Saturday, February 25, 2017

Florida Supremes Give Three More Attorneys The Bar Boot While Indefinitely Suspending Another Over Issues Related To Mishandling Client Cash, Related Trust Account Records

The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, recently announced that the Florida Supreme Court has disciplined 13 attorneys. – effectively giving six (6) lawyers the boot (five by disbarment & one disciplinary revocation), suspending five (5) others, and giving two more a public slap on the hand (via a public reprimand).

Of the 13, the following four (4) have either been booted or indefinitely suspended amidst allegations of playing fast and loose with their clients' cash(1) and/or the related trust account records:
  • Alan LeBou Carner, Fort Lauderdale, to receive a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years, effective immediately, following a Jan. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Carner involved misappropriation of client funds. (Case No. SC16-1928);

    Richard Michael Colbert, Gulf Breeze, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Dec. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1987) Colbert pleaded guilty in federal court to 13 felony counts, including charges of theft, embezzlement or misapplication of funds entrusted to a financial institution [ie. while acting as an escrow agent]; money laundering, conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud and making false statements to a federal financial institution. He is scheduled to be sentenced by the federal court in March. (Case No. SC16-2231);

    James Franklin Lowy, Clearwater, disbarred retroactive to October 15, 2015, following a Jan. 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) A Bar audit found that Lowy did not maintain the required trust account records, including a cash receipts and disbursements journal, monthly bank reconciliations and individual client ledger cards. Lowy received settlement payments on behalf of clients who were victims of an investment fraud scheme but he paid incorrect amounts to clients, overpaid himself, and failed to maintain a sufficient balance in the trust account to cover payments. Lowy also commingled funds. (Case No. SC15-1741);

    Garry Lee Potts, Clearwater, disbarred effective immediately, following a December 22, 2016, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Potts represented a client in a personal injury matter. When the case settled, Potts kept an attorney’s fee of $8,333 and disbursed $8,523 to the client. Thereafter, the client made multiple attempts to contact Potts regarding his remaining balance of $7,794, but Potts did not respond. Potts also failed to respond to The Florida Bar’s inquiries, nor did he respond to a Bar subpoena to produce financial records. (Case No. SC16-838).
Source: Supreme Court Disciplines 13 Attorneys (Summaries of orders issued Nov 23, 2016 – Jan. 5, 2017).

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.
(1) The Clients' Security Fund was created by The Florida Bar to help (at least partially) compensate persons who have suffered a loss of money or property due to misappropriation or embezzlement by a Florida-licensed attorney.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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