SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 17 ATTORNEYS
Summaries of orders issued from January 28, 2021, to February 18, 2021
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 17 attorneys, disbarring three, revoking the licenses of one, suspending 10 and reprimanding three.
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 more than 108,000 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. 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 includes a rigorous background check and retaking the Bar exam.
Attorneys suspended for periods of 91 days and longer must undergo a rigorous process to regain their law licenses including proving rehabilitation.
Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.
Curtis Lee Allen, P.O. Box 16553, Temple Terrace, public reprimand and directed to attend Professionalism Workshop effective immediately following a Feb. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) In one matter, Allen became unprofessional in his questioning of a witness who he believed was repeatedly lying. In another case, the trial court entered an order stating it had to intervene and set case management directives for both Allen and opposing counsel due to their unprofessional behavior toward each other. In a third matter, the trial court entered an order finding that Allen engaged in unprofessional and aggressive behavior. (Case No: SC20-1470)
William Robert Amlong, 500 N.E. 4 St., Suite 200, Fort Lauderdale, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a Feb. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Amlong failed to properly supervise his associate and failed to take action to ensure that his associate complied with discovery requests and honestly advise the parties and the court of the facts. Amlong acted in bad faith in pursuing frivolous claims and concealing evidence in a manner that vexatiously multiplied the proceedings. (Case No: SC17-150)
Carl Robert Anderson, 5627 W. Cavedale Dr., Phoenix, AZ, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a Feb. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) In Arizona, Anderson represented a homeowners association that was managed by a property management company. He allowed the employees of that company to perform secretarial and paralegal work for him. In some instances, the work was for cases unrelated to the HOA matters. In cases, Anderson failed to timely respond to discovery requests and failed to notify the clients of the requests. Judgments were subsequently entered against his clients and he failed to notify them of the judgments. This is a reciprocal discipline action based on the order filed by the State Bar of Arizona. (Case No: SC19-422)
Brandon Joshua Barker, 3300 S. Dixie Hwy., Suite 1-775, West Palm Beach, suspended effective 30 days following a Feb. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2012) The Florida Supreme Court ordered Barker to show cause by Dec. 28, 2020. Barker failed to file a response and was held in contempt and suspended until he has fully responded in writing to an official Bar inquiry. (Case No: SC20-1790)
Jennifer E. Daley, 500 N.E. 4 St., Fl. 2, Fort Lauderdale, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a Feb. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Daley made false statements to opposing counsel, failed to disclose material facts and obstructed opposing counsel’s access to evidence. She also acted in bad faith in violation of 28 U.S.C. §1927. (Case No: SC17-142)
David A. Fernandez, 4705 26 St. W., Bradenton, disciplinary revocation with leave to apply for readmission in five years effective 30 days following a Feb. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Fernandez was hired to serve as the closing agent and title agent for the sale of a home and was found guilty of multiple rules. In additional matters pending at the grievance committee and staff level, Fernandez was accused of missing deadlines, failure to communicate with clients, engaging in a conflict of interest, being disqualified and removed as counsel in a matter due to a conflict, misusing client funds being held in his trust account, and conduct involving dishonesty or misrepresentation. (Case No: SC20-670)
Andrew C. Hill, 11916 Trevally Loop, Apt. 311, Trinity, suspended effective 30 days following a Feb. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Hill was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated June 27, 2019 due to a finding of probable cause for misconduct that occurred during his probation period in violation of Rule 3-5.1(c). (Case No: SC20-1754)
Stephen Hillebrand, 46 N. Washington Blvd., Suite 20, Sarasota, disbarred effective 30 days following a Feb. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Hillebrand failed to diligently represent three clients; failed to reasonably communicate with the clients; and failed to complete the client’s representation to the detriment of the clients. Hillebrand failed to appear at his scheduled sworn statement and failed to participate in the disciplinary proceedings. (Case No: SC20-686)
Andrew David Hodes, 20512 Via Marisa, Boca Raton, suspended for 60 days and ordered to attend The Florida Bar’s Ethics School effective 30 days following a Jan. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Hodes drafted a quit claim deed for his client. In error, Hodes listed the grantee as the client/petitioner, rather than the decedent’s brother as their retainer spelled out. The decedent’s son signed the incorrect deed and had it notarized. After Hodes received the signed and notarized deed, he changed the date on the quit claim deed and changed the name of the grantee from the petitioner to the decedent’s brother. Hodes then recorded the altered deed. Thereafter, civil litigation was initiated regarding the ownership of the property, and the court found that Hodes committed acts of fraud, misrepresentation, forgeries and/or material alterations regarding the subject property and title to same. Hodes’ intent was not to deceive or make a material misrepresentation, but rather, to correct the aforementioned errors that Hodes had made on the deed. (Case No: SC20-1163)
Diane Marie McGuire, 42 Snapper Ave., Key Largo, public reprimand effective immediately following a Feb. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990). McGuire was found in contempt of court for failing to respond to official Bar inquiries (SC20-1472).
