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- 2014 - May - 5th -

Florida Supreme Court disciplines 27 attorneys

From Staff

The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 27 attorneys (none from Jacksonville).

• Shawn Micheal Brannagan, Spring Hill, disbarred effective immediately. Brannagan intentionally misappropriated client funds. In one instance, he testified that the $3,000 he took was a loan from a client. The client denied it. In another, Brannagan misappropriated $2,100 from his trust account and placed $2,000 of those funds in his personal account.

• Richard Bernard Celler, Davie, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter. In a case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Celler was disqualified from representing plaintiffs because of misconduct. Celler engaged in communication with an officer of the opposing party.

• Arthur P. Cohen, Fort Myers, suspended for 30 days and must extend his existing contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., for one year. Cohen was suspended in June 2011 and he failed to comply with his FLA contract. He consumed and tested positive for alcohol, failed to submit to random tests and failed to pay all of his monthly monitoring fees.

• Bruce Edward Committee, Pensacola, suspended for three years, effective retroactive to Aug. 26. Committee filed a frivolous and non-meritorious complaint in the circuit court; he knowingly failed to comply with the court’s order directing him to pay a portion of the defendant’s attorney’s fees; he made a baseless allegation to a U.S. Attorney in an effort to intimidate the defendant; he also gave false testimony to the referee during the final disciplinary hearing.

• Timothy Daniel, Ormond Beach, suspended until further order. According to a petition for emergency suspension, Daniel appeared to be causing great public harm by intentionally misappropriating client funds.

• Kathleen M. P. Davis, Greenacres, suspended until further order. According to a petition for emergency suspension, Davis appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client funds. A Bar investigation found that Davis made numerous material misrepresentations to The Florida Bar and commingled personal and trust fund accounts.

• Thomas P. Fox, Tampa, suspended for 91 days. Fox was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a Jan. 19, 2011, suspension order that also placed him on probation for three years. Fox had agreed to enter into a contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc. related to alcohol abuse.

• John Anthony Garcia, West Palm Beach, permanently disbarred effective immediately. Garcia was found in contempt for failing to comply with a March 4, 2008, court order. He was disbarred but continued to practice.

• Harry Orrin Hendry, Fort Myers, to be publicly reprimanded. Hendry was retained to represent a client in a probate case. Hendry failed to make corrections as indicated by the client, and he failed to communicate with the client regarding the status of the case. After the case was dismissed, Hendry was terminated by the client.

• Denise Tamara Herman, Clearwater, to be publicly reprimanded. Further, Herman was found liable in a Pinellas County court case and shall satisfy that monetary judgment within a year from the date of the order. In September 2008, Herman was retained to represent a client. Three months later, while the case was still open, Herman borrowed $10,000 from the client but failed to disclose the terms of the transaction in writing. She also failed to advise the client to seek independent legal counsel.

• Charles Edward Hobbs II, Tallahassee, suspended for 30 days. In three separate cases, Hobbs failed to diligently represent clients after he was retained. He failed to communicate with clients and he made misrepresentations to clients, The Florida Bar and the Grievance Committee.

• Daniel Eric Jonas, Miami, suspended for 60 days. Jonas was paid $1,500 to prosecute a lawsuit. In April 2009, Jonas told the client the matter was scheduled for mediation. Attempts to communicate with Jonas after that time were futile. In April 2010, the lawsuit was dismissed for lack of prosecution. The client filed a grievance against Jonas. He failed to respond to either of the Bar’s two letters.

• Joseph Ramon Kruk III, Lakeland, disbarred effective immediately. Kruk engaged in misconduct in three client matters, including misappropriating client funds, incompetence, lack of diligence, failing to maintain adequate client communication and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. He also failed to participate in his own disciplinary proceeding or respond to investigative inquiries from the Bar. At the time of his disbarment, Kruk was suspended following the Bar’s filing of a petition for contempt for failing to respond to the Bar.

• Jeffrey Michael Lasman, Brandon, suspended until further order. Lasman was found in contempt for failure to respond to multiple grievances and avoiding service of a subpoena for trust account records.

• Marc Scott Levin, New York, N.Y., suspended for 90 days. Levin was arrested in January 2013 for attempting to buy cocaine from an undercover narcotics officer. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, a psychiatric evaluation, fines and court costs.

