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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 9, 201612:00 PM EST

Jacksonville attorney to be reprimanded and placed on probation; 23 other Florida lawyers disciplined

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The Florida Supreme Court disciplined 24 attorneys — disbarring four, revoking the licenses of four, suspending nine and publicly reprimanding seven. Five attorneys also were placed on probation.

One is from Jacksonville:

David Andrew Taylor III, 233 E. Bay St., Suite 1020, Jacksonville, to be publicly reprimanded by publication and placed on probation. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Taylor approached and engaged in conversation about a case with opposing counsel’s client in the absence of the attorney. He also allowed his assistant to meet with inmates at the St. Johns County Jail and provide Taylor’s promotional information. Some had contacted Taylor first, others had not. Taylor’s staff members also mailed promotional materials to a correctional facility to inmates who had not previously established contact with his office.

The others are:

• James William Batton, Panama City, suspended until further order. (Admitted to practice: 2012) Batton pleaded no contest to a felony in Bay County Circuit Court. In February 2015, Batton notified The Florida Bar he had been charged with failure to register as a sex offender, when he neglected to register his social media Facebook page with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

• Jose Manuel Camacho Jr., Miami, suspended until further order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Camacho was found in contempt for non-compliance. He failed to comply with a trust accounting records subpoena of July 7 and he failed to respond to an official Bar inquiry dated Sept. 2.

• Richard Brian Carey, West Palm Beach, to be publicly reprimanded by publication. (Admitted to practice: 2009) After being retained, Carey failed to adequately represent a client in a case to negotiate a settlement of a lien with a mortgage company. Complainant subsequently resolved the lien.

• Matthew Brennan Cleary III, Labelle, disbarred effective immediately. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Cleary was found in contempt for violating the terms of a June 10 emergency suspension order. Cleary failed 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 continued to practice law while suspended.

• Ronald David Combs, Gainesville, suspended for three years. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Combs was charged with burglary of an unoccupied structure and entered into a 36-month pre-trial intervention agreement.

• Bradley A. Conway, Orlando, to be publicly reprimanded and placed on probation for three years. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Conway failed to comply with his professional tax obligation to the Internal Revenue Service, including failing to file and remit funds he withheld from his employees’ wages for unemployment, Social Security, Medicare and income taxes. Conway informed the Bar his law practice had not been profitable.

• David R. Damore, Daytona Beach, suspended for 60 days. Damore represented a criminal defendant on felony charges. In lieu of payment of legal fees, the client executed a quit claim deed in favor of the attorney from jail. Damore directed his non-lawyer employee to notarize the deed despite the fact she didn’t see the client execute the document. It became an issue six months later, after Damore negotiated a favorable plea agreement for the client with the prosecutor.

• Robert William Darnell, Sarasota, to be publicly reprimanded by the Bar’s Board of Governors. (Admitted to practice: 1986) Darnell had practiced law with three other attorneys and each maintained an operating and trust account. When the company dissolved, it was discovered Darnell had failed to deposit his overhead checks into the operating account and owed 10 months of overhead payments. A Bar audit found Darnell failed to withdraw his earned fees from the trust account. He also made payments for firm and personal expenses directly from his trust account. Darnell had to amend several federal tax returns.

• Mirta Desir, West Palm Beach, suspended until further order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Desir was found in contempt for non-compliance and failure to respond to official Bar inquiries regarding a complaint. Letters were sent by the Bar via certified U.S. mail and email. Calls were also left on Desir’s voice mail.

• Wayne K. Ekren, Port Richey. The Supreme Court granted Ekren’s request for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Ekren was an allegation that he received $1,000 to represent a client while suspended and never refunded the money.

• Santiago Eljaiek III, Coconut Grove, to be publicly reprimanded and directed to attend ethics school. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Eljaiek represented a couple in various real estate transactions. In 2009, he notarized a warranty deed given to him by the husband and affixed with both signatures. Three years later, the couple filed for divorce. The wife filed a complaint against Eljaiek, alleging during the course of the dissolution of marriage action, she discovered her husband had transferred ownership of their condo without her knowledge.

