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SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 19 ATTORNEYS


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2018
CONTACT:
Public Information Department,
The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE:
850-561-5666; [email protected]


Summaries of orders issued Jan. 4 – Feb. 23, 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 19 attorneys – disbarring three, revoking the licenses of four, suspending 10, and publicly reprimanding two. Two attorneys were also ordered to pay restitution to clients.

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 106,051 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.

Gerald W. Adams, 333 N. New River Drive E., Suite 2200, Fort Lauderdale, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Adams failed to diligently represent two clients. He required one client to sign two separate fee agreements; he had memory lapses at trials; made misrepresentations to The Florida Bar, hecommingled personal funds with trust funds, and hefailed to appear for a hearing. (Case No. SC16-2223)

Wallace Biestrum Anderson, Jr., 4884 W. Mustang Blvd., Beverly Hills, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Feb. 22 court order. (Admitted to practice:1979) Further Anderson shall pay restitution of $540 to two clients. Anderson created a conflict of interest when he asked two sisters whom he represented in a probate case, for an advance payment toward his attorney fees so he could pay his bills. He also charged clearly excessive fees. An audit of his trust account records found that he was not in substantial compliance with Bar rules, and he failed to maintain minimum required trust accounting records. (Case No. SC17-1578)

Orlando Delgado, 8124 SW 102nd St., Miami, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Feb. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Delgado was found in contempt for failure to respond to official Bar inquiries dated Oct. 18, 2017, and Nov. 9, 2017. (Case No. SC18-151)

Alfredo G. Duran, 2340 S. Dixie Highway, Miami. The court granted Duran’s petition for a disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission, effective immediately, following a Feb. 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1967) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Duran included misappropriation of client trust funds, commingling and failure to respond to written Bar inquiries. (Case No. SC18-91)

Brett A. Elam, 105 S. Narcissus Ave., Suite 802, West Palm Beach, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Feb. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Elam appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating more than $34,000 in client trust funds. He also violated multiple court orders and made misrepresentations to a creditor and a bankruptcy court. (Case No. SC18-181)

Rene Julian Garcia, Jr., 5975 Sunset Drive, Suite 604, South Miami, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Feb. 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Garcia appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client trust funds. (Case No. SC18-224)

Ralph Alexander Gonzalez, 2 Woodbrook Road, Voorhees, N.J., suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a Jan. 25 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Gonzalez is also a member of the New Jersey Bar Association. This is a reciprocal action based on an order from the Supreme Court of New Jersey. A grand jury indicated Gonzalez on one count of third-degree possession of a weapon (a golf club) for an unlawful purpose, and one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief. The indictment stemmed from a “road rage” incident. (Case No. SC17-1945)

Christopher Phillip Hancock, P.O. Box 321, Orlando, suspended until further order, following a Feb. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Hancock appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client funds for his own benefit, abandoning his law practice and failing to appear at various court hearings. (Case No. SC18-147)

Melissa A. Heaton, 12222 S.W. 51st Place, Cooper City, to be publicly reprimanded following a Feb. 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Heaton was found in contempt for noncompliance. She failed to comply in a timely manner with the terms of a July 5, 2017, suspension order. Specifically, Heaton was required to notify her clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of her 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. SC17-1809)

Alyscha Lauren Johnson, 8433 Southside Blvd., Apt. 2115, Jacksonville, to be publicly reprimanded following a Jan. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Further, Johnson shall pay restitution totaling $3,500 to two clients. A judge reported that Johnson had missed several appearances in his court and could not be located. Once the Bar located Johnson, she admitted to struggling with personal stress and said she needed to withdraw for a while from further legal work. The Bar referred Johnson to Florida Lawyer’s Assistance for an evaluation. (Case No. SC17-1271)

Jacqueline Marie Kinsella, P.O. Box 1104, Goldenrod, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Feb. 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2016) Kinsella was charged with grand theft, a felony, and two counts of petty larceny, misdemeanors. She was convicted of one misdemeanor count of petty larceny, reduced from the felony, where she entered a no contest plea for stealing money from cash registers on three separate occasions at a department store where she was employed as a non-attorney. (Case No. SC17-55)

Gary W. Kovacs, P.O. Box 273881, Boca Raton. The court granted Kovacs’ petition for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately, following a Feb. 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Kovacs included allegations of theft of firm funds from a former employer. (SC17-2153)

Kelly Kathryn McGraw, 422 Kent Place, Gulf Breeze, disbarred effective 30 days from a Jan. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) McGraw was found in contempt for noncompliance with the terms of Supreme Court Order dated Oct. 31, 2016. McGraw was conditionally reinstated and placed on probation for substance abuse issues. She subsequently tested positive for alcohol on several occasions after signing a contract agreeing to abstain. McGraw also misrepresented on quarterly sworn statements that she was compliant with the terms of her probation. (Case No. SC17-1788)

Stewart Alan Merkin, 174 N.E. 96th St., Miami, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Feb. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1972) Merkin was charged in court with violating federal securities laws. During an investigation, and as counsel, he knowingly made false statements about the status of a company he was representing. Merkin stated that the company was not under investigation. (Case No. SC16-1607)

R. Shant Norsigian, 25987 Woodward Ave., Apt. 106, Royal Oak, Mich., suspended, until further order, effective 30 days from a Feb. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Norsigian was found in contempt for noncompliance. He failed to respond to official Bar inquiries dated Jan. 18, 2017, March 3, 2017, May 2, 2017, and May 25, 2017. (Case No. SC17-2092)

Michael Olshefski, 3925 S. Nova Road, Suite 4, Port Orange, disbarred effective immediately, following a Feb. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice:2006) Olshefski abandoned his law practice without notice to clients and without taking steps to protect their interests. He also failed to communicate with the Bar’s investigative inquiries in the matter, and failed to attend the final hearing. (Case No. SC17-1029)

Robert Joseph Ratiner, 8004 N.W. 154th St., Suite 278, Miami Lakes, disbarred effective immediately, following a Feb. 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Ratiner exhibited cumulative, disparaging misconduct toward other members of the legal profession. On more than one occasion, he was disruptive in court. Ratiner disputed a judge’s testimony that he spoke inappropriately and wrinkled and threw documents on the counsel’s table. He also kicked the leg of a table where the attorney was seated. (Case No. SC13-539)

David Leonard Ross, P.O. Box 18137, Beverly Hills. The court granted Ross’ petition for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately, following a Feb. 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1982) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Ross included allegations that he continued to practice law while suspended. (SC18-77)

Steven Ernest Slootsky, 3054 N.W. 60th St., Boca Raton. The court granted Slootsky’s petition for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after 10 years, effective 30 days from a Jan. 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Slootsky involved a criminal case in which he pleaded guilty in court to 15 felony counts. (SC17-1960)

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