Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Florida Supremes Suspend Bar Tickets For Five Attorneys For Playing Fast & Loose w/ Clients' Cash, Among Other Things

The Florida Bar recently announced that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 15 attorneys – permanently disbarring one attorney, suspending 11 attorneys and publicly reprimanding three.

Of the 15 lawyers disciplined, the following five attorneys were tagged for, among other things, playing fast & loose with clients' funds held in trust:
  1. Gordon Fenderson, Jacksonville, suspended for 45 days, effective 30 days from an Oct. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Complaints against Fenderson’s law partner caused the Bar to audit the firm’s trust account. The audit uncovered technical trust account violations and negligent bookkeeping. The Bar also learned that Fenderson and his law partner were the owners of a loan modification/foreclosure rescue business called American Attorney Advocates. Further investigation revealed that Fenderson’s business model was not in compliance with Bar rules. (Case No. SC15-1220);
    .
  2. Daniel R. Gerleman, Fort Myers, suspended for 60 days, effective 30 days from an Oct. 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) An audit revealed that Gerleman was not properly maintaining the trust account records; he became ineligible to practice law for failing to pay a fee arbitration award and appeared in court twice. Gerleman was also unable to produce retainer agreements or other written communication for three clients who requested refunds. With limited and inconsistent staff assistance, he had difficulty managing as a sole practitioner when he had health issues. (Case No. SC14-1819);
    .
  3. William Todd Long, Winter Park, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Sept. 29 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1989) ) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Long appeared to be causing great public harm. A Florida Bar investigation found that Long misappropriated funds from his trust account. He used the trust funds to which he was not entitled for business expenses and for his personal benefit. (Case No. SC15-1739);
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  4. James Franklin Lowy, Clearwater, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Sept. 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Lowy appeared to be causing great public harm based on trust account shortages in excess of $60,000 evidenced by a Florida Bar auditor. (Case No. SC15-1741);
    .
  5. William Reid Penuel, Atlantic Beach, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from an Oct. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Penuel appeared to be causing great public harm. Penuel, who admits he has a drug addiction, converted trustee funds. He has agreed to removal from the practice of law in order to begin intensive in-patient treatment. (Case No. SC15-1634).
For the entire gossip/scandal sheet, see Supreme Court Disciplines 15 Attorneys (Summaries of orders issued Sept. 16 – Oct. 9, 2015).

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