SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 22 ATTORNEYS
Summaries of orders issued from Oct. 24 to Nov 21, 2019
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 22 attorneys, disbarring six, revoking the licenses of nine and suspending seven. Two attorneys were also ordered to pay restitution and one was given probation. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.
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 107,000 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.
Nelson Israel Alfaro, 4000 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Suite 470, Coral Gables, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective 30 days following a Nov. 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) On Aug. 29, an indictment filed in federal court charged Alfaro with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer. Alfaro tendered an instant Petition for Disciplinary Revocation in response to those pending criminal charges. (Case No. SC19-1705)
Sonia Yvette Amador, P.O. Box 961288, Miami, disbarred effective immediately and ordered to pay restitution to two clients following an Oct. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Amador received retainers to handle two bankruptcy cases but failed to diligently pursue the cases or communicate with the clients. She also misrepresented the status of the proceedings and failed to respond to Florida Bar inquiries regarding the clients’ grievances. Amador is ordered to pay restitution to both clients totaling $3,585. (Case No. SC19-621)
James Joseph Boyle, 50 N. Laura St., Suite 2500, Jacksonville, disbarred immediately following an Oct. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Boyle represented a client in a criminal appeal but failed to file the appropriate paperwork so the court issued an order to show cause. He then failed to respond to the court, which referred the case to The Florida Bar. Boyle did not respond to the Bar and failed to participate in the disciplinary proceeding. (Case No. SC19-708)
Keith Adam Halpern, P.O. Box 12075, Tallahassee, disbarred, effective immediately following an Oct. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Halpern received $15,000 from a client to perform a quiet title action but failed to use the funds for that purpose. A Florida Bar audit of his trust account revealed that it did not comply with minimum trust account requirements and that he had misappropriated more than $339,777 by writing checks to himself without any billing records, client ledgers or accounting. (Case No. SC18-184)
Armando Gustavo Hernandez, 780 Tamiami Canal Road, Miami, suspended for six months, effective 30 days from a Nov. 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) While working as an associate at a law firm, Hernandez represented clients outside the firm and misrepresented the truth when he was confronted by two partners. He also deleted, exported and altered files related to the outside cases that were stored on the firm’s system. (Case No: SC19-1263)
Earl Mayberry Johnson, Jr., P.O. Box 40091, Jacksonville, disbarred, effective immediately following a Nov. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Johnson was suspended by the court beginning Aug. 12, but he failed to notify his clients of his suspension and failed to file a complete and accurate affidavit as required. He also continued to practice law after being suspended. (Case No: SC19-1695)
Leroy G. Lee, 1131 N.W. 57 St., Miami, suspended until further order of the court effective 30 days from a Nov. 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) The Florida Supreme Court struck Lee’s untimely response to a June 28 order to show cause why he should have not been held in contempt for failing to fully respond to Florida Bar inquiries and held him in contempt. Lee will remain suspended until he has fully responded in writing to official Bar inquiries. (Case No. SC19-1077)
Janet Peralta Lucente, 8570 Stirling Road, Suite 102-102, Hollywood, suspended until further order of the court effective 30 days from a Nov. 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Lucente failed to respond to an official Florida Bar inquiry and the Bar filed a Petition for Contempt and Request for Order to Show Cause with the Florida Supreme Court. The Court issued an Order to Show Cause and Lucente failed to respond. (Case No: SC19-1703)
Edward Juan Lynum, P.O. Box 1078, Wildwood, suspended until further order of the Court effective 30 days from a Nov. 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Lynum was found to be in contempt of court for failing to comply with an official Florida Bar subpoena requiring his appearance to provide testimony for a sworn statement. He is required to respond to the Bar’s subpoena. (Case No. SC19-1513)
Domenic L. Massari, III, 601 S. Fremont Ave., Tampa, disciplinary revocation without leave to seek readmission following an Oct. 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Massari was disbarred by order dated Oct. 31, 2002. Despite being disbarred, he had direct contact with clients. (Case No. SC19-1347)
John Francis Meyers, 4414 Jett Road N.W., Atlanta, Georgia, disciplinary revocation, effective retroactively to his suspension on Aug. 30, 2018, following an Oct. 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Meyers was the supervising attorney of a large law firm in Atlanta, where he failed to adequately supervise one of his associates who billed a client for work done on behalf of the in-house counsel. The in-house counsel hid the billings from the conglomerate client. Meyers should have known the billings were false and misleading. (Case No. SC19-1338)
