The Florida Supreme Court disciplined 21 attorneys — disbarring three, revoking the license of one, suspending 12 and publicly reprimanding five.
Six attorneys received more than one form of discipline. One attorney was ordered to pay restitution and five also were placed on probation.
• Marcy Elizabeth Abitz, Cooper City, suspended until she fully responds in writing to an official Florida Bar inquiry. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Abitz was found in contempt for non-compliance. She failed to respond to official Bar inquiries.
• Jack Alan Bellan, Coral Springs, disbarred effective immediately. This is a reciprocal discipline action. (Admitted to practice: 1989) Bellan was indefinitely suspended from practicing before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida. He consistently failed to properly, competently and diligently represent a debtor. Bellan failed to appear at every hearing, caused the estate to incur tremendous expenses as a result of his incompetence and contemptuously failed to comply with the court’s orders.
• Joseph Bernstein, Fort Lauderdale, suspended until further order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) According to a petition for emergency suspension order, Bernstein appears to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client funds.
• Arthur Clinton Black, Orlando, suspended for 30 days. Further, upon reinstatement, Black shall be placed on probation for one year and complete a trust accounting workshop. (Admitted to practice: 1972) A Florida Bar auditor found Black was not in substantial compliance with Bar rules governing trust accounts during the audit period Dec. 1, 2014-June 30, 2015.
• Allen Montgomery Blake, Sarasota, suspended for one year. (Admitted to practice: 1969) Blake was found in contempt for non-compliance. Specifically, Blake was required to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension and provide the Bar with a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of his suspension order. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $1,500 to a client, but did not provide proof of payment to the Bar.
• Kevan Kenneth Boyles, West Palm Beach, suspended for one year. (Admitted to practice: 1979) Boyles requested from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles a list of all crashes in 2009 involving a fatality. Using the information obtained from crash reports and death certificates, Boyles filed petitions for administration in 12 matters, requesting he be appointed the personal representative. In 15 matters, he filed complaints for wrongful death. Respondent had no communications with the decedents’ survivors and no authority from them prior to filing these matters.
• Lynn Anne Brauer, Santa Rosa, to be publicly reprimanded. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Brauer failed to act with reasonable diligence in the handling of a guardianship case. She represented the guardian and failed to file required documents with the court. On three occasions, Brauer ignored orders to file the delinquent documents and/or to appear before the court. She was replaced by another attorney.
• Christopher Lee Buttermore, Coral Springs, suspended until further order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Buttermore was found in contempt for failure to respond to an official Bar inquiry regarding a complaint.
• Jared G. Dokovna, Palm Beach Gardens, suspended until further order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Dokovna was found in contempt for non-compliance and failure to respond to an official Bar inquiry regarding a complaint.
• John Christopher Getzinger, Coral Springs, suspended for one year. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Getzinger was found in contempt for failing to comply with a Sept. 11 suspension order. Specifically, Getzinger was required to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension and provide the Bar with a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of his suspension order.
• J. Marshall Gilmore, Winter Park, suspended for 30 days. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Upon reinstatement, he is placed on probation for two years. A Bar audit determined Gilmore’s trust account was not in substantial compliance with Bar rules. He did not diligently handle a complex civil case, nor did he adequately communicate with his clients regarding the status of the matter. Gilmore did not timely respond to Bar inquiries.
• Daniel J. Grieco, Largo, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter and to attend ethics school. (Admitted to practice: 1972) Grieco represented a woman in a personal injury case. The case was settled for $12,000 and Grieco disbursed the money to the client without satisfying a letter of protection from one of the client’s medical providers. At that time, Grieco was informed the medical provider was seeking insurance reimbursement for her services. Grieco contends it was not until after the distribution of the settlement funds that the medical provider advised insurance did not cover the services and the bill was still outstanding.
• Stuart Carl Hoffman, Boca Raton, disbarred effective immediately. (Admitted to practice: 1990) In two matters, Hoffman was paid for his services, but after being retained, he took little or no significant action. In a third case, he abandoned the client’s matter. In all three matters, the clients made attempts to contact Hoffman but he did not respond. Upon investigation, the Bar learned Hoffman vacated the office space at the address on record with the Bar.
• Robert Hill Hosch Jr., Dallas. The Supreme Court granted Hosch’s request for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Hosch was an allegation he ceased operations of a company because of a financing dispute with its lender. Many foreclosure cases were pending and court hearings were left without counsel.
• Natalie Aleta Jackson, Orlando, suspended for 90 days. Further, upon reinstatement, She shall be placed on probation for two years and complete a trust accounting workshop. She shall also contact Florida Lawyers Assistance for an evaluation. (Admitted to practice: 2003) A Bar audit found Jackson was not in substantial minimum compliance with the Bar rules governing trust accounts during the 2015 audit period of Jan. 1-Sept. 30.
• John T. Jenkins Jr., Palm Beach Gardens, suspended for 90 days. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Jenkins represented a client in a case in appeals court. When Jenkins failed to respond to an initial order, the court issued another order requiring him to show why the case should not be dismissed. Jenkins failed to respond. He was finally given 10 days to respond to the court. Again, he failed to respond.
• Carlos Adrian Marin, Coconut Grove, to be publicly reprimanded and placed on probation for three years. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Marin pleaded no contest in court to reckless driving and driving while his license was suspended. He was adjudicated guilty and sentenced to 90 days of house arrest and 12 months of probation.
• Leroy H. Merkle Jr., Tampa, to be publicly reprimanded and placed on probation for two years. (Admitted to practice: 1975) Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, Merkle failed to maintain required records on his trust account and failed to perform the required monthly reconciliations to ensure funds in his trust account were properly maintained. As a result, Merkle failed to keep the correct funds in his account at all times.
• Stephen Bruce Rakusin, Fort Lauderdale, suspended for 90 days. (Admitted to practice: 1974) Rakusin hired and failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer who engaged in the active practice of law. Rakusin entered into a business transaction with a client but failed to put the terms in writing, causing him to charge fees that were illegal and excessive. He subsequently withdrew from the case.
• C. Byron Stout III, St. Petersburg, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter. Further, Stout shall complete ethics school. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Stout engaged in providing loan modification services predominantly to out-of-state clients. He entered into a business relationship with a staffing company to assist with handling mortgage modifications under his supervision. Stout’s representation and collection of fees from out-of-state clients did not fully comply with state and federal rules regulating mortgage assistance relief services.
• Horecia Ingram Walker, Miramar, permanently disbarred. Further, Walker shall pay restitution of $11,321.60 to a client. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Walker misappropriated client funds that should have been held in trust. A Bar audit revealed Walker did not maintain minimum trust accounting records and procedures. She failed to respond to Bar inquiries regarding these matters and failed to provide requested records to a subpoena.
Be the first to know the latest breaking news and information that business leaders rely on in this fast-paced changing Northeast Florida economy. Regional business news, trends and statistics needed to grow your business. Key upcoming events you won’t want to miss and much more. Click Here to Grow your Business NOW!