SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 23 ATTORNEYS
Summaries of orders issued from March 5 to April 23, 2020
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 23 attorneys, disbarring three, revoking the license of two, suspending 15 and reprimanding three. One attorney was given probation and one was ordered to pay restitution. 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.
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.
Michael Aizin, 26 Court St., Suite 412, Brooklyn, N.Y., suspended for 90 days effective 30 days following an April 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Aizin negligently transferred $75,000 from his trust account to his operating account but meant to transfer only $7,500. The transfer led to a check for his trust account being dishonored. A subsequent audit revealed that he misapplied a prior deposit to his trust account that should have been applied to his operating account. Aizin was found in violation of maintaining trust account standards. This is a reciprocal discipline action, based on an order from the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department (Case No: SC19-1943)
Edmar Mauricio Amaya, 175 S.W. 7 St., Suite 2410, Miami, suspended for 90 days effective 30 days following an April 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Amaya engaged in a sexual relationship with a client and failed to communicate the substitution of counsel after recognizing he could no longer represent his client in the dissolution proceeding. (Case No: SC20-448)
Brian Becher, 1875 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Suite 100, Boca Raton, suspended for two years effective 30 days following an April 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Becher engaged in conduct contrary to honesty and justice and defended proceedings that were frivolous and without merit. He knowingly made false statements of fact to a tribunal and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in connection with filing numerous motions to quash service of process on behalf of the registered agent of multiple companies who was knowingly evading service of process in foreclosure cases. (Case No: SC18-99)
George William Castrataro, 707 N.E. 3 Ave., Suite 300, Fort Lauderdale, suspended effective 30 days following an April 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Castrataro failed to respond to The Florida Bar multiple times prompting the Bar to file its Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause. On Feb. 20, the Florida Supreme Court ordered Castrataro to show cause by March 6. He failed to file a response and was subsequently held in contempt and suspended until he has fully responded in writing to an official Bar inquiry, and until further order of the court. (Case No: SC20-249)
Gary Scott Clendenin, 7419 U.S. Highway 19, New Port Richey, disciplinary revocation effective 30 days from an April 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Clendenin entered into two separate convertible debenture bond investments on behalf of two trusts being administered by the firm at which he was partner, without notice or consent. The invested funds were not returned to the trust. Additionally, Clendenin loaned $200,000 to his parents from one trust and forged the trustee’s signature on a document to disburse the funds and misrepresented that the funds would be paid to the beneficiaries. Clendenin did not have the client or trustee’s consent for the transaction. (Case No: SC20-222)
Aaron Matthew Cohen, 110 Via D Este, Apt. 303, Delray Beach, public reprimand effective immediately following a March 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Cohen was held in contempt and publicly reprimanded for failing to timely respond to inquiries of The Florida Bar. (Case No: SC19-2053)
Charles A. Esposito, 94 Fulton Place, Palm Coast, public reprimand effective immediately following an April 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Esposito represented a client in a criminal case and failed to confirm the nonrefundable fee in writing. Esposito filed a motion to withdraw as counsel and clarified some misrepresentations made by the client to the court revealing information relating to the representation. (Case No: SC20-415)
David Preston Gilbert, 13575 58 St. North, Suite 200, Clearwater, suspended effective 30 days following an April 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Gilbert filed a response to the Court’s Order to Show Cause of why he should not be held in contempt of court for failing to respond to an official Bar inquiry one day late. As a result, the court struck Gilbert’s response and required him to file a response that complied with the rules of appellate procedure by March 5, but he did not do that. The Bar noted in its reply to Gilbert’s response that he admitted receipt of The Bar’s written investigative inquiries. (Case No: SC20-191)
Joshua Todd Hill Hauserman, 1800 Forest Hill Blvd., Suite A2, West Palm Beach, suspended for six months, retroactive to Oct. 21, 2019, by an April 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Hauserman failed to adequately supervise a nonlawyer employee, failed to effectively communicate with a client about the status of a matter and failed to notify the court that he would not be present at a court hearing. (Case No: SC20-45)
David Andrew Jaynes, 8311 Waterway Drive, West Palm Beach, disbarred, effective immediately following a March 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1982) Jaynes was held in contempt of the court’s order dated April 18, 2019, for failing to notify clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension. (Case No: SC20-254)
Lauren Elise Kingry, 1919 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville, suspended for 75 days effective 30 days following a March 12 court order, and ordered to pay restitution to three clients and attend ethics school. (Admitted to practice: 2006) After three complaints were filed regarding failed adoptions, Kingry discovered that her employee had been stealing from her. Kingry fired the employee and reported the theft to the State Attorney’s Office. Review of the complaints revealed that the employee had been improperly dealing with respondent’s clients and improperly handling their funds. Kingry failed to properly supervise her employee and her office and thus failed to be apprised of the emerging situations. (Case No: SC19-1930)
