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SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 21 ATTORNEYS


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 29, 2016
CONTACT:
Public Information Department,
The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE:
(850)561-5666


Summaries of orders issued Oct. 13 – Nov. 28, 2016

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 21 attorneys – disbarring four, revoking the licenses of three, suspending seven, and publicly reprimanding seven.

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 103,000-plus 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. Additional 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 rejects many who apply. It includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam. Historically, less than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.


Frank Alfred Baker, FPC Montgomery Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala., disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice:1976) Baker was found guilty on eight felony counts involving fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. He was sentenced to four years in federal prison and is required to pay restitution of approximately $4.5 million. (Case No. SC14-1063)

Dennis Roland Bedard, 1717 N. Bayshore Drive, Suite 215, Miami, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Nov. 16 court order (Admitted to practice: 1988) Bedard was found in contempt for his willful failure to comply with the Bar’s subpoenas. (Case No. SC16-1800)

Jeffrey Joseph Budzik, 90 Alton Road, Apt. 503, Miami, to receive a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective retroactive to Feb. 4, following a Nov. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Budzik involves a guilty plea in federal court for bank fraud, a felony. (Case No. SC16-1431)

James Lee Clark, 701 S. Howard Ave., Suite 201, Tampa, suspended until further order effective 30 days from a Nov. 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Clark appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating at least $946,764 of client funds. (Case No. SC16-1994)

Bruce Edward Committe, 2653 N. Moreland Blvd. Apt. 4, Cleveland, Ohio, disbarred, effective immediately, following a Nov. 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1989) Committe filed a frivolous and non-meritorious lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, and pursued frivolous litigation in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida. (Case No. SC15-432)

James Edward Flynn, Jr., 901 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter, following an Oct. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Further, Flynn shall complete a trust accounting workshop. Flynn shared fees with a non-lawyer employee and charged excessive fees. A Bar audit found deficiencies in Flynn’s trust account caused by his lack of experience. (Case No. SC16-1802)

Daniel Gary Gass, 10001 N.W. 50th St., Suite 204, Fort Lauderdale, disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) In addition to membership in The Florida Bar, Gass also practiced before the Internal Revenue Service and as a Certified Public Accountant licensed by the state of Florida. Gass was disbarred from practice before the IRS for engaging in disreputable conduct. (Case No. SC15-907)

John Richard Geiger, P.O. Box 860217, St. Augustine, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Nov. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Geiger was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a November 2015 suspension order. As a condition of his probation, Geiger was required to retain the services of a Certified Public Accountant to review his trust accounts monthly and submit a quarterly statement regarding compliance. Geiger was further ordered to submit a quarterly monitoring fee. (Case No. SC16-1781)

Alrecia L. Gulley, P.O. Box 1932, New Port Richey, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter, following an Oct. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2012) Gulley worked for a law firm, based in California, that handled foreclosure surplus cases in Florida. In representing a client on a contingency fee basis, Gulley was not diligent in following up on information provided to her. (Case No. SC16-1801)

Christopher R. Harris, 106 Promenade Court, Louisville, Ky., disbarred effective immediately, following an Oct. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) A compliance audit revealed that Harris continually had shortages in his trust account, commingled earned fees with client money, and paid personal expenses from his trust account. The audit further revealed that Harris did not maintain minimum trust accounting records and procedures. In at least two instances, despite promises, Harris failed and refused to refund money to clients. (Case No. SC16-348)

Stephanie J. Hartley, 1361 Nicholson Road, Jacksonville, to receive a public reprimand following a Nov. 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Hartley pleaded guilty in North Carolina to Driving While Impaired. The case was appealed and subsequently dismissed based on an unlawful stop; however, she failed to report the initial conviction within 10 days as required by Rule 3-7.2(e). (Case No. SC16-875)

Thomas Stephen Heidkamp, 4208 N.E. 22nd Place, Cape Coral, suspended effective immediately, following a Nov. 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Heidkamp was found in contempt for failure to respond to an official Bar inquiry regarding a case. (Case No. SC16-1803)

Tonja J. Helton, 10150 Highland Manor Drive, Suite 200, Tampa. The Supreme Court granted Helton’s request for a disciplinary revocation, effective immediately, following an Oct. 27 court order, with leave to seek readmission after five years. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Helton includes allegations of misappropriation of client funds. (Case No. SC16-1546)

Paul Marc Herman, 103 Sabal Palm Lane, Palm Beach Gardens, to receive a public reprimand by publication following a Nov. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1975) A review of the law firm’s banking records revealed that Herman failed to adhere to trust account procedures. Several checks issued from his operating account were returned for insufficient funds and Herman used his trust account for personal reasons. (Case No. SC16-1847)

Alan B. Koslow, 1 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 1800, Fort Lauderdale. The Supreme Court granted Koslow’s request for a disciplinary revocation, effective 30 days from an Oct. 27 court order, with leave to seek readmission after five years. (Admitted to practice: 1982) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Koslow includes allegations stemming from a May 26 arrest by federal authorities. (Case No. SC16-1557)

Dale Eugene Krout, Jr., 5117 Castello Drive, Suite 1, Naples, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Nov. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) Krout was found in contempt for failure to comply with a grievance committee subpoena to produce certain trust account records. (Case No. SC16-1628)

Adam Paul Philpott, 6320 Raleigh St., Apt. 612, Orlando, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Philpott was found in contempt for failure to comply with a November 2014 court order in which he was publicly reprimanded and placed on probation for three years. Philpott signed a rehabilitation contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance and agreed to follow all recommendations during the probation period. He failed to abstain from the consumption of alcohol, as required, and was arrested for DUI. (Case No. SC16-1519)

Scott Thomas Rodgers, 121 S. Orange Ave., Suite 1500, Orlando, to receive a public reprimand following a Nov. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) Rodgers was found in contempt for failing to respond to official Bar inquiries in a timely manner. (Case No. SC16-1434)

Arthur Drew Rubin, P.O. Box 89282, Tampa, to receive a public reprimand following a Nov. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) A grievance committee found that Rubin improperly solicited potential clients. As two pro se parties were leaving a courtroom, Rubin approached them, suggested they needed counsel, and offered his services. (Case No. SC16-1883)

Nadine Rhodes Smith, P.O. Box 4208, Clearwater, suspended for three years effective immediately following a Nov. 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Further, Smith shall comply with a July 28 suspension order, Case No. SC16-49, prior to petitioning for reinstatement. Specifically, Smith was required to notify her clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of her two-year suspension, and provide the Bar within 30 days a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that were furnished a copy of her suspension order. (Case No. SC16-1784)

Scott Alan Weires, 14 S.E. 4th St., Boca Raton, to receive a public reprimand following an Oct. 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) In communicating a fee reduction matter between his law firm and the father of a former client, Weires knowingly engaged in conduct involving misrepresentation. (Case No. SC16-494)


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[Revised: 12-31-2016]