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Florida Bar Public ReprimandsAs an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for its members. The Florida Bar accepts complaints against attorneys, investigates those complaints and prosecutes attorneys who engage in unethical conduct. The public reprimand is a Supreme Court ordered form of public discipline that declares the conduct of the lawyer improper. Public reprimands are by publication, in some cases by appearance before the 52 member Florida Bar Board of Governors and are public record.
for Publication by Florida Law Weekly
March 2021Marc John Randazza, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-188, September 3, 2020, 2764 Lake Sahara Dr. Ste. 109., Las Vegas, NV 89117-3400. Admitted to practice law in Florida in March 25, 2003, this case resulted in a public reprimand followed by one year of probation. The court also ordered respondent to complete 30 hours of CLE's in Ethics. Respondent was general counsel for Excelsior Media Holdings (EMH), an explicit pornography company located in Las Vegas, NV. One of EMH's subsidiaries was and continues to be Liberty Media Group (Liberty). At the direction of EMH, respondent sued Magnat Limited, d/b/a Oron, Inc., (Oron), on behalf of Liberty over copyright infringement. The parties attempted to settle the dispute for $550,000, but EMH rejected the proposed settlement agreement. Oron's attorneys asked respondent how to keep from getting sued in cases similar to the current one, so respondent began negotiating a retainer agreement with Oron while he was in negotiations on behalf of Liberty against Oron. Respondent's contract with EMH did not prevent him from representing other businesses. Respondent did not notify EMH of the negotiations. Respondent then agreed to loan EMH $25,000 of his personal funds to pursue further litigation against Oron in Hong Kong. Respondent paid the sum to a Hong Kong law firm and successfully froze all of Oron's (Magnat Limited's) oversees assets. Respondent failed to advise EMH of its option to seek independent counsel prior to going into business with EMH.
Giancarlo Ricard, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-744, September 17, 2020, P.O. Box 600621, Saint Johns, FL 32260-0621. Admitted to practice law on April 14, 2016, respondent received a public reprimand. Respondent was retained as counsel by two separate clients and then determined he was unable to complete their civil matters. Respondent also failed to adequately communicate with the clients. Respondent merged his law practice with another law firm, which ultimately took over the representation of these cases. Respondent was practicing less than a year when he committed the misconduct, and he had no prior discipline.
Stafford Nicholas Shealy, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-498, April 16, 2020, 1438 Lantana Road, Suite 219, Lantana, FL 33462-1536. Respondent received a public reprimand and two years of probation after pleading guilty to a Driving Under the Influence charge on November 26, 2018. Respondent receiving 24 months of DUI probation and reported the DUI conviction to the Bar. Respondent was admitted to practice law on September 12, 2000.
February, 2021Aaron Matthew Cohen, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-2053, March 26, 2020, Delray Beach, FL. Respondent was held in contempt and publicly reprimanded for failing to timely respond to inquiries of the Bar. Cohen was admitted to practice law on February 22, 2002. Charles A. Esposito, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-415, April 2, 2020, Charles A. Esposito Law Office, Palm Coast, FL 32137-8404. Respondent represented a client in a criminal case and failed to confirm the nonrefundable fee in writing. Respondent filed a motion to withdraw as counsel and clarified some misrepresentations made by the client to the court revealing information relating to the representation. The client was not prejudiced. Esposito was admitted to practice law on December 24, 1992. Howard David Friedman, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1422, March 5, 2020, 2413 Tuscarora Trail, Maitland, FL 32751-4060. During Friedman's campaign for the office of State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida, he distributed campaign brochures and made statements that suggested, or specifically stated, that while Jeffrey Ashton was the State Attorney, he wrongfully fired respondent's wife after she got sick with cancer. Respondent omitted any reference to the passage of eleven years between Schultz's cancer diagnosis and her termination from employment at the Office of the State Attorney. Friedman was admitted to practice law on October 7, 1987. José G. Oliveira, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-209, March 5, 2020, Parti and Oliveira, PLLC, 1284 Seburn Road, Apopka, FL 32703-8468. Oliveira engaged in a conflict of interest and failed to provide proper communication to a client regarding a business agreement and foreclosure matter. Respondent received a public reprimand and was ordered to complete Ethics School. Oliveira was admitted to practice law on March 19, 2009.
