SUPREME COURT DISCIPLINES 20 ATTORNEYS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2017
CONTACT: The Florida Bar Public Information Dept.,
The Florida Bar
Summaries of orders issued Jan. 26 – Feb. 23, 2017
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 20 attorneys – disbarring five, suspending nine, and publicly reprimanding six. Three attorneys were also placed on probation; two were ordered to pay restitution.
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 104,000-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.
Anthony Joseph Alfero, 2650 W. State Road 84, Suite 102, Fort Lauderdale, to receive a public reprimand, administered by a referee, following a Jan. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) During the course of representing a wife in a dissolution of marriage case, Alfero filed several pleadings and sent correspondence containing allegations and statements designed to embarrass and humiliate opposing counsel. Unbeknownst to Alfero, his assistant also sent out correspondence disparaging the opposing attorney. (Case No. SC16-1203)
Renee Binns, 2040 N.E. 5th Terrace, Cape Coral, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Feb. 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Binns was found in contempt for noncompliance. She failed to respond to an official Bar inquiry regarding a complaint. (Case No. SC16-2116)
Jennifer Byrom, 5177 Elmira St., P.O. Box 685, Milton, to receive a public reprimand administered by a referee, following a Jan. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Further, Byrom shall complete 30 hours of continuing legal education credits; half in guardianship and the remainder in guardianship, probate, and/or estate planning. During the course of serving as a voluntary guardian of a widow’s property for 10 years, Byrom charged excessive fees, totaling more than $400,000. (Case No. SC16-1217)
Lillian Clover, 2323 S. Washington Ave., Suite 203, Titusville, suspended for 60 days, effective 30 days from a Feb. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Further, Clover is directed to attend ethics school. Clover represented a father in a paternity action. During discovery, Clover sought and obtained approval from the court to obtain medical records pertaining to the mother of the child. The court ordered that the medical records were to be sealed. The trial court found that Clover violated the court order by providing information contained in the records to law enforcement and found her in indirect criminal contempt. (Case No. SC17-106)
Gregory Alan Crutchfield, 5575 U.S. Highway 1, Rockledge, suspended for 30 days, effective Feb. 11, following a Feb. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Further, Crutchfield is ordered to attend ethics school. Crutchfield filed a motion in his marital dissolution proceeding making allegations about his former wife. Crutchfield was later called as a witness in an unrelated matter involving the former wife and questioned about the allegations. He testified that they were “overstated and misguided.” Crutchfield denied intentionally making false statements and blamed his perception on stress, heartbreak and lack of sleep. In a second matter, Crutchfield made inappropriate and unprofessional comments to a client, while representing her in a serious criminal matter. (Case No. SC16-1655)
Matthew Shane Englett, 150 N. Orange Ave., Suite 100, Orlando, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a Feb. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Englett improperly shared fees with non-lawyer employees which financially rewarded the non-lawyers for bringing cases into the firm. (Case No. SC17-109)
Richard Eugene Ehrlich, 9900 W. Sample Road, Suite 317, Coral Gables, suspended for 90 days, effective March 1, following a Feb. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Further, Ehrlich, and his former partner, William Mathew Franz, are liable for paying restitution of $9,355 to six clients. Another client was previously refunded $4,600. From 2011 to mid-2014, Ehrlich and Franz operated a loan modification business through their law firm. They hired non-lawyers to do the work, and most of the communication with clients was done by non-lawyer employees. One employee obtained clients in Maryland, who were improperly charged upfront retainer fees, although neither attorney was licensed to practice in that state. (Case No. SC17-129)
William Mathew Franz, 9821 N.W. 66th St., Tamarac, suspended for 90 days, effective March 1, following a Feb. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Further, Franz, and his former partner, Richard Eugene Ehrlich, are liable for paying restitution of $9,355 to six clients. Another client was previously refunded $4,600. From 2011 to mid-2014, Franz and Ehrlich operated a loan modification business through their law firm. They hired non-lawyers to do the work, and most of the communication with clients was done by non-lawyer employees. One employee obtained clients in Maryland, who were improperly charged upfront retainer fees, although neither attorney was licensed to practice in that state. (Case No. SC17-136)
Theodore Stewart Fries, Jr., 5465 N.E. 1st Lane, Ocala, disbarred effective immediately, following a Feb. 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Fries was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of an Aug. 12, 2016, suspension order. Specifically, Fries was required to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his three-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 his suspension order. (Case No. SC16-2177)
Nicole Mae Frost, 300 Turner St., Clearwater, disbarred effective immediately, following a Feb. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Frost was negligent in the representation of two homeowners associations. She misappropriated funds belonging to the associations, and failed to hold the funds in her trust account. Frost also failed to respond to Bar inquiries regarding the grievance filed against her. (Case No. SC16-1233)
Kelly Brook Hampton, 459 Sturdivant Ave., Atlantic Beach, to be publicly reprimanded following a Feb. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) In one case, Hampton began representing a client, then stopped communicating. In another matter, Hampton agreed to help a client with a case, but it was never resolved.
