SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 15 ATTORNEYS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2018
CONTACT: Public Information; [email protected],
The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE: (850) 561-5666
Summaries of orders issued Dec. 14, 2017 – Jan. 4, 2018
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 15 attorneys – disbarring two, revoking the licenses of four, suspending eight, and publicly reprimanding one. One attorney was also placed on probation.
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 106,000-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 five percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.
Francisco Jose Aguero, P.O. Box 141565, Coral Gables, suspended until further order, effective immediately, following a Dec. 21, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Aguero appeared to be causing great public harm by his misappropriation of client trust funds. A Bar audit found that Aguero should have had approximately $135,000 in trust, when, in fact, he had a balance of $36.97. (Case No. SC17-2181)
Laura Healan Coggin, 76347 Veterans Way, Yulee, suspended for 18 months, effective 30 days from a Dec. 28, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Further, Coggin is directed to attend ethics school. A client authorized Coggin to charge $1,500 to her credit card to represent her in a divorce proceeding. Coggin subsequently made eight additional charges to the card without the client’s permission, totaling $12,000. In another matter, Coggin knowingly overcharged a client by $1,000. (Case No. SC17-1548)
Leigh A. Kyer, P.O. Box 785065, Winter Garden. The court granted Kyer’s petition for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective 30 days from a Dec. 28, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Kyer involved an allegation that she improperly used client funds for purposes other than for what they were intended. (Case No. SC17-1867)
Elaine S. Laura, P.O. Box 934821, Margate. The court granted Laura’s petition for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective 30 days from a Jan. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Laura involved allegations of misuse of client trust funds, and neglecting a client’s case after being retained. (Case No. SC17-1883)
Mayowa F. Odusanya, 100 S. Ashley Drive, Suite 600, Tampa, suspended for six months, effective 30 days from a Dec. 14, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Further, Odusanya is directed to attend ethics school and a trust accounting workshop, and must submit to a mental health evaluation prior to reinstatement. In numerous instances, Odusanya failed to competently represent clients after being retained. He often failed to perform services, failed to communicate, and failed to return unearned fees. In a motion, Odusanya made derogatory and disparaging remarks about a client, Bar counsel, and other current and former Bar employees. (Case No. SC17-413)
Joseph Pallante III, P.O. Box 412114, Melbourne, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Dec. 14, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Pallante was adjudicated guilty in court on 42 counts of sexual battery of a child, and sentenced to life in prison. (Case No. SC17-2191)
Timothy Francis Pickles, 653 Brevard Ave., Cocoa, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Dec. 28, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Pickles arrived late to court one day, while representing a homeowners association. He returned from lunch late the same day, in an impaired state. The trial court granted a motion for mistrial filed on behalf of the HOA due to Pickles’ failure to provide competent representation. In a sworn statement, Pickles admitted to consuming alcohol prior to arriving in court and during the lunch recess. Further, he failed to pay federal personal income taxes from 2008 through 2012, and professional income taxes between 2005 and 2014. (Case No. SC-1607)
Vincent Joseph Pravato, 2101 W. Commercial Blvd., Suite 1500, Fort Lauderdale, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Dec. 19, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Pravato pleaded guilty in court to communications fraud, patient brokering, and unlawful use of a two-way communications device, all felonies. Adjudication was subsequently withheld on the three charges, and Pravato was sentenced to five years of reporting probation, with special conditions that he complete 250 hours of community service, and pay more than $16,000 in restitution. (Case No. SC17-2221)
Dana Rachel Price, 300 W. Adams St., Suite 600, Jacksonville, to be publicly reprimanded following a Dec. 14, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Further, Price shall contact Florida Lawyers Assistance for an evaluation within 30 days of the court’s order. Price pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license. (Case No. SC17-1502)
William Jason Scheil, 1107 Lintz Lane, Lady Lake, suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a Dec. 28, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) In sworn statements, Scheil admitted to using illegal drugs, including heroin. He also admitted to being arrested for driving with a suspended license. Scheil failed to inform The Florida Bar about the disposition of two criminal cases in which he was required to pay fines. He pleaded guilty in one, and adjudication was withheld. In the second case, he pleaded no contest. Scheil also failed to timely respond to the Bar’s inquiries regarding the matters. (Case No. SC17-1114)
Reginald Bernard Sessions, 201 S. 2nd St., Suite 211, Fort Pierce, suspended for 20 days, effective February 4, 2018 pursuant to the January 9, 2018 court order. Further, upon reinstatement, Sessions is placed on probation for nine months. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Sessions was a court-appointed attorney. He failed to provide diligent representation to a client, failed to adequately communicate in a termination of parental rights case, and delayed the subsequent appeal in his failure to ensure his client had appellate representation. (Case No. SC17-1008)
Joshua Johnson Stewart, 6941 Manor Beach Road, New Port Richey, disbarred effective immediately, following a Dec. 21, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Stewart was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of previous court orders. He held himself out as an attorney and continued to practice law after being suspended. On June 20, 2011, Stewart was suspended for 91 days and placed on probation for three years upon reinstatement. On June 25, 2015, he was suspended for three years. (Case No. SC16-244)
Stephen Proctor Tourtelot, 1651 Cape Hope Ave. N.E., Saint Petersburg, disbarred effective immediately, following a Dec. 21, 2017, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) In several instances, Tourtelot failed to diligently perform services for which he had been retained and failed to communicate with clients or produce documentation or evidence of work product to support the fees charged. Further, He also failed to respond to the grievance committee and The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC17-1257)
Timothy Allen Traster, 4225 New Haven Court, Port Orange. The court granted Traster’s petition for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective 30 days from a Jan. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Traster involved allegations that he misappropriated $5,000 in client funds for his own benefit, and he failed to properly maintain his trust account. (Case No. SC17-1912)
Jordan Lloyd Wallach, 1800 2nd St., Suite 919, Sarasota. The court granted Wallach’s petition for a disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission, effective immediately, following a Jan. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Wallach involved allegations that he misappropriated more than $215,000 of client funds. (Case No. SC17-1923)
EDITORS: Please note The Florida Bar is not an association and "Association" is not part of our name. Proper reference is "The Florida Bar." Local bar organizations are properly termed "associations."