January, 2021Henry George Ferro, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1251, January 16, 2020, 108 North Magnolia Avenue, Seventh Floor, Ocala, FL 34475-6604. Respondent shall receive a public reprimand and completion of The Florida Bar's Professionalism Workshop. Ferro was admitted to practice law on June 28, 1983. Ferro represented a client in filing a federal suit. By federal court order, dated August 10, 2017, Ferro received monetary sanctions for filing frivolous claims on behalf of the client. The court dismissed the complaint Ferro filed as an impermissible shotgun pleading, noting that the assertions were largely vague, conclusory, and sweeping accusations of conspiracy that failed to apprise the court of the basis of the claims against the numerous defendants. Ferro filed an amended complaint that the court also dismissed with prejudice against some defendants based on various immunities and dismissed the remaining state law claims without prejudice. Mark Henzler Welton, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-730, January 16, 2020, 1020 S Ferdon Blvd., Crestview, FL 32536-4510. Respondent shall receive a public reprimand and probation during which time Respondent shall attend Ethics School. Welton was admitted to practice law on April 19, 1994. Respondent engaged in a conflict of interest by representing both co-personal representatives in a probate case where the parties disagreed about the disposition and division of the estate assets. Gerald Brett Berg, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1390, February 13, 2020, Springfield, MA 01103-6104. Respondent shall receive a public reprimand by publication. Berg was admitted to practice law on November 17, 1977. Respondent represented both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction in which the seller provided the financing to the buyer. At closing, the buyer discovered that the terms of the loan substantially favored the seller. At this time, the Respondent acknowledged the conflict and requested that the buyer execute a waiver of conflict of interest which the buyer refused to do. The closing was suspended and the buyer sought a traditional loan and the transaction was subsequently completed. The buyer did not receive the diligent representation that she should have received through independent counsel.
November, 2020Danie Victor Alexandre, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-882, July 2, 2020, 3601 S.E. Ocean Boulevard, Ste. 003, Stuart, Florida 34996-6737. Respondent was issued a public reprimand and two years of probation, conditioned upon the completion of a Trust Accounting Workshop and the hiring of a certified public accountant to prepare and file compliant quarterly audit reports with The Florida Bar. Admitted to practice on May 1, 1991, Alexandre failed to maintain the minimum required trust accounting records and failed to follow the minimum required trust accounting procedures, resulting in a check being accidentally issued against the trust account when insufficient funds were present to honor the check. No client funds were threatened. Eduardo Enrique Dieppa III, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-883, July 2, 2020, 10689 N. Kendall Dr., Ste. 314, Miami, Florida 33176-1525. Respondent was publicly reprimanded effective immediately from a July 2 court order. Admitted to practice on October 4, 2004, Respondent represented father and son as plaintiffs in a civil action, where father was suffering from cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Respondent represented that father was available for deposition despite his cognitive impairment, where he had disclosed this fact as a basis for unavailability in an unrelated case. Respondent also conveyed that both clients had agreed to settlement terms without discussing it with the father. Joseph Anthony Source, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-881, July 2, 2020, 999 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Ste. 1020, Coral Gables, FL 33134-3063. Admitted to practice on November 18, 1994, Respondent was publicly reprimanded effective immediately after a July 2 court order. Respondent commingled personal funds in his trust account by failing to promptly disburse his fees and depositing the proceeds of the sale of his marital home into the trust account. Although respondent paid personal expenses from the trust account, he used personal funds to do so and there was no evidence of malfeasance and all client funds were properly accounted for and promptly remitted.
