The Florida Bar, recently announced that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disbarred four attorneys, suspended 10, placed three on probation, reprimanded two and ordered two to pay restitution.
None of the attorneys are from the Jacksonville or Northeast Florida area.
Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. The following lawyers are disciplined:
• Maldrick Elaine Bright, P.O. Box 841181, Pearland, Tex., disbarred, effective immediately, and ordered to pay $16,062 restitution pursuant to an April 26 court order. Bright, who was the subject of an emergency suspension at the time of the violations, among other things misappropriated trust funds, made misrepresentations to clients, failed to protect clients’ interests, had a conflict of interest in the representation of clients and practiced law without a license.
• Valerie Theresa Simuro, 12 Bay Ridge Pl., Brooklyn, N.Y., disbarred, effective immediately, pursuant to an April 26 court order. In June 2005, Simuro pled guilty in the Superior Court of the State of New York to two counts of grand larceny in the second degree in connection with her conversion to personal use of more than $2 million in trust funds from at least eight clients.
• David Russell Stahl, 1100 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, disbarred for 10 years and, thereafter, until his civil rights are restored, effective retroactively to Jan. 12, 2005, pursuant to an April 30 court order. In June 2004, Stahl was adjudicated guilty of committing a lewd and lascivious act upon a child, a second-degree felony, and was sentenced to six years in prison, followed by nine years probation.
• Jerry Velazquez, 900 W. 49th St., Suite 430, Hialeah, disbarred, effective immediately, pursuant to an April 12 court order. Velazquez misrepresented to a client that he was holding funds from the sale of property in trust and failed to maintain any records related to the trust.
• Nathaniel Bundy Burke, 757 S.E. Monteray Road, No. 3, Stuart, suspended for three years, effective immediately, pursuant to an April 19 court order. In May 2006, Burke failed to appear in court on behalf of several criminal defendants due to incapacitation. He subsequently pled guilty to felony possession of cocaine, discharging a firearm in public and driving under the influence. Adjudication was withheld on the felony charge and he was required by the court to undergo rehabilitation in a residential treatment center and to comply with a daily curfew.
• Robert John Connelly, 5340 Holiday Terr., Kalamazoo, Mich., suspended for one year effective 30 days from an April 26 court order. Connelly was suspended from the practice of law in Michigan for numerous acts of misconduct involving 12 clients.
• Joyce Sibson Dove, P.O. Box 10426, Tallahassee, suspended, effective 30 days after an April 27 court order. Dove proceeded with a termination of parental rights and adoption although she knew that the adoptee’s maternal grandparents were asserting a claim for priority in placement because she had lived with them for six months. She failed to notify her clients, the adoptive parents, of this claim and lied in court documents that she did not know the identity of the birth father. Dove’s actions resulted in litigation on the part of the birth mother and maternal grandparents to return the adoptee. In a subsequent settlement agreement, the adoptive parents were forced to agree to an open adoption, which means, the order states, that “instead of being a family, they will always be a substitute family. It is impossible to measure the difference between the open adoption achieved and the closed adoption sought. The non-clients’, birth mother’s, birth father’s and grandparents’ rights were also materially impacted.”
• R. Matthew Gentile, 3155 Jackson Ave., Coconut Grove, suspended for three years retroactive to March 1, 2006 pursuant to an April 26 court order. Gentile failed to comply with trust account record-keeping requirements and negligently allowed a non-attorney business partner to manage the business and finances of a title company escrow account.
• Bruce M. Harlan, 326 N. Belcher Road, Clearwater, placed on probation for one year, effective immediately, and publicly reprimanded pursuant to an April 26 court order. Harlan failed to hold in trust separately from his own property the funds and property of clients or others and failed to adequately maintain trust fund records.
• Joseph Thomas Lander, P.O. Box 2007, Cross City, publicly reprimanded by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar and directed to complete The Florida Bar’s Ethics School within one year of the date of an April 12 order. Lander represented a client in a divorce action and in the course of that representation signed a lease-purchase agreement with her husband to purchase a boat jointly owned by his client and her husband. He did not inform his client of the agreement. Lander failed to explain a matter to a client, acquired an interest adverse to a client and communicated with a person represented by counsel.
• Jerona Charmaine Maiyo, 37 N. Orange Ave., Suite 500, Orlando, suspended for 30 days effective 30 days from an April 12 court order and, upon reinstatement, placed on probation for three years. Maiyo also was ordered to contact Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. and to “participate actively” in the program. Maiyo failed to keep a client reasonably informed; failed to take steps reasonably practical to protect a client’s interests upon termination of representation; shared legal fees with a nonlawyer; committed numerous trust fund violations, including using trust funds for purposes other than those for which they were entrusted; failed to file advertisements as required by Bar rule; practiced law while administratively suspended for failure to satisfy continuing legal education or basic skills course requirements; and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
• Peter Wayne Margolin, 225 N.E. Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton, suspended for one year effective 30 days from an April 5 court order. Margolin violated the Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct by repeatedly failing to submit promised billing statements to a client and, subsequently, to the Bar and failed to respond to an official inquiry by Bar counsel.
• Benjamin Robert Metsch, 20801 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 307, Aventura, suspended effective 30 days from an April 19 court order. In March, Metsch pled guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
• Cornelius Shiver, Jr., P.O. Box 331542, Miami, suspended for three years beginning June 8, when he will complete his current 18-month suspension, pursuant to an April 10 court order. Shiver lied to Bar investigators and continued to practice law while under suspension, and willfully avoided paying outstanding costs associated with his earlier suspension.
• Marvin Deon Wilson, Sr., 17033 S. Dixie Highway, Suite C, Perrine, suspended for two years beginning 30 days from an April 12 court order. Wilson billed a group legal insurance company at least $147,000 for numerous legal services that were either not covered under the plan, not performed or were for individuals that were not plan members.
• Sheldon Lee Zipkin, 2020 N.E. 163rd St., 3rd Floor, North Miami Beach, suspended for 10 days effective 30 days from an April 19 court order. Zipkin failed to notify clients in writing that he no longer wished to represent them.
• Gregory Ernest Monaldi, 200 S.E. 9th St., Ft. Lauderdale, reprimanded and ordered to pay restitution of $9,000 to a client pursuant to an April 5 court order. Monaldi failed to protect settlement funds provided by a treating physician on behalf of a client and collected an excessive legal fee.
As an official agency of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the 80,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida.