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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Apr. 7, 201512:00 PM EST

Jacksonville attorney among 28 disciplined by Florida Supreme Court

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The Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 28 attorneys; disbarring three, revoking the licenses of five, suspending 15 and publicly reprimanding six. Three attorneys received more than one form of discipline.

One is from Jacksonville:

• Brenda L. McCann, 4237 Salisbury Road, Suite 400. The court granted McCann a permanent disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission, effective immediately. Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. McCann had several cases pending related to her loan modification and foreclosure defense practice as well as her debt settlement practice.

Others are:

• Rashmi Airan-Pace, South Miami. The court granted Airan-Pace a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately. Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. Charges pending against Airan-Pace involve allegations of mortgage fraud. In December 2014, Airan-Pace pleaded guilty to the felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States — bank fraud. Her role included making material misrepresentations on real estate closing documents and facilitating the transfer of funds through accounts under her control, knowing that funds being paid to buyers were not being disclosed on the HUD settlement statements, nor to the mortgage lenders.

• Brad Alexander, Miami, suspended for one year, effective April 20. Alexander is the subject of several Bar disciplinary matters, including a few with findings of probable cause by the Grievance Committee. Alexander admits to failing to appear for scheduled court appearances after agreeing to provide legal services for clients. He also failed to communicate and provide competent representation.

• Angela Morton Armstrong, Palm Harbor, suspended for one year, effective immediately. Armstrong was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of July 31, 2014, suspension order. Specifically, Armstrong was ordered to notify her clients, opposing counsel and the courts of her status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of her suspension order.

• Jean J. Barnett, Stuart, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter. A compliance audit resulted from a notice to The Florida Bar, from a bank, indicating that Barnett’s trust account had insufficient funds. The audit determined that Barnett was negligent in her bookkeeping and failed to maintain all of the required minimum trust account records and procedures.

• David Jay Bernstein, Deerfield Beach, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter. Bernstein failed to properly supervise a non-lawyer employee, who subsequently was prosecuted for Unlicensed Practice of Law. Also, Bernstein’s law office disseminated a direct mail advertisement that was not filed with The Florida Bar for review 20 days in advance, as required. The trades names used on the direct mail letter, “Federal Legal Center” and “Federal Criminal Defense Center,” could be considered misleading and deceptive, implying a connection with a government agency.

• John Neil Buso, West Palm Beach, suspended for nine months. Between 2004 and 2007, Buso failed to file all the payroll tax returns and statements with the Internal Revenue Service for an employee who’d worked for him for 20 years. During the same seven-year period, Buso failed to pay Social Security taxes to the IRS for the employee.

• James Newell Charles, Celebration, suspended for one year. Charles placed fraudulent material facts (exhibits) before the federal court to enhance the value of a case. Further, Charles did not make the client’s claims in good faith and with full disclosure, causing the client to lose his right to recovery, when he would have been entitled to receive some compensation for his damages.

• Lillian Clover, Titusville, suspended for 30 days and upon reinstatement, placed on probation for two years. Clover did not maintain the required trust account records nor did she regularly perform the mandatory trust accounting procedures. Clover improperly maintained personal funds in her trust account and as a result of inadequate record keeping, she made disbursements from her trust account that exceeded the personal funds held in account. In another matter, Clover failed to provide competent and diligent representation in a post-conviction matter.

• Daniel Mark Cohen, West Palm Beach, to be publicly reprimanded and suspended for 10 days. Although it was properly noticed, Cohen knowingly and intentionally failed to attend a client’s resentencing hearing. He also made no effort to contact the judge to explain his absence.

• Christopher Jordan Dale, Tampa, to be publicly reprimanded. Dale was retained on Aug. 20, 2010, to file an amended motion or notice of appearance for a client. He had not done so by the time the court ruled on Dec. 9, 2010.

• Jeffrey Wayne Day, Flint Hill, Va., suspended for 91 days, effective immediately. Day did not adequately communicate the amount of his fee in a contingency case or properly disperse settlement proceeds. He failed to provide his client with a contingency agreement, statement of client’s rights and failed to return the client’s phone calls or inform him that he had moved out-of-state. Day also had to hire a collection agency to obtain the remainder of his settlement.

