Saturday, July 23, 2016

Florida Supremes Suspend Or Boot Seven Lawyers For Playing Fast & Loose With Their Clients' Cash

The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, has published the latest issue of its periodic gossip sheet, announcing that the Florida Supreme Court has recently disciplined 16 attorneys – disbarring five, revoking the licenses of two, suspending eight and publicly reprimanding one. Four attorneys received more than one form of discipline. One attorney was ordered to pay restitution; three attorneys were also placed on probation.

Of those 16 lawyers, the following seven have been disciplined for playing fast and loose with their clients' money, including one who pocketed upfront fees for loan modifications and foreclosure defense in Missouri, where he is not licensed to practice law:
  • Angela Morton Armstrong, Palm Harbor, disbarred effective immediately, following an April 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Armstrong was not diligent in the performance of services for which she had been retained. She accepted fees and failed to keep clients reasonably informed about the status of their cases. In numerous instances, there were no records showing that Armstrong filed bankruptcy cases on behalf of clients. (Case Nos. SC15-1407 & SC15-1418)

    Keirsten Klatch, Jacksonville, suspended until further order, effective immediately, following a May 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Klatch was found in contempt for failing to respond in writing to a Bar subpoena for records and an inquiry regarding the whereabouts of a client’s funds. (Case No. SC16-567)

    William Todd Long, Winter Park, disbarred, effective immediately, following a May 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1989) Long pervasively misappropriated client trust funds, to which he was not entitled, for business expenses and for his personal benefit. He failed to respond to the Bar’s nine letters and six subpoenas requiring production of his trust account records; he misrepresented himself as a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, when in fact he was not; and he improperly charged personal injury clients an administrative fee of $100 to $200. Long also failed to comply with the emergency suspension order issued by the Supreme Court of Florida that required notification of his suspension to all clients, opposing counsel, and courts to which he was counsel of record. (Case No. SC15-1739)

    Eric Andrew Mader, Tampa, suspended for three years, effective retroactive to June 18, 2014, following a May 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Mader is further placed on probation for three years. Mader improperly handled a case involving the collection of a commercial debt. Additionally, Mader is not licensed in Missouri, but engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, beginning in 2012, representing Missourians in loan modification and foreclosure defense cases. He charged and received advance payment prior to fully performing all services. (Case No. SC15-2000)

    Robert Andrew Mogle, Davie, disbarred effective immediately, following an April 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Mogle accepted money to represent several clients but took no significant action on the cases. He also abandoned his law practice without giving notice to clients or The Florida Bar. (Case No. SC15-1664)

    William Reid Penuel, Atlantic Beach, disbarred effective immediately, following an April 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Further, Penuel shall pay restitution of $147,495. Penuel withdrew funds from an estate account without authorization. He provided no accounting of the missing funds nor has he returned the funds to the estate account. Penuel failed to appear before the bankruptcy court as ordered and was held in contempt. (Case No. SC15-1634)

    David Land Whigham, Tampa. The Supreme Court granted Whigham’s request for a permanent disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission, effective immediately, following a May 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Whigham had previously been placed under emergency suspension for misappropriating more than $899,000.00. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Whigham involved trust accounts. (Case No. SC16-428)
Source: Supreme Court Disciplines 16 Attorneys.

Note: 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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