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 17 attorneys, disbarring six and suspending 10. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline.
One attorney was publicly reprimanded, three attorneys were placed on probation and two attorneys were ordered to pay restitution.
As an official arm 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 90,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida.
Since Aug. 1, 2007, case files have been posted to attorneys' individual Florida Bar profiles and may be reviewed at and/or downloaded from The Florida Bar's website, www.floridabar.org.
Court orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline.
Disbarred lawyers may not re-apply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that rejects many who apply. It includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam. Historically, fewer than 5 percent of disbarred lawyers seek readmission.
• Raymond R. Beitra, 900 W. 49th St., Suite 424, Hialeah, suspended for six months, effective Jan. 17, 2012, following a Nov. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Beitra improperly shared fees and legal services with a nonlawyer entity. He also exhibited a lack of diligence and competence, failed to adequately communicate with clients and sometimes charged retainer fees for work he initially labeled as pro bono. (Case No. SC11-1018)
• Michelle Erin Berthiaume, 2551 Fourth St., Fort Myers, suspended for 91 days, following a Nov. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Berthiaume knowingly served a fraudulent subpoena on a bank. She deceptively designed the document to obtain a client's bank records and threatened the bank with contempt of court, fine and incarceration if the records weren't produced. (Case No. SC08-1786)
• Elizabeth Blanco, 13318 S.W. 128th St., Miami, publicly reprimanded and further, placed on probation following a Nov. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) A relative of Blanco created an irrevocable trust, whereby Blanco's husband was appointed as trustee, and her relative was the sole beneficiary. Blanco's relative subsequently withdrew a portion of the funds and asked Blanco to hold the remaining funds in trust. Blanco placed the additional funds into her law firm's trust account, rather than a separate account. She admitted that she failed to reconcile her trust account monthly and that she had unintentionally made disbursements from the beneficiary's trust funds that exceeded the available amounts on multiple occasions. (Case No. SC11-2111)
• David Allen Buck, 8064 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 16 court order. Further, upon reinstatement, Buck is placed on probation for two years. (Admitted to practice: 1996) He is further directed to complete ethics school. Buck failed to properly supervise and define roles for an employee, assigning the non-lawyer to tasks of a lawyer without supervision. He also improperly borrowed money from a client, failed to adequately communicate with a trustee successor, and failed to maintain trust accounting records and procedures. (Case No. SC11-696)
• Henry B. J. Carpenter, P.O. Box 691898, Orlando, suspended for 10 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1982) Carpenter is further directed to complete ethics school. Carpenter repeatedly failed to respond to official Bar inquiries and failed to show good cause for non-compliance. He was found guilty of professional misconduct toward clients involving competence, diligence, communication, and commingling of trust accounts. (Case Nos. SC11-175 & SC11-1441)
• David Mark Couillard, 1713 54th St. S.W., Naples, suspended for 30 days, retroactive to Nov. 8, following a Nov. 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Couillard is further directed to complete ethics school and a professionalism workshop. The court disqualified Couillard from continuing the representation of a company. After disqualification, he continued to provide legal advice and counsel to the company, including assisting with the drafting and editing of documents to be filed with the court. (Case No. SC10-871)
• Katherine Denise Crase, 2804 W. Aquilla St., Tampa, disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Crase was found guilty in U.S. district court of seven felony counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud. She was sentenced to 30 months in prison. (Case NO. SC09-339)
• William N. DeVane Jr., P.O. Box 500177, Marathon, disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1975) DeVane drafted a last will and testament for a client and as per her instructions, he was designated as a personal representative of her estate. Before her death, she delivered her dog to DeVane's wife and DeVane negotiated a one-time payment to his wife of more than $63,000 for the dog's expenses. DeVane also received some personal items and property from the decedent's residence. After the client's death, DeVane accepted a $200,000 bequest. (Case No. SC11-2105)
• Rosalyn Dunlap, P.O. Box 616705, Orlando, suspended until further order, following a Nov. 29 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Dunlap appeared to be causing great public harm by intentionally misappropriating $49,000 from her trust account. Dunlap used the money to pay personal expenses. (Case No. SC11-2184)
• George Michael Evans, 770 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Suite 301, Coral Gables, permanently disbarred following a Dec. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Evans was the subject of several Florida Bar disciplinary matters involving client trust funds. (Case Nos. SC11-91 & SC11-485)
• William Lance Gerlin, 2709 Killarney Way, Suite 4, Tallahassee, disbarred effective immediately, following a Nov. 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Further, Gerlin shall pay restitution totaling more than $17,500 to two clients. (Admitted to practice: 1973) In at least three separate instances, Gerlin was retained to represent clients and he failed to communicate and failed to provide adequate representation. (Case Nos. SC09-2172, SC10-869 & SC10-1058)
• John Kevin Griffin, 1020 S. 15th St., Fort Pierce, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) After being retained to represent a client in a pending civil suit, Griffin filed to provide competent representation. The client subsequently terminated Griffin and hired new counsel. (Case No. SC11-1264)
• Bruce M. Harlan, 326 N. Belcher Road, Clearwater, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1972) During the course of representing a client in a real estate deal, Harlan knowingly revealed information that should not have been disclosed and he represented conflicting interests. (Case No. SC11-1002)
• Daniel Nathan Hoskins, 1154 Adair Park Place, Orlando, suspended for 18 months, effective 30 days from a Nov. 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Further, Hoskins shall pay restitution of more than $11,000 to five separate clients. After being retained by clients, Hoskins failed to adequately handle foreclosure and bankruptcy matters. He often failed to communicate with clients or timely respond to inquiries from the Bar and the court. (Case No. SC11-1266)
• Frank J. Ingrassia, 8931 Wiles Road, Coral Springs, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following an Oct. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Ingrassia failed to respond to a petition for contempt alleging he continued to practice law despite his disbarment in October 2010. (Case No. SC11-1479)
• Cecilia Carolina Maluje, 7850 N.W. 146th St., Suite 416, Miami Lakes, suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Upon reinstatement, Maluje is placed on probation for one year and directed to attend ethics school. In two separate cases, Maluje failed to adequately represent clients. In one instance, she testified falsely before the grievance committee. (Case No. SC11-2091)
• Stanley E. Marable, 677 N. Washington Blvd., Suite 2, Sarasota, permanently disbarred effective immediately, following an Oct. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Marable was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of his May disbarment order. He was required to notify clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his disbarment and provide the Bar with a sworn affidavit listing the names of all persons and entities that received the notice. (Case No. SC11-1541)
By The Florida Bar News
Source: Jacksonville Daily Record