Cynthia Leigh Nichols, 221 E. Adams St., Jacksonville, suspended for 90 days with a three-year probation upon reinstatement, following a Dec. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) An investigation of two insufficient funds notices for Nichols’ trust account found only technical violations of the Rules, with no intent to defraud or disadvantage clients. Additionally, Nichols served as ward for a client and that client’s jewelry was stolen by Nichols roommate, who also took care of the ward. Nichols was unaware of the theft and reported it when discovered. (Case No. SC19-1448)
Byron Gregory Petersen, 21346 Saint Andrews Blvd., Suite 200, Boca Raton, disbarred effective immediately following a Nov. 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1976) After being suspended, Petersen held himself out as a lawyer after the effective date of his suspension order. The Florida Supreme Court issued an Order to Show Cause and Petersen failed to respond. (Case No. SC19-1522)
Tracy Nadine Record, 1333 S. 2nd St., Suite 104, Fort Pierce, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek admission after five years effective 30 days following an Oct. 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Record failed to appear on behalf of her criminal clients at several hearings before judges and also failed to communicate with her clients. (Case No. SC19-1442)
Philip Jay Reichenthal, 888 Kingman Road, Homestead, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective immediately following an Oct. 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1968) Reichenthal, an escrow agent for a private buy-sell bitcoin agreement, received more than $2 million in escrow funds and failed to disburse those funds in accordance with the escrow agreement. (Case No. SC19-1525)
Jay B. Rosman, P.O. Box 555, Southport, Maine, disciplinary revocation without leave to seek readmission, effective immediately following an Oct. 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Rosman, a member of the judiciary in Lee County at the time, was arrested on Feb. 9, 2018, for soliciting prostitution and resisting an officer without violence. After entering into a deferred prosecution agreement, he completed all requirements, which resulted in an administrative dismissal. Rosman paid a $1,000 fine; took a restorative justice course; attended an AIDS workshop and counseling; and resigned from the bench. (Case No. SC19-1301)
Scott David Rubinchik, 1860 N. Pine Island Road., Suite 201, Plantation, disbarred effective Dec. 7 following a Nov. 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Rubinchik was suspended by the 4th District Court of Appeal and referred to The Florida Bar for his failure to respond to the appellate court multiple times in two criminal appeals. Rubinchik also failed to take actions for which he was hired and misrepresented the status of the case to his client. Rubinchik was also hired to modify child support for a client and while successful, he failed to draft an order as instructed by the court and took no action for five years. (Case No. SC18-501)
Les Schneiderman, 6431 Pebble Creek Way, Boynton Beach, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Nov. 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Schneiderman failed to respond to both an official Florida Bar inquiry and an Order to Show Cause issued by the Florida Supreme Court. (Case No. SC19-1349)
Steven Gary Shaw, 73 East Lake Street, Apartment 1907, Chicago, Illinois, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days from a Nov. 21 court order. (Admitted to Practice: 2008) Shaw agreed to represent a client at an hourly rate of $100, however, he presented the client with a bill reflecting a rate of $175. When confronted, Shaw backdated the agreement to reflect $175. (Case No: SC19-375)
John Michael Toppa III, 1648 Palm Ridge Road, Melbourne, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective 30 days from a Nov. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) After two separate arrests, Toppa was adjudicated guilty on the felony offenses of purchase of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, bribery and accepting unlawful compensation. He was also adjudicated guilty on the misdemeanor offense of possession of drug paraphernalia. (Case No. SC19-1611)
Ilya Torchinsky, 12550 Biscayne Blvd, Suite 800, North Miami, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective immediately following an Oct. 31 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Torchinsky wrongly converted client trust funds and neglected client matters. He returned all amounts converted. (Case No. SC19-1416)
Erin Rebecca Waskiewicz, 93 Calumet Drive, Saint Johns, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective 30 days from an Oct. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Waskiewicz was arrested for Driving Under the Influence with Property Damage. She pleaded no contest to the reduced charge of Reckless Driving and the trial court withheld adjudication and sentenced her to six months of supervised probation with special conditions. Waskiewicz’s Florida Bar disciplinary matter was diverted to Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc., and she participated with FLA for one year until she violated the terms of the contract. (Case No. SC19-1535)
About The Florida Bar
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. To learn more, visit FloridaBar.org.