William E. McManus Jr., 119 E Watauga Ave., Johnson City, TN. disbarred effective March 22 following a Feb. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) McManus was charged with bribery of a public servant, a felony offense in Tennessee. McManus consented to disbarment in Tennessee and Florida. This is a reciprocal discipline action based on the Tennessee Supreme Court’s order dated June 26, 2020. (Case No: SC20-1694)
Enrique Miranda, 7820 SW 117th St., Miami, suspended by petition for emergency suspension effective immediately following a Feb. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Enrique Miranda, 7820 SW 117th St., Miami, emergency suspended, effective immediately following a February 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Miranda presents a clear and present harm to the public for the inappropriate disbursement of escrow funds, misrepresentations about the funds held in trust, and violation of the fiduciary duty owed to both the remitter and the beneficiary of the funds deposited. A petition for emergency suspension is granted by the Florida Supreme Court when The Florida Bar presents clear and convincing evidence that a lawyer appears to be causing great public harm (see Rule 3-5.2(a)) and also constitutes a formal complaint so that the matter is fully investigated and final disciplinary action is ordered. (Case No: SC21-183)
Charles Paul-Thomas Phoenix, P.O. Box 742, Sanibel, suspended for two years effective 30 days following a Jan. 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Phoenix was counsel for a vacation rental management company that was operating as a Ponzi scheme. Phoenix signed a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreeing to cooperate in the prosecution of the company’s executives in exchange for not being prosecuted himself. In the agreement, Phoenix admitted to certain conduct constituting rule violations, including making false statements and failing to timely withdraw from his representation of the company despite his knowledge of its illegal activity. (Case No: SC17-585)
Michael Anthony Saracco, 520 Brevard Ave., Cocoa, suspended for 45 days effective April 12 following a Feb. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2012) Saracco failed to provide diligent and competent representation to a client in connection with filing an action against the client’s mortgage lender and failed to keep the client reasonably informed regarding the legal matter. Saracco failed to respond to a motion to dismiss in the matter as well as an order to show cause, resulting in dismissal of the case without prejudice. At his client’s request, Saracco filed a new lawsuit in federal court to preserve the claim. The court ultimately permitted Saracco to withdraw from the case. Saracco provided a full refund to the client. (Case No: SC21-141)
S.A. Siddiqui, 405 Gianna Way, St. Augustine, suspended for three years effective 30 days following a Feb. 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) In one matter, Siddiqui failed to competently and timely pursue the client’s family law matter and misrepresented to the client the status of the case. In a second matter, Siddiqui failed to competently represent the client in his criminal case and failed to appear for jury selection. In a third matter, Siddiqui failed to appear for court and misrepresented to the court that he did not receive notice of the court hearing. (Case No: SC19-653)
Erik Donald Ulano, 4309 Bluewater Ave., Spring Hill, disbarred effective immediately following a Feb. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Beginning on Oct. 1, 2018, Ulano became ineligible to practice law in Florida for not paying his Bar membership fees for fiscal year 2018-2019. While he was ineligible to practice, Ulano repeatedly appeared in court in Hernando County on behalf of his client. Ulano also failed to respond to the Bar’s inquiries and failed to participate in the disciplinary proceeding. (Case No: SC20-749)
Francisca Johanna Wider, 10843 White Aspen Ln., Boca Raton, public reprimand and attendance at The Florida Bar’s Ethics School effective immediately following a Feb 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) In 2014, Wider prepared a last will and testament naming herself as the personal representative and providing for a sole beneficiary of the estate. On June 29, 2016, the testator died. Wider telephoned the sole beneficiary and informed her that she was “mentioned” in the will but did not tell the woman that she was the sole beneficiary of the estate. Thereafter, Wider took possession of the entire contents of the deceased’s condominium and arranged for the removal of all the contents without the consent of the beneficiary. Misrepresentations were made by Wider regarding the beneficiary’s status as sole beneficiary. (Case No: SC19-317)
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Founded in 1949, The Florida Bar serves the legal profession for the protection and benefit of both the public and all Florida lawyers. As one of the nation’s largest mandatory bars, The Florida Bar fosters and upholds a high standard of integrity and competence within Florida’s legal profession as an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court.