Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Florida Bar Issues Quarterly 'Gossip Sheet'

From a recent issue of The Florida Bar's quarterly 'gossip sheet':

  • 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 24 attorneys, disbarring 12 and suspending 10. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. Two attorneys were placed on probation; two attorneys were publicly reprimanded and two were ordered to pay restitution.

Among those making the 'honor roll' specifically for playing fast and loose with their clients' cash, and, in a couple of cases, for improper conduct in holding themselves as providing foreclosure defense and loan modification services are listed below. Also indicated is the appropriate hammering, commensurate with their handiwork, that each was belted with:

  1. Paul Francis Angueira, 1808 NW 126th Ave, Pembroke Pines, disbarred effective immediately, following an Aug. 25 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Further, Angueira shall pay restitution of more than $11,000 to two clients. In several instances, Angueira misappropriated and misused client funds. (Case No. SC11-92).

  2. Thomas W. Dvorak, 633 S. Andrews Ave., Suite 402, Fort Lauderdale, suspended for one year, following an Aug. 25 court order. The suspension shall run consecutive to the one-year suspension ordered in June 2010 and is effective retroactive to July 24, 2011. Further, as a condition of his eligibility to apply for reinstatement, Dvorak shall pay restitution totaling approximately $125,000 to clients in both cases and enter into an agreement with Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Dvorak is the subject of seven Bar investigations. After collecting legal fees from several clients in mortgage loan modifications and real estate foreclosure defense cases, Dvorak failed to keep the clients informed of their cases, failed to competently and diligently represent them and failed to communicate with them. He took little or no action in their cases. (Case No. SC11-1499).

  3. David Eric Hammer, 1005 N. Marion St., Tampa, disbarred, effective retroactive to Sept. 22, 2010, following an Aug. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Hammer misappropriated client trust funds for his personal use. (Case No. SC10-2029).

  4. Larry Elliot Klayman, 2929 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., No. 35, Washington, D.C., publicly reprimanded following an Aug. 29 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Klayman agreed to submit to mediation through The Florida Bar's Grievance Mediation Program after a former client filed a complaint alleging that he had failed to provide services in a criminal case for which he was paid a $25,000 retainer. After entering into a mediation agreement, Klayman failed to repay the money in full within the specified time. (Case No. SC11-247).

  5. Denise Letizia, P.O. Box 7256, Wesley Chapel, disbarred effective 30 days from an Aug. 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Letizia engaged in dishonest conduct by using an invalid power of attorney to withdraw more than $100,000 from bank accounts bearing her developmentally disabled brother's name. She also demonstrated a pattern of misconduct regarding the representation of her brother and in the subsequent disciplinary proceedings. (Case No. SC09-1308).

  6. James Robert Mann, 1220 16th Street, Miami, disbarred effective immediately, following an Aug. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) In several instances, a Bar auditor found trust account irregularities because of misuse of client funds. In one case, a client gave Mann $5,000 to fund a settlement agreement. Instead of holding the funds in his trust account as required, Mann used the money to satisfy his own unrelated personal and business obligations. (Case No. SC10-2318).

  7. William Timothy O’Toole, 1489 W. Palmetto Park Road, Suite 494, Boca Raton, suspended until further order, following a July 25 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) O’Toole is the subject of 20 Bar disciplinary matters. According to a petition for emergency suspension, O’Toole appeared to be causing great public harm by failing to properly communicate with clients and failing to diligently handle their cases. O’Toole allowed nonlawyers to improperly solicit clients on his behalf for loan modifications and foreclosure defense on a nationwide basis, despite the fact he can only practice law in Florida. He also split fees with nonlawyers, a violation of Bar rules. (Case No. SC11-1384).

  8. Jeffrey Alan Schwarz, 801 N.E. 167th Street, North Miami Beach, suspended until further order, following a Sept. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1976) After being retained for $8,500 to represent two clients on charges of drug trafficking charges, Schwarz failed to adequately represent them. Schwarz neither met nor communicated with clients while they were in custody. Schwarz also allowed a non-lawyer assistant to communicate with the clients’ families and accept money for representation. The clients testified that the paralegal told them he was their lawyer and they believed that he was representing them. (Case No. SC09-766).

For the entire gossip sheet, see Supreme Court Disciplines 24 Attorneys (October 31, 2011).(1)

(1) The Florida Bar's Clients' Security Fund was established to reimburse clients who have suffered a loss due to misappropriation or embezzle­ment by a Florida-licensed attorney.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:

Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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