Kip William Kootz, 6110 N. Ocean Blvd., Apt. 4, Ocean Ridge, disbarred effective 30 days following an April 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) On Feb. 9, 2017, Kootz was arrested for DUI-Enhanced because he was operating a motor vehicle with a breath-alcohol content greater than .15 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. The prosecutor subsequently discovered that Kootz had been convicted of four prior DUI offenses in Minnesota. On Oct. 23, 2019, a jury found Kootz guilty of DUI-First Offense. Kootz failed to advise The Florida Bar of his prior four DUIs in Minnesota. (Case No: SC19-758)
Edward Juan Lynum, P.O. Box 1078, Wildwood, suspended for 180 days, effective immediately following a March 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Lynum made statements that were disparaging and impugned the integrity of the judiciary with reckless disregard to the truth of those statements. He also engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice while acting as attorney ad litem in a dependency case. Lynum also failed to fully participate in the disciplinary proceeding. (Case No: SC19-745)
Raymer Francis Maguire, 605 E. Robinson St., Suite 140, Orlando, suspended for 60 days effective 30 days following a March 25 court order and ordered to attend The Florida Bar ethics school. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Maguire engaged in a conflict of interest when he acquired an ownership interest in his client’s property when the property was also the subject of the litigation. (Case No: SC20-205)
Theodore G. Mastos, 999 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Suite 500, Coral Gables, suspended for 10 days effective 30 days following an April 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Mastos engaged in a joint representation of two defendants in a single criminal case and failed to inform and obtain a waiver of the potential conflict of interest. (Case No: SC20-411)
William Jay Motyczka, 5936 N.E. 63 St., Silver Springs, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days from a March 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Motyczka prepared a revocable trust to take title to property he and his former girlfriend purchased. The trust named Motyczka as the trustee and the sole beneficiary. Motyczka provided the Bar with a document titled Amendment to Trust, which purportedly named the former girlfriend as a beneficiary entitled to approximately 20 percent interest to the trust property. Motyczka stated that he created both the Trust and the Amendment at or around the same time and in the same location using the same computer. Forensic examinations determined that not to be the case and the Amendment was created at or around the time of the Bar’s investigation. (Case No: SC19-1418)
Ronald Louis Nelson, 1247 1 Ave. North, St. Petersburg, suspended, effective 30 days following a March 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Nelson failed to respond to The Florida Bar’s request for trust account records after The Bar received a notice of insufficient funds for his trust account. Nelson was held in contempt and suspended until further court order for his failure to respond to an official Bar inquiry. (Case No: SC19-2045)
Omer Ors, 8130 Baymeadows Circle W., Suite 303, Jacksonville, suspended indefinitely effective 30 days following a March 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2014) Ors failed to respond to The Florida Bar’s attempts to reach him to obtain a response to pending matters. The Bar filed its petition for order to show cause and contempt. Ors was found in non-compliance for failing to respond to official Bar inquiries (Case No: SC20-122)
David Philips, 100 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 1607, Miami, disbarred effective immediately following a March 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Philips failed to answer an order to show cause and the court found him in contempt for continuing to practice law and receiving funds in his trust account despite an order revoking his license on Feb. 25, 2019. (Case No: SC20-77)
Stafford Nicholas Shealy, 1438 Lantana Road, Suite 219, Lantana, public reprimand, and two years’ probation effective 15 days following an April 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Shealy pleaded guilty to a DUI charge on Nov. 26, 2018, receiving 24 months of DUI probation. Shealy then reported his DUI conviction to The Florida Bar. (Case No: SC20-498)
Craig Barry Sherman, 2000 Glades Road, Suite 204, Boca Raton, permanent revocation effective immediately following a March 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1975) Sherman agreed to a permanent revocation of his license to practice law after allegations arose that he misappropriated nearly $4.18 million from a client over three years. The money was supposed to be used for loans to certain real estate developers. (Case No:SC19-2012)
Robert Louis Thirston II, 19211 Panama City Beach Parkway, Suite 220, Panama City Beach, suspended for two years retroactive to Oct. 6, 2019 and ordered to attend ethics school by a March 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) In three consolidated cases, Thirston failed to maintain trust accounting records and procedures, commingled funds, failed to respond to a subpoena to provide trust accounting records to The Florida Bar, and failed to respond to The Bar. (Case Nos: SC19-923, SC19-1562, SC19-2128)
Mark Edward Tietig, 6065 S. Tropical Trail, Merritt Island, suspended effective immediately following an April 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Tietig was found in contempt for noncompliance after failing to respond in writing to The Florida Bar’s investigative inquiry related to a complaint filed by a client. (Case No: SC20-247)
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.