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 27 attorneys, disbarring 12, suspending eight and placing five on probation. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. Seven attorneys were publicly reprimanded. One was ordered to pay restitution.
None of the attorneys that were disciplined are from the Jacksonville area or belong to The Jacksonville Bar Association.
The following lawyers are disciplined:
• Frank Michael Costanzo of Baltimore was disbarred for 10 years effective immediately, following a July 2 court order. Costanzo was placed on emergency suspension in December 2008 for misappropriating client funds and abandoning his practice. After being served with the Bar’s complaint at his address of record and by e-mail, Costanzo failed to respond.
• Kenneth J. Dunn was Pompano Beach was disbarred for five years, effective retroactive to April 17, 2006, following a July 16 court order. Dunn was suspended by the Bar in 2006. He violated the terms of the suspension by practicing law, posing as a lawyer and opening trust and operating accounts as if he were an active attorney.
• Justin Edward Gould of Humble, Texas was disbarred effective 30 days from a July 2 court order. In at least 11 instances, Gould accepted payment from clients for representation, but failed to adequately communicate and provide services. In one case, Gould’s negligence resulted in the deportation of a client.
• Kurt S. Harmon of Fort Lauderdale was disbarred for five years, effective 30 days from an Aug. 13 court order. Harmon abandoned his clients and his law practice. He neglected to communicate with clients, he failed to returned unearned legal fees to them and he misappropriated client funds. Harmon also failed to respond to the Bar’s inquiries regarding the complaints.
• Caswell Adington Hart of Surfside was disbarred permanently, effective retroactive to July 14, 2008. following a July 23 court order. Hart is further ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $7,500 to one party in a real estate transaction; $17,500 to another party in a different real estate transaction and $104,733.42 to an estate. Hart misappropriated funds, he abandoned client files after being evicted from his law office and he provided false information to the Bar. Hart was suspended in 2008 for failing to respond to a grievance committee subpoena.
• Andrew William Menyhart of Merritt Island was disbarred for five years, effective immediately, following an Aug. 13 court order. Menyhart was placed on emergency suspension in March for misappropriating funds from his trust account. In one matter, a $19,000 check written on Menyhart’s trust account was returned due to insufficient funds. On another occasion, Menyhart wrote a check to a client as partial payment of a settlement. That check was also returned. An audit by The Florida Bar found that Menyhart altered bank statements to show that he was still holding funds for a $100,000 estate, when in fact, he was not.
• Jerome David Mitchell of Daytona Beach was disbarred for 10 years effective immediately, following a July 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) From about 2005 though December 2007, Mitchell was a title issuing agent and closed numerous loans on behalf of the Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund. In the course of conducting those transactions, Mitchell failed to remit approximately $25 million to satisfy existing mortgages and encumbrances.
• John Michael Moody II of Wilton Manors was disbarred for five years, effective immediately, following a July 16 court order. In October 2008, Moody was sentenced to four months in a federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release. He was charged with intimidating and assaulting flight attendants while an aircraft was airborne.
• Charles Houston Richards Jr. of Atlanta, Ga. was disbarred effective retroactive to Sept. 3, 2008, following a July 2 Court order. Richards was disbarred from the State Bar of Georgia in September 2008. Richards was retained to represent two clients in separate cases and failed to provide services. In one instance, he was paid $8,000, but after the first month, failed to adequately communicate. In another case, Richards received funds for a client in a worker’s compensation settlement. He deducted more than the agreed upon fee from the funds and failed to allow the client to review the disbursements made to medical providers.
• David Michael Scott of Dania was disbarred effective immediately, following a July 2 court order. Scott was hired by clients in two separate cases and failed to provide services. In one instance, he received a retainer of more than $5,000 but failed to communicate with the client and eventually disappeared. A Bar audit found that Scott misappropriated approximately $18,150 in client trust funds. He ignored Bar inquires and failed to appear at related hearings.
• William Francis Sullivan IV of South Miami was disbarred effective immediately, following a July 2 court order. In connection with his primarily personal injury law practice, Sullivan received client funds and failed to preserve and apply them as required by Bar rules regulating trust accounts.
• Jerrold Keith Wingate of the Republic of South Africa was disbarred effective 30 days from a July 2 court order. Wingate’s law firm handled numerous lawsuits for plaintiffs against a cruise line. Over the period of a year-and-a-half ending in September 2007, paralegals employed and supervised by Wingate paid cash to an informant from the cruise line’s risk management department to provide them with confidential information related to the lawsuits. Wingate, the two paralegals and a bookkeeper each contributed funds to start his law firm and fees received from the settlement of the cruise line cases were divided between them.
