SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 17 ATTORNEYS
Summaries of orders issued from July 30, 2021, to August 26, 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 six, suspending seven, and reprimanding four. One attorney was 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 more than 109,000 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.
Rasheed Karim Allen-Dawson, P.O. Box 135819, Clermont, suspended for 91 days and conditional probation for one year effective 30 days following an Aug. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Allen-Dawson failed to provide a client with competent representation in a family law matter and pursued frivolous litigation. Following the filing of the Bar complaint, Allen-Dawson made an impermissible agreement with the complaining client for a full refund conditioned on the client withdrawing the Bar complaint. In a second matter, Allen-Dawson engaged in a course of conduct where he failed to follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rules, failed to diligently and competently handle multiple client matters, and certified to the Court that good-faith conferences had occurred when, in fact, they had not, resulting in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, imposing disciplinary sanctions against him which resulted in 12 months of conditional probation by the Federal Court. (Case Nos.: SC21-472 and SC21-504)
Charles McCormack Caldwell II, 801 W. Romana St., Suite C, Pensacola, public reprimand by publication and attendance at Ethics School effective immediately following an Aug. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Caldwell worked for a Canadian trademark company representing clients in pending trademark applications and issued trademark registrations before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). The company’s practice was to enter Caldwell’s electronic signature on trademark documents before filing with the USPTO. When Caldwell was contacted by the USPTO and advised that he was violating its regulations, he cooperated fully and severed all ties with the trademark company. The USPTO imposed a public reprimand and 12 months probation. (Case No: SC21-230)
Joe Luis Castrofort, 1906 E. Robinson St., Orlando, suspended for 60 days with attendance at Ethics School effective 30 days following an Aug. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Castrofort represented a defendant in a criminal case where the defendant told Castrofort that someone had messaged him, claiming to be the alleged victim, and had requested $15,000.00 in exchange for her agreement not to testify against him in the case. At the time, there was a court order that defendant have no contact with the alleged victim. Castrofort involved private investigators who directed the client to message the alleged victim and have her appear at a designated location to collect the money. Though there was no actual money involved, the client watched from a distance as the alleged victim entered the client’s unoccupied vehicle and searched for the money. The client and alleged victim communicated using a messaging application and the private investigators recorded the encounter. At the time, Castrofort did not fully appreciate that his client’s actions could be viewed as a violation of the no-contact order and expressed remorse for the misconduct. (Case No: SC21-1100)
Kevin Keenan Chase, 709 Laurel Way, Casselberry, public reprimand by publication effective immediately following an Aug. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Chase was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated Nov. 12, 2020 for failing to timely comply with Rule 3-5.1(h) requirements of notifying clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension. (Case No: SC21-799)
Andrean Rose Eaton, 2020 N.E. 163rd St., Suite 300, North Miami Beach, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following an Aug. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Eaton was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated March 5, 2020 for failing to comply with Rule 3-5.1(h) requirements of notifying clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension and for failing to comply with the conditions of her probation. (Case No: SC21-772)
William Cater Elliott, P.O. Box 43343, Vestavia, Alabama, disbarred effective Nunc pro tunc to Jan. 16, 2020 the date of his felony suspension following a June 17, 2021 court order. (Admitted to Practice: 1989) On July 18, 2019, Elliott was convicted of Organized Fraud over $50,000.00, adjudicated guilty, and sentenced to a two-year prison term followed by eight years’ probation. Elliott deposited a counterfeit U.S. Treasury check into his law firm business account for $287,000.50, and withdrew a substantial amount, leaving the bank with a financial loss of $98,813.33. Elliott was felony suspended on Jan. 16, 2020. After an appeal to the First DCA that was denied, the appellate court issued its mandate in March 2021. (Case No: SC19-2094)
Michael James Foley, 644 Orange Belt Loop, Winter Garden, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following an Aug. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Foley, while employed by Liberty Law Team, failed to exercise reasonable supervision over the paralegal assigned to work on a client’s criminal appeal, allowing the paralegal to engage in impermissible activities such as giving legal advice, and making misrepresentations to the client and the client’s family. Foley’s failure to supervise further enabled his paralegal to perpetrate a fraud on the client and the client’s family and collect fees and costs that were misappropriated by unknown persons at Liberty Law Team. (Case No: SC21-311)