• Anett Lopez, Miami Lakes, suspended for 10 days. Lopez’s trust accounts were overdrawn because she made disbursements against the deposit of an insurance settlement before the deposit was collected. In another instance, Lopez failed to work diligently on a child custody case and it was dismissed for lack of prosecution.

• Charles Denis Miner, Orlando, suspended until further order. According to a petition for emergency suspension, Miner appeared to be causing great public harm. An audit of Miner’s real estate trust account revealed shortages ranging from 50 cents to more than $218,114. As a result, he used the trust balances held for other matters to cover these shortages.

• Daniel Craig Minkes, Miami, suspended for 91 days. Minkes represented a client in two criminal matters, but he failed to appear for trial twice and both times asked a public defender to cover for him. He was subsequently terminated by the client. Minkes failed to respond to the Bar’s initial letters and he failed to attend the Grievance Committee’s evidentiary hearing. In a second matter, Minkes was found guilty of one misdemeanor in court for obstruction and resisting arrest without violence. In a third matter, Minkes was arrested for disorderly intoxication at a police department. These criminal charges are pending.

• Richard Martin Nelson, Weston. The Supreme Court granted Nelson’s request for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Nelson was charged with a crime unrelated to the representation of a client.

• William L. Rogers, Aventura, suspended for 18 months. Further, upon reinstatement, Rogers is placed on probation for 18 months. According to a petition for emergency suspension, Rogers appeared to be causing great public harm. Following trial before a referee, Rogers was found guilty of misuse of client funds, the result of negligent rather than intentional conduct. Rogers was also found guilty of commingling.

• Jeffrey Allan Rosenberg, Boca Raton, suspended for 90 days. Further, Rosenberg shall pay restitution of $42,000 to three clients. Rosenberg failed to properly supervise non-lawyers who provided paralegal services for the law firm’s loan modification clients. The non-lawyers, unbeknownst to Rosenberg, fraudulently solicited and received additional funds from three complainants at locations other than Rosenberg’s law firm.

• Laurie Schrier, Boynton Beach, disbarred effective immediately. Schrier was found in contempt for non-compliance, practicing law while suspended and failure to respond to an official Bar inquiry.

• Paul Christopher Schryver, Naples, to receive a public reprimand administered by the Board of Governors. Schryver was involved in an arrangement with a company that provided financial services to debtors seeking to refinance their mortgages. The company made representations about Schryver’s services to one of its customers and gave legal advice of which Schryver was not aware. Schryver failed to supervise the company.

• Thomas Joel Sherwood, Sun City Center, suspended for 91 days and ordered to pay restitution of more than $31,000 to 14 clients. Twenty-five complaints were filed against Sherwood. From 2009-12, Sherwood was in business with a non-lawyer providing loan modifications and debt resolutions. The business subsequently folded into Sherwood’s law firm. Several non-lawyer employees provided services for clients who were advised that Sherwood was performing the services. In many cases, Sherwood failed to obtain loan modification results for clients, failed to keep them informed and failed to pursue their loan modifications. He also improperly split fees with non-lawyer employees and he failed to properly supervise them. He engaged in the unlicensed practice of law by representing clients outside of Florida in their home state without being admitted.

• Jeffrey Anak Smith, Stuart, suspended for 91 days. Further, upon reinstatement, Smith shall be placed on probation for three years. He shall also pay restitution of $62,300 to 26 clients and participate in fee arbitration with approximately 40 other clients. Between 2010 and 2012, Smith engaged in an improper course of conduct involving loan modification matters, resulting in numerous client complaints. He failed to adequately supervise non-lawyer employees who were assigned to work on the cases and he failed to diligently represent and communicate with his clients regarding their loan modifications.

• Paul Dunlap Srygley, Tallahassee, suspended for 91 days. Srygley was retained in February 2005 to represent a client. She said she had trouble contacting him and he was constantly misplacing her file and repeatedly asking her to resend documents. On July 8, 2009, the client advised Srygley that she intended to file a complaint with The Florida Bar. The next day Srygley informed her that the statute of limitations had run out and she did not have a viable case. In October 2009, the client requested a refund of two-thirds of the $3,500 fee within 30 days. Srygley promised to refund the money, however, it was not refunded until May 2011.

• Edwin Richard Tilton, Gainesville, disbarred effective immediately. Tilton pleaded no contest in court to three separate crimes including battery and domestic violence against a then-girlfriend that he was representing in dependency proceedings.

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