• Jeffrey Scott Campos of Fort Lauderdale was suspended for 20 months, effective 30 days from a July 23 court order. Campos was the subject of nine Bar complaints. He set up a law firm and was also involved in operating a law firm in which a partner was a non-lawyer. He failed to deposit client funds in a trust account as promised; his letterhead improperly reflected an address for a New York law office, and after retaining thousands of clients, he failed to communicate and diligently represent them — all violations of Bar rules.
• Jason Andrew Cobb of Defuniak Springs was suspended for 90 days effective Sept. 19, following a Sept. 3 court order. Upon reinstatement, Cobb was further placed on probation for three years. Cobb pleaded no contest to possession of a controlled substance with intent to purchase, a felony. He was sentenced to five years probation, which included 11 months and 29 days in jail. Cobb was also negligent in the handling of a probate case.
• Brian Alan Coury of Lake Mary, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a July 16 court order. Coury was negligent in providing competent service as the appointed personal representative for an estate.
• Guillermo Napoleon Lopez of Miami was suspended until further order, following a July 28 court order. According to the petition for emergency suspension, Lopez appeared to be causing great public harm. Lopez facilitated the misappropriation of trust funds by his sister, Maria T. Lopez, an attorney who was placed on emergency suspension in October 2008. Additionally, Lopez was the settlement agent for real estate actions in which he failed to disburse monies as required. In at least one instance, Lopez failed to record a deed and mortgage for a transaction.
• Lawrence Daniel Montekio of Sarasota was suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a July 2 court order. Upon reinstatement, Montekio is further placed on probation for two years. In at least four cases between 2007 and 2008, Montekio was retained by clients and failed to perform legal services. He neglected to communicate with the clients and the Bar and in one case, he misrepresented the truth to a client and a judge and failed to respond to a subpoena.
• Michael A. Moulis of Fort Lauderdale was suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a July 16 court order. Moulis is further placed on probation for one year, effective immediately. On numerous occasions between 2007 and 2008, the Bar was notified by a bank that fees had been deducted against insufficient funds on Moulis’ trust account. An audit found trust account shortages for each month of the audit period. Moulis used his trust account for personal purposes as well as for trust funds, he failed to maintain the required minimum trust account records and he was not in substantial compliance with the minimum trust accounting requirements.
• Donald Joseph Murray of Miami was suspended for three years, effective 30 days from a July 16 court order. Murray failed to properly supervise a suspended attorney who subsequently committed real estate fraud while employed by Murray.
• Joel Lee Sherman of Tampa was suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a July 2 court order. In numerous instances, Sherman accepted retainer fees, often in the thousands of dollars, but neglected to communicate with the clients and failed to perform legal services. Sherman refused to respond to the several Bar inquiries.
• Carl Roland Hayes of Tampa was publicly reprimanded following a July 2 court order. Hayes is further ordered to attend ethics school. Hayes failed to keep all trust account records as required by Bar rules.
• Martin Ralph Mallinger of Boca Raton was publicly reprimanded following a July 16 court order. In the course of handling a probate case in which he was personal representative and a beneficiary, Mallinger failed to probate and distribute funds belonging to the other beneficiaries and instead, deposited the monies after the client’s death into a joint account he held with the deceased.
• Margaret Blot of North Miami Beach, publicly reprimanded and placed on probation for two years, effective immediately, following a July 2 court order. A Florida Bar audit revealed that Blot was not in technical compliance with rules regulating trust accounts. As a result, two checks drawn on her trust account in the summer of 2008 were returned by a bank for insufficient funds.
• Julio Ricardo More of Hialeah, publicly reprimanded and placed on probation for six months, effective immediately, following a July 2 court order. More disseminated a television advertisement regarding foreclosure defense which aired numerous times in 2008 on a Miami television station. The ad was not filed with the Bar’s standing committee on advertising, it did not contain More’s name as the lawyer responsible for the content and it was misleading.
• R. Eric Rubio of Brandon was publicly reprimanded, following a July 16 court order. Rubio failed to provide competent representation to clients in both bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings. He neglected to act with required diligence and he neglected to properly communicate. Rubio also failed to appear at a hearing on a motion for sanctions related to his conduct and he did not advise the court of his unavailability.
• Marc Stuart Schiller of Fort Lauderdale was publicly reprimanded following a July 1 court order. Schiller failed to comply with Florida Bar advertising rules. Schiller committed related advertising offenses on two prior occasions and was admonished in 2004 and 2006.
• Robert H. Springer of Lake Worth was publicly reprimanded following a July 2 court order. After representing a client in a matter, Springer improperly represented another person in the same matter in which that person’s interests were adverse to the interests of the former client.