(Case No. SC16-2282)
Osa Jackson Harp, IV, 224 W. Fort Dade Ave., Brooksville, disbarred effective 30 days from a Feb. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) In numerous instances, Harp failed to diligently represent clients, after accepting fees. He often failed to communicate, failed to act on cases, missed office appointments and routinely failed to appear for scheduled hearings. Harp also consistently failed to meet filing deadlines. (Case Nos. SC16-261 & SC16-527)
Jeffrey Allen Harrington, 100 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, to be publicly reprimanded following a Jan. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Harrington was negligent in handling two cases. In one instance, he was paid a flat fee and did not file bankruptcy documents on time, causing the case to be dismissed. When he filed documents to reinstate the case, Harrington demanded an additional fee from the client. He withdrew the motion to reinstate when the client refused. In a foreclosure defense matter, Harrington failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee whose activities could be construed as giving legal advice. (Case No. SC16-379)
Denise Tamara Herman, 7850 Umberton Road, Suite 2B, Largo, to be publicly reprimanded, and further, placed on probation, following a Feb. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice:2006) Herman pleaded no contest and was adjudicated guilty to a charge of driving under the influence. She had a prior DUI conviction in 2008, but did not report either to The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC16-925)
Antonios Poulos, 1502 W. Busch Blvd., Suite 200, Tampa, disbarred effective immediately, following a Jan. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) In one matter, Poulos represented a couple in foreclosure proceedings, then represented the wife in a dissolution of marriage while still the attorney of record in the foreclosure. In three other matters, Poulos did not diligently represent clients after being retained. He failed to take action on their cases, failed to respond to a court’s motion, and failed to adequately communicate with clients and the Bar. (Case No. SC16-584)
David Laurence Prince, P.O. Box 19430, Plantation, suspended for one year, effective retroactive to Oct. 18, 2016, following a Feb. 2 court order.(Admitted to practice: 1996) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Prince appeared to be causing great public harm. A Bar investigation indicates that Prince abandoned his practice, charged excessive fees and failed to protect his clients. The Bar has more than 50 open investigations against Prince, based on sworn complaints from the public and one from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of Virginia. (Case No. SC16-1755)
Marlon Alphanso Smikle, 709 Secret Harbor Lane, Unit 307, Lake Mary, disbarred effective immediately, following a Feb. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2014) Smikle pleaded no contest in circuit court to practicing law without a license, a felony. He had been suspended previously in October 2015 for three years for his plea of no contest to the third-degree felony of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a county correctional facility. (Case Nos. SC15-2317 & SC16-949)
John David Snell, 327 Parkwood Place, Niceville, to be publicly reprimanded by a referee, and further placed on probation for two years, following a Jan. 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) In a petition signed under oath, Snell stated that he had not practiced law, when in fact, he had. Snell was notified previously by The Florida Bar that he needed to complete his Continuing Legal Education Requirements. When he failed to do so, he was notified that he was CLER delinquent and ineligible to practice until he removed the delinquency. (Case No. SC16-1232)
Bradford L. Stewart, P.O. Box 2188, Bartow, suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Feb. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Stewart advised a client in a paternity/child support matter, and the client's employer, his uncle, that they could change the client’s job position to one with a lower salary, which could reduce the client’s child support obligation. Stewart then filed his client’s amended verified financial affidavit reflecting the lower income. The scheme was not discovered until several years later, when emails between the client, uncle and Stewart were provided to the mother. (Case No. SC17-101)
Michael Eugene Wynn, 5000 Higginbotham Road, Fort Myers, suspended for one year and placed on two years of probation, following a Feb. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Wynn converted client funds given to him for costs for his own use and repaid the funds after the clients filed a bar grievance. In addition, he attempted to condition the repayment on the clients’ agreement to withdraw the grievance they filed with The Florida Bar. Wynn also incorrectly completed a certificate of disclosure form for the Bar, and he failed to timely notify his superiors at the Office of Regional Conflict Counsel, Second District, of the grievance filed against him by the client. (Case No. SC15-1323)
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."