Dana Marie Fragakis, 2150 Goodlette Rd. N., FL 6, Naples, suspended for 90 days and attendance at The Florida Bar Professionalism Workshop effective 30 days following an Aug. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Fragakis became a candidate for a vacant county court seat in Palm Beach County in June 2016. During a run-off election, Fragakis hired a campaign manager that promoted her candidacy by making disparaging statements about her opponent in emails, statements to the media, and a webpage. Fragakis initially defended her campaign’s actions but ultimately admitted that her conduct was a violation of the Judicial Canons and apologized to her opponent. Fragakis was thereafter removed from judicial office. (Case No: SC12-1122)
Ronald Andersen Hurst, Jr., P.O. Box 540262, Greenacres, public reprimand by publication effective Aug. 5 by court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Hurst was court-appointed to file an Amended Motion to Withdraw Plea Agreement on behalf of a criminal defendant. Hurst made minimal efforts to communicate with the client to determine the basis for the motion. Since Hurst did not receive a response from the client, he did not file the subject motion. (Case Nos: SC21-1098 and SC21-1100)
Eric Otto Husby, 306 S Blvd., Tampa, suspended for 90 days and directed to attend Ethics School effective 30 days following a July 29 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Husby neglected his client’s matter and failed to communicate adequately in one matter, and failed to provide competent representation in the second. Husby failed to timely respond to the Bar in the first matter. (Case No: SC20-1837)
Andrew John Jones, 5200 South U.S. Highway 17/92, Casselberry, disbarred immediately following an Aug. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) On June 3, 2021, Jones pled guilty to Child Abuse and Tampering with Physical Evidence, both third-degree felonies. (Case No: SC21-894)
Frederick Joseph Keitel III, P.O. Box 3243, Palm Beach, permanently disbarred effective immediately following an Aug. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Keitel represented his own corporations in numerous cases during which he made unfounded, unethical, and disparaging attacks against many different judges. He further engaged in incivility and unprofessionalism in a deposition, attempted to hinder and delay discovery, engaged in a conflict of interest, and violated orders entered by the bankruptcy court. Keitel continued to engage in such disparaging conduct during the disciplinary proceedings. (Case No: SC18-546)
Douglas Alan Lopp, 19420 Sandy Springs Cir., Lutz, disbarred effective immediately following an Aug. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Lopp was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated Sept. 20, 2020, for his repeated failure to respond to the Court’s previous order and for his failure to notify clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension. (Case No: SC20-1026 and SC21-852)
Roger S. Rathbun, 9380 N.W. 13th St., Plantation, disbarred effective immediately following an Aug. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Rathbun continued to engage in the active practice of law after being suspended from the practice of law by order dated Jan. 9, 2020. (Case No: SC20-623)
John Chandler Ross, 1025 Indian River Ave., Titusville, disbarred effective immediately following an Aug. 5 court order because he is currently suspended. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Ross was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated November 24, 2020 for failing to comply with Rule 3-5.1(h) requirements of notifying clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension. (Case No: SC21-807)
Patrick James Thompson, 201 Hilda St., Suite 23, Kissimmee, public reprimand by publication and completion of Ethics School effective immediately following an Aug. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Thompson negotiated with timeshare resorts on behalf of clients to assist the clients with an exit from their timeshare contracts and/or their timeshare maintenance fees. Thompson improperly shared legal fees with a nonlawyer, who was a corporate officer of his law firm, Timeshare Lawyers, Inc. Thompson was not admitted to practice law in any jurisdiction other than Florida but the resorts and the clients he represented sometimes were located outside of Florida. In addition, Thompson did not sufficiently communicate with two clients about their cases, and he was not diligent in handling their cases. (Case No: SC21-588)
Peter James Yanowitch, 232 Andalusia Ave., Suite 202, Coral Gables, suspended for 90 days and ordered to pay restitution in the total amount of $100,000.00 effective 30 days following an Aug. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1982) Yanowitch failed to maintain cost money in his trust account, instead, he applied it to fees deemed to be excessive, and without providing monthly invoices to the client. (Case No: SC21-1090)
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