 Lake Park Circle S., Davie, suspended for 30 days, effective immediately, following a Jan. 25 court order. Further, Siegel is placed on probation for one year. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Siegel was arrested for shoplifting. Charges were dropped after she entered into a deferred prosecution agreement that required her to obtain mental health counseling, and complete an anti-theft course and 40 hours of community service. (Case No. SC10-2386)

Claudine Tanecca Smikle, P.O. Box 101084, Fort Lauderdale, disbarred effective 30 days from a Jan. 25 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Smikle violated trust accounting rules regulating The Florida Bar. A client filed a grievance against Smikle alleging that monies being held by her were not properly forwarded. She was charged with trust account irregularities. (Case No. SC10-2384)

Douglas David Stratton, 407 Lincoln Road, Suite 2A, Miami Beach, suspended for 30 days, effective 15 days from a Jan. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Stratton's practice expanded into the area of debt negotiation assistance. The firm contracted with a non-legal back office service provider to handle the administrative functions of the debt negotiation practice. That employee improperly engaged in the direct solicitation of clients. An audit further revealed that the firm engaged in improper fee sharing with the back office provider. (Case No. SC10-2373)

James M. Thomas, 1581 Main Street, Dunedin, publicly reprimanded following a Jan. 5 court order. Thomas is further directed to complete ethics school. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Thomas was found guilty of professional misconduct for failing to keep a client reasonably informed and reasonably consulted about mean's to accomplish the client's objectives. (Case No. SC10-1085)

Stephen G. Watts, 1446 Court Street, Clearwater, publicly reprimanded following a Jan. 25, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1969) Watts received a Conditional Guilty Plea for Consent Judgment for violating a rule regulating The Florida Bar. Watts allowed his legal assistant to prepare a trust document for a long-time client and friend who insisted on making bequests to him and his wife. (Case No. SC10-827)

Donald Louis West, Jr., 352 Baywood Drive, Newport Beach, Calif., suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a Jan. 25 court order. Further, West shall pay restitution totaling $6,400 to two clients. (Admitted to practice: 2001) West has been found guilty of violations including: lack of diligence, lack of communication, illegal or clearly excessive fees and costs, and engaging in dishonest, fraudulent and deceitful conduct. On multiple occasions, he failed to respond in writing to any official inquiry by Bar counsel. (Case No. SC10-1223)

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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: 02-28-2011]