Sunday, June 11, 2017

Florida Supremes Stay Busy Disciplining Sticky-Fingered Lawyers, Suspending Three & Booting Two Others For Allegedly Glomming Hundred$ Of Thousand$ Of Unwitting Victims' Cash

The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announced that the Florida Supreme Court recently disciplined 21 attorneys – disbarring two, revoking the licenses of five, suspending 11, and publicly reprimanding three. Four attorneys received more than one form of discipline; one was placed on probation and three were ordered to pay restitution.

Of those disciplined:
  • one of the following lawyers was accused of pocketing thousands in legal fees while providing no meaningful services,
  • three others were accused of using client trust accounts as their personal piggy banks, each allegedly fleecing at least $200,000 of their clients' cash, and
  • one was accused of attempting to rip off $100,000 from a non-client home seller in a real estate transaction in which he was a party as a buyer.
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  • Christopher Lee Buttermore, 8202 Wiles Road, No. 53, Coral Springs, suspended for six months, effective immediately, following a March 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Further, Buttermore shall pay restitution of $16,169.80 to one client. In that case, Buttermore accepted more than $15,000 in legal fees but provided no meaningful services. He subsequently abandoned the case and provided no documentation to the Bar that any legal work was undertaken on the client’s behalf. In another matter, Buttermore made misrepresentations in sworn testimony regarding legal services he provided to a client and the amount of money he was paid. He continued to accept money from the client without doing any work on her case. He also failed to respond to the Bar regarding the matter. (Case No. SC16-2022)

    James M. Corrigan, 700 S. Palafox St., Suite 220, Pensacola, suspended until further order, following an April 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Corrigan appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client trust funds. (ie. accused of having a $282,000+ shortage in his client trust account, and using incoming client trust money to cover earlier shortages, 'Ponzi' style)  (Case No. SC17-594)

    Henry C. Hunter, 215 E. Virginia St., Tallahassee, to receive a disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission, effective 30 days from an April 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1976) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Hunter involved the misappropriation of funds from his trust account in the amount of more than $350,000. (Case No. SC16-2222)

    Peter William Martin, 4705 26th St. W., Bradenton, to receive a disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission, effective 30 days from an April 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Martin involved the misappropriation of funds from his trust account in the amount of at least $200,000. (Case No. SC17-145)

    Michael Kevin Rathel, 545 Delaney Ave., Suite 4, Orlando, suspended for one year, effective 30 days from a March 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Rathel bought a house after persuading the seller to hold a second mortgage for $100,000 needed by Rathel to pay the purchase price. Rathel promised to repay the seller and pledged his current home as security for the mortgage. Rathel sold his current home without telling the seller or repaying the seller’s second mortgage. Commencing in or about 2010, Rathel failed to file and pay his personal federal and corporate tax returns in a timely manner. In another matter, Rathel failed to timely respond to an inquiry about a Bar complaint. (Case No. SC16-1024)
Source: Supreme Court Disciplines 21 Attorneys (Summaries of orders issued March 16 – April 20, 2017).

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.

For "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.  ripoff reimbursement

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