SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 10 ATTORNEYS
Summaries of orders issued from April 16 to May 21, 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 10 attorneys, disbarring two, revoking the license of one, suspending six and reprimanding one. 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.
Rita Horwitz Altman, 215 S. Olive Ave., Suite 200, West Palm Beach, suspended for three years effective 30 days following a May 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Altman was suspended for three years for failing to respond to The Florida Bar and making misrepresentations to the Bar and the Supreme Court. Altman had previously been disciplined four times for misconduct. (Case No. SC18-724)
Rafael Angel Castro, 5904 SW 64 Ave., Miami, disbarred effective 30 days from a May 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Castro neglected two client matters for several years, sought multiple extensions of time yet repeatedly filed after the deadline and failed to refund fees to clients. (Case No: SC18-1037)
Troy Donahue Harris, 3550 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 403, Miami, suspended for 60 days, effective 30 days following a May 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Harris neglected a client’s immigration case causing a petition to be deemed abandoned and he also filed petitions that he knew his client was ineligible for relief from. His handling of the case resulted in his client being ordered removed in absentia from the United States. (Case No: SC20-77)
Jon B. Lindeman, Jr., 1390 S. Dixie Highway, Suite 2201, Coral Gables, disciplinary revocation with leave to apply for readmission after five years effective 30 days from a May 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Lindeman was the subject of numerous Bar complaints regarding lack of diligence, lack of communication, excessive fees and failure to supervise nonlawyer personnel in foreclosure defense, mortgage modification and immigration matters. Further, during the Bar’s investigation, Lindeman failed to respond to numerous official Bar inquiries and subpoenas. (Case No: SC20-311)
Janet Peralta Lucente, 8570 Stirling Road., Suite. 102-102, Hollywood, suspended for 90 days effective immediately following a May 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Lucente was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated Nov. 15, 2019, for failing to notify clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of her suspension. (Case No: SC20-255)
Michael Keith Roberts II, 1680 Emerson St., Jacksonville, suspended for 45 days effective 30 days following a May 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) In 2012, Roberts was arrested for an alleged criminal violation which the state declined to prosecute and later expunged. Two years later, following a domestic battery call at his address, he attended an anger management course. Later in 2014, he was charged with domestic violence/battery against his then wife and pleaded guilty to simple battery. Roberts was required to attend anger management classes and in the Bar’s case was diverted to Florida Lawyers’ Assistance, Inc., for evaluation which found he did not need treatment or follow-up. After Roberts’ ex-wife filed a complaint in 2017 relating the above history, Roberts agreed to another evaluation which again found no need for treatment. (Case No: SC20-142)
Kunal Manhar Sejpal, 14039 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, suspended for 90 days effective 30 days following a May 14 court order. (Admitted to Practice: 2007) Sejpal failed to competently and diligently represent a client in a condominium dispute and failed to reasonably communicate and consult with the client about how he was going to pursue the client’s objectives. Sejpal was dishonest with the client and made numerous misrepresentations regarding the status of the case. (Case No:SC18-571)
William DeForest Thompson Jr., 2030 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, public reprimand effective immediately following a May 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) After a July 15, 2019, order suspending Thompson, he failed to remove all indicia of attorney status from his website and social media platforms, and failed to notify individuals in three cases of his suspension. (Case No: SC19-1820)
Jose Angel Toledo, last known address: 4303 W. Roland St., Tampa, disbarred effective immediately following a May 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Toledo abandoned his practice without notice to his clients and without protecting their interests. He ceased all communication with his clients and failed to distribute settlement funds owed to them or third parties. Toledo emptied his client trust account(s), absconded with the funds and his whereabouts are unknown. (Case No: SC19-1786)
Adrian Shiand Webster-Cooley, 8451 Gate Parkway West, Apt. 723, Jacksonville, suspended indefinitely effective 30 days from an April 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2017) Webster-Cooley was held in contempt for failing to respond to official Bar inquiries. (Case No: SC19-1402)
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.