• Peggy Lynne Diorio, West Palm Beach, permanently disbarred effective immediately. Diorio was found in contempt for continuing to practice law while ineligible. She failed to comply with the terms of a Dec. 19, 2002, order in which the Florida Supreme Court approved Diorio’s petition for disciplinary resignation and allowed her to resign with leave to apply in five years. Disciplinary resignation is tantamount to disbarment.

• Adam James Ellis, Florida Department of Transportation, Tallahassee, to be publicly reprimanded and further placed on probation for three years. Ellis pleaded no contest to assault and harassment charges in Oregon. In two other instances, Ellis engaged in inappropriate behavior that showed a lack of fitness and character as a member of the legal profession.

• Marcia Vestylena Forsett, Frostproof, suspended for 91 days, effective immediately. Forsett was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a Sept. 4, 2014, court order. Specifically, Forsett was ordered to notify her clients, opposing counsel and the courts of her status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of her suspension order.

• Cristina Franca G. Fuschi, Panama City, suspended for two years. Further, Fuschi shall enter into a new three-year contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc. A Florida Bar investigation revealed Fuschi has had numerous arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Her driver’s license was permanently revoked on April 3, 2012, as a result of being found guilty of four more DUI charges. Since 2002, Fuschi has failed to report any of the criminal arrests and convictions to The Florida Bar.

• Janice L. Jennings, West Palm Beach, suspended for 91 days and indefinitely thereafter, until she complies with the terms and conditions set forth in a Feb. 19 court order and demonstrates rehabilitation. Jennings refused The Florida Bar’s request that she schedule a mental health evaluation with Florida Lawyers Assistance. The request came after the Bar learned of a written filing and statements in which Jennings advised the court, among other things, that her former employer had caused the implantation of a microchip in her left ear that was designed to harm and disrupt her ability to function.

• Jeffrey Michael Lasman, Brandon, disbarred effective immediately. Lasman was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a March 6, 2014 suspension order and practiced law while suspended. Also, he was required to send notice of his suspension to all clients, opposing counsel and courts for all pending matters.

• Neal Randolph Lewis, Palmetto Bay. The court granted Lewis a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately. Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. A Florida Bar emergency suspension case was pending against Lewis, regarding allegations of misappropriation of client funds.

• Manuel R. Lopez, Coral Gables, suspended for one year, effective immediately. Lopez was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of an Oct. 15, 2014, suspension order. Specifically, Lopez was ordered to notify his clients, opposing counsel and the courts of his status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of his suspension order.

• Paul William Moses II, Orlando, disbarred effective retroactive to April 9, 2012. By Supreme Court Order in SC11-1218, dated March 8, 2012, Moses was suspended from the practice of law for 91 days, effective 30 days from the date of that order. In violation of the March 8, 2012 suspension order, he took on new client matters after that date.

• James L. Padgett, Palatka, permanent disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission. Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. Padgett had disciplinary charges pending in one case related to trust account violations.

• Sarah Pashaee, Oviedo, suspended for three years, effective immediately. Pashaee was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a June 19, 2014, suspension order. Specifically, Pashaee was ordered to notify her clients, opposing counsel and the courts of her status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of her suspension order. She also failed to submit the required fee arbitration application.

• Alexis Michelle Rabbani, Aventura, suspended for three years, effective immediately, following a Feb. 20 court order. After receiving notice from The Florida Bar, Rabbani failed to appear at a final disciplinary hearing. She had cases pending for failure to provide competent representation to clients after being retained. In several instances, Rabbani failed to communicate with clients and The Florida Bar.

• Charles Erickson Rutherford, Boca Raton, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter. Instead of holding client funds in trust, Rutherford deposited them into his operating account to reimburse the law firm for filing and related fees on numerous foreclosure actions.

• Ankur R. Sevak, Fort Lauderdale. The court granted Sevak a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years. Disciplinary revocation is equivalent to disbarment. Sevak entered into a plea agreement in circuit court to possession of methamphetamine and butanediol as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. Both possession charges are felonies and the paraphernalia charge is a misdemeanor.

• Michael J. Silver, Boca Raton, suspended for one year. Further, Silver shall enter into binding fee arbitration with a former client. Silver charged an excessive fee to the client of $275,000 for approximately six weeks of work and upon termination, refused to refund any portion of the fee.

• Paul Bradford Woods, Miami, suspended for one year, effective immediately. Woods was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of June 25, 2014, suspension order. Specifically, Woods was ordered to notify his clients, opposing counsel and the courts of his status and provide a sworn affidavit to the Bar listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of his suspension order.

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