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March 1, 2024 Disciplinary Actions

March 1, 2024 Disciplinary Actions

March 1, 2024 Disciplinary Actions

March 1, 2024 Disciplinary Actions

Scales Books GavelThe Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined nine attorneys, disbarring two, revoking the license of four, suspending two, and reprimanding one.

Guillermo Jose Farinas, P.O. Box 773, Palm Beach, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a February 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979) The appellate court determined that Farinas filed a frivolous appeal and as a sanction awarded the attorney’s fees and costs to the opposing party. (Case No. SC2023-0774)

Marie Gerard Gaetane Hernandez, 5886 De Zavala Rd., Suite 102 #233, San Antonio, TX, disbarred effective March 25, 30 days following the February 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2012) This is a reciprocal discipline case from Texas. In May 2022, Hernandez was suspended for one year followed by a two-year probated suspension for neglect of clients’ matters in two cases and for failing to return unearned fees in those cases. Hernandez failed to participate in the Texas Bar disciplinary proceedings. During the suspension, a new case was filed against Hernandez. In that matter, Hernandez neglected a client’s legal matter and failed to respond to reasonable requests for information about the status of his case. Upon termination of her representation, Hernandez failed to return the unearned portion of the fee to the client. She again failed to participate in Texas Bar disciplinary proceedings and a Judgment of Disbarment was entered on April 20, 2023. Hernandez failed to report her suspension and disbarment in Texas and failed to participate in The Florida Bar’s disciplinary proceedings. (Case No. SC23-1001)

Curtis Barryl Lee, P.O. Box 93181, Lakeland, public reprimand and ordered to attend Ethics School effective immediately following a February 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) On or about March 3, 2023, a Senior District Judge for the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida, entered an order to show cause against Lee for failing to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b). The court entered an order stating that Lee failed to be reasonably diligent when making representations to the court that were not supported by the evidence in the record regarding a motion for a new trial. Lee was sanctioned by receiving a written admonishment posted on the website of the Middle District of Florida. (Case No. SC2024-0101)

Reginald Luster, 150 Busch Dr., #28264, Jacksonville, disbarred effective immediately following a February 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) Several complaints were received indicating Luster was practicing law while suspended. He was contacting insurance companies to settle claims for “clients.”  Luster’s bank records also indicated he was receiving settlement monies while suspended. (Case No. SC22-0459)

Joshua Theodore Mosley, P.O. Box 15366, St. Petersburg, suspended for 10 days effective immediately following a February 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2012) On October 3, 2022, Mosley pled nolo contendere to Reckless Driving (reduced from DUI First Offense). The court withheld adjudication and placed Mosley on probation for 364 days and fined him $1,551. Mosley successfully completed all conditions of his probation, which was terminated on March 31, 2023. On October 26, 2023, Mosley pled nolo contendere to Driving Under the Influence with Property Damage, a first-degree misdemeanor, Refusal to Submit to DUI Test After License Suspension, a first-degree misdemeanor, and Violation of Driver’s License Restrictions, a second-degree misdemeanor. Mosley was adjudicated guilty on the three counts, and the state dismissed the remaining counts. Mosley was sentenced to a total of 30 days in jail, with credit for time served in the rehabilitation program he completed and was placed on probation for 364 days with special conditions. (Case No. SC24-0094)

Jacqueline Ann O’Brien, 1221 W. 65th St., Unit 6609, Cleveland, OH, disciplinary revocation with leave to apply for readmission effective March 4, per the February 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) This is a reciprocal case based on O’Brien’s resignation in Ohio after a two-count complaint was filed against her. In count one, O’Brien was hired for a breach of an employment contract claim. She failed to pursue the client’s counterclaims and failed to respond to a motion summary judgment. Summary judgment was entered against her client. Count two also involved a breach of employment contract claim. A default and subsequent judgement was entered against the client after O’Brien failed to appear at the default hearing or notify the client of the default. O’Brien thereafter waived a finding of probable cause in the disciplinary matter and filed an application for retirement or resignation, which was accepted by the Supreme Court of Ohio. (Case No. SC2023-1767)

Michael Gary Stepakoff, 36181 E. Lake Rd #270, Palm Harbor, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective immediately following a February 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Stepakoff plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense for participating in the demonstration and entry into the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. On January 20, 2023, he was sentenced to probation for a term of 12 months and ordered to pay a fines and restitution. (Case No. SC23-1688)

Dennis Joseph Szafran, P.O. Box 340561, Tampa, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective 30 days following a February 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2015) The court granted Szafran’s uncontested petition for disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years. On or about October 16, 2023, Szafran abruptly closed his law firm, DJS Law Group. At the time of closure, Szafran had approximately 800 clients. The way he closed his firm resulted in him abandoning his practice and his clients. Szafran failed to take reasonable steps to communicate with his clients or take proper steps to ensure their interests were protected. After the closure of his firm and prior to filing the petition for disciplinary revocation, Szafran had over 60 pending disciplinary matters involving various allegations, including failure to communicate with clients, excessive fees, and failure to represent clients diligently and competently. (Case No. SC24-0124)

Jason Dale Volkman, 2320 S.W. 140th Ave., Ocala, permanent disciplinary revocation effective immediately following a February 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Volkman pled nolo contendere to one count of Sexual Battery on a Person 12-18 Years by a Person in Familial Custodial Authority, a first-degree felony, 20 counts of Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child, second-degree felonies, 20 counts of Possession of Child Pornography (10 or more Images), second-degree felonies, one count of Delivery of Opiates, a second-degree felony, two counts of Video Voyeurism, third-degree felonies, and one count of Contributing to the Delinquency or Dependency of a Minor, a first-degree misdemeanor. The court sentenced Volkman to 30 years in the Florida Department of Corrections followed by five years of sex offender probation in Count 1, 15 years in the Florida Department of Corrections in Counts 2-42, 5 years in the Florida Department of Corrections in Counts 43-44, and 364 days in the Marion County Jail in Count 45. The sentences are to run concurrently.  Petitioner was credited with 496 days of time served. He was further designated a Sexual Predator pursuant to Florida Statute 775.21. The court ordered that he shall have no victim contact, submit a DNA sample, pay a $100 fine, mandatory court costs, and $150 to the Office of the State Attorney for the cost of the prosecution. (Case No. SC23-1679)

The Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Division of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the more than 111,000 members of The Florida Bar. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps. Information on the discipline system and how to file a complaint are available at www.floridabar.org/attorneydiscipline.

Court orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline. Disbarred lawyers may not reapply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the Bar exam. Attorneys suspended for periods of 91 days and longer must undergo a rigorous process to regain their law licenses including proving rehabilitation. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.

Originally published at https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-news/march-1-2024-disciplinary-actions/

The post March 1, 2024 Disciplinary Actions first appeared on City News Miami.

Law - City News Miami originally published at Law - City News Miami