Sunday, April 17, 2016

Florida Supremes Discipline Seven Attorneys In Connection w/ Improper Conduct Regarding Their Clients' Cash

The recent edition of the monthly gossip sheet from The Florida Bar is now out, in which the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announced that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 24 attorneys – disbarring seven, revoking the licenses of two, suspending nine and publicly reprimanding six. Three attorneys were also placed on probation, and one attorney was ordered to pay restitution.

Of those disciplined, the following eight attorneys were disciplined in connection with, among other things in some cases, some form of improper conduct in connection with their clients' money:
  • David Joseph Berger, North Miami Beach, disbarred effective immediately, following a Jan. 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Berger misappropriated client trust funds and abandoned his law practice and clients. He also failed to comply with a subpoena to produce trust account records. (Case No. SC15-1197)

    Sholom Boyer, North Miami Beach, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Jan. 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Boyer was found in contempt for non-compliance with a Bar subpoena served on him on Sept. 4, 2015. Boyer was commanded to appear before a grievance committee on Sept. 21, 2015, with trust accounting records and other documents. Boyer did not appear, he did not provide records, and he did not provide an explanation for his failure to comply. (Case No. SC15-1971)

    Charles Jeffrey Broida, Columbia, Md., disbarred effective immediately, following a Jan. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Broida was also a member of the Maryland Bar Association. This is a reciprocal discipline action. A Bar investigation indicated that Broida misappropriated funds from an estate and fabricated account statements to conceal the misappropriation in Maryland. (Case No. SC15-1596)

    Heather Sarah Case, Naples. The Supreme Court granted Case’s request for a disciplinary revocation, effective 30 days from a Jan. 21 court order, with leave to seek readmission after five years. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Case included allegations that she received funds owed to clients but failed to deliver the funds and the files. (Case No. SC15-1920)

    Francisco D. Coll, Clearwater, suspended until further order, following a Jan. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Coll appears to be causing great public harm. A Bar investigation revealed that Coll has misappropriated at least $276,726 of client funds from his trust accounts. (Case No. SC15-2342)

    Peter U. Mayas, Plantation, disbarred effective 30 days from a Jan. 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Mayas knowingly engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in federal court, falsely represented that he was permitted to practice in federal court, improperly took fees which also were excessive, and abandoned the case. Mayas provided testimony that was untruthful or evasive in related contempt proceedings resulting from his failure to comply with the court’s order to return the fees. In a second, unrelated matter, Mayas represented a client on criminal charges in state court but failed to appear for several hearings resulting in the court issuing an order to show cause. His response to the Bar’s inquiry was untruthful and inaccurate. (Case No. SC14-2147)

    Joseph E. Parrish, Brandon, to be publicly reprimanded and placed on probation, following a Jan. 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Parrish’s non-lawyer employee embezzled more than $100,000, including funds from his trust account. In addition, the paralegal caused an insurance company to pay $100,000 for a settlement, while Parrish and the client agreed to a settlement of $30,000. The paralegal embezzled the difference. (Case No. SC15-2305)

    Alex Jay Pearlberg, Sunrise, disbarred effective immediately, following a Jan. 28 court order. Further, Pearlberg shall pay restitution of $12,700 to clients in three separate matters. (Admitted to practice: 1992) After receiving a settlement of $11,000 on behalf of one client, Pearlberg misappropriated the funds from his trust account. He also received $1,000 to represent a man in a civil matter but took no action on the case and failed to respond to the Bar’s inquiry regarding the matter. Another client paid Pearlberg $700 to represent her in a dispute with her condo association. After sending the initial letter to the association, Pearlberg took no other action to further the case, and he failed to answer the client’s communications. Pearlberg failed to diligently represent another client and he was criminally charged for writing worthless checks in a separate case. Pearlberg failed to respond to the Bar’s inquiries regarding the matters. (Case No. SC15-1743)

Editor's Note: Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps. Additional information on the discipline system and how to file a complaint are available at www.floridabar.org/attorneydiscipline.

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