• Linda Dawn Hadad, Daytona Beach, disbarred. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Hadad engaged in a pattern of misconduct that included illegal drug use and sexual relationships with clients. She had inappropriate intimate relationships with inmates at the Volusia County jail while she represented them and engaged in inappropriate phone calls, which were routinely recorded by the jail. Hadad also failed to timely appear for court hearings, neglected the criminal cases of several clients, closed her office without informing her clients and failed to respond to Bar inquiries regarding these matters.

• Oscar Antonio Hotusing, Melbourne, to be publicly reprimanded by the Bar’s Board of Governors. (Admitted to practice: 1993) During his campaign for judicial office in 2014, Hotusing engaged in several acts of misconduct. In the Bar’s Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statement, Hotusing failed to completely and accurately state discipline imposed on him for rule violations. He also failed to list all of his prior employers and occupations for the last 10 years. In a radio interview, Hotusing made remarks that violated Canon 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

• Charles Francis McKinnon, Homestead. The Supreme Court granted McKinnon’s request for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against McKinnon involved allegations of misappropriation and mishandling of client trust funds; failure to comply with a grievance committee subpoena; and neglect of client matters.

• Austin Scott O’Toole, Boston, suspended for 90 days. (Admitted to practice: 1991) O’Toole learned a client was in violation of an injunction and ignored the situation. A complaint was subsequently filed against O’Toole for contempt for failure to pay plaintiffs the funds he had received from his client. O’Toole also failed to disclose a conflict of interest between him and his client and failed to explain them to his client.

• David Frank Petrano, Hawthorne, disbarred. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Petrano was found in contempt for violating the terms of a Nov. 12, 2013 court order, placing him on indefinite probation and ordering him to undergo an evaluation to determine his fitness to practice law. He displayed a pattern of filing frivolous lawsuits not grounded in fact and routinely disparaged litigants and judges.

• Neil Wayne Platock, Port St. Lucie, suspended until further order. (Admitted to practice: 1985) Platock was found in contempt for failure to respond to an official Bar inquiry. A letter was delivered by certified U.S. mail to Platock and signed for, but never acknowledged.

• Gary Craig Richards, Gainesville, disbarred. (Admitted to practice: 1974) Richards was convicted by a jury of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He also was found guilty of battery, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is incarcerated in a Florida Department of Corrections facility.

• Gilberto E. Sanchez, Tampa, suspended for 18 months. Upon reinstatement, Sanchez shall be placed on probation for two years. (Admitted to practice: 2004) A Bar audit revealed Sanchez negligently handled his trust account and failed to maintain proper trust account records, which resulted in shortages on several occasions over a 21/2-year period. Sanchez also commingled funds by improperly using money in his trust account to pay for firm expenses. He also failed to hold funds in his trust account entrusted to him for a specific purpose.

• Scott F. Sawtelle, Orange City, suspended for 91 days. Upon reinstatement, Sawtelle shall be placed on probation for three years and sign a rehabilitation contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance. (Admitted to practice: 2002) In several instances, Sawtelle failed to diligently represent clients after being retained. In January 2015, Sawtelle was arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, but failed to timely respond to the Bar’s inquiry regarding the matter. In March 2015, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor drug possession and a related felony drug violation.

• Catherine Elizabeth Timilty, Pinellas Park. The Supreme Court granted Timilty’s request for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Timilty involved allegations of trust account problems and failure to communicate with a client.

• Nikasha Michelle Wells, Mableton, Ga.  The Supreme Court granted Wells’ request for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Wells involved allegations of trust account issues and failure to respond to Bar disciplinary inquiries.

• George John Francis Werner, Tampa, to be publicly reprimanded by publication in the Southern Reporter and placed on probation for one year. (Admitted to practice: 1984) In 2013, Werner failed to timely notify the Bar he was found guilty of DUI and ordered to complete community service. In February 2014, it was determined Werner demonstrated behaviors that meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, based on an interview and testing positive in an announced urinalysis screen. The evaluator recommended a monitoring contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance as well as an intensive outpatient treatment program.

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