September, 2020Lawrence Paul Cartelli, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-702, May 28, 2020, Lawrence P. Cartelli, P.A., Tavares, FL 32778-1826. Respondent publicly reprimanded and required to complete Ethics School. Cartelli was admitted to practice on November 23, 2002. While representing a client in a divorce case, Cartelli discussed with the client and the client's girlfriend a dormant charity Cartelli created many years before for the stated purpose of assisting families in need. The client offered to pay monthly rent on the office space located adjacent to Cartelli's office, and the client's girlfriend offered to work toward re-invigorating the chcarity. Cartelli failed to advise the client of the potential conflict of interest in writing, and Cartelli did not obtain a waiver of any potential conflict of interest from his client. Additionally, the client loaned Cartelli money, at Cartelli's request. Cartelli failed to advise the client of the potential conflict of interest and failed to advise the client to consult with an independent attorney prior to making the loan. Cartelli also accepted a loan to the charity from a former client whose wife Cartelli was representing and charitable donations from other clients without written agreements and without advising those clients to seek independent legal counsel. Cartelli also failed to keep adequate financial records for the charity. Marcus Raymond Spagnoletti, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1746, June 11, 2020, 401 Louisiana St., Fl. 8, Houston, TX 77002-1629. Public Reprimand followed by probation, set to terminate May 1, 2021. Respondent was admitted to practice on October 4, 2010. In two separate client matters, Respondent failed to properly communicate with his clients regarding their respective ongoing claims and cases involving the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill and British Petroleum. Respondent failed to advise his clients. William DeForest Thompson Jr., Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1820, May 7, 2020, 2030 McGregor Blvd., Ft. Myers, FL 33901. Respondent was admitted to practice on January 21, 1988. After a July 15, 2019 order suspending respondent, he failed to comply with the requirements of Rule 3-5.1(h) of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. Respondent failed to remove all indicia of attorney status from his website and social media platforms, and failed to notify individuals in three cases of his suspension.
January 25 to February 21, 2020Gerald Brett Berg, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. 19-1390, 1350 Main St., Suite 1113, Springfield, Mass. Public reprimand, effective immediately following a Feb. 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Berg represented both the buyer and seller in a real estate transaction in which the seller provided the financing to the buyer. At closing, the buyer discovered that the terms of the loan substantially favored the seller. Berg acknowledged the conflict and requested the buyer execute a waiver of conflict of interest, which she refused to do. The buyer did not receive the representation that she should have received through independent counsel. This is a reciprocal discipline action based on the order of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers of the Supreme Judicial Court. Anthony Gilbert Bossone, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. 19-1827, P.O. Box 2194, Palm Harbor. Suspended until further order of the court effective 30 days from a Feb. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1989) Bossone failed to respond to an official Bar inquiry so the Bar filed a Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause with the Supreme Court of Florida. The court issued an Order to Show Cause to Bossone, but he failed to respond. Richard Luther Bradford, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1906, P.O. Box 6999, Brandon. Disbarred, effective immediately following a Dec. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1995) Bradford was held in contempt of the court's April 11, 2019 order for failing to notify clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension. Sonya Charmaine Davis, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1447, 6356 Cypress Gardens Blvd., Winter Haven. Admonished, effective immediately following a Feb. 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Davis, who was hired to replace the counsel of record in a client's pending dissolution of marriage, sent a Joint Motion for Substitution of Counsel to the counsel of record, who declined to sign the motion without a hearing. After three months, Davis had not followed through, so the client terminated Davis's representation. Davis failed to timely respond to The Bar's written inquiries. Amie Katherine Dilla, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1827, 3219 Audubon Ct., Tarpon Springs. Suspended until further order of the court effective March 1. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Dilla failed to respond to an official bar inquiry so the Bar filed a Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause with the Supreme Court of Florida. The court issued an Order to Show Cause to Dilla, but she failed to respond. Howard Hunter Ellzey, Jr., Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-173, 4807 U.S. 19, Suite 202, New Port Richey. Public reprimand and probation for three years effective immediately following a Feb. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Ellzey was arrested for DUI and refusal to submit to testing. He was charged with felony driving under the influence of alcohol, his third offense within 10 years. Ellzey pled guilty to misdemeanor DUI and misdemeanor refusal to submit to testing and was adjudicated guilty of both charges. Ellzey completed the terms of his criminal probation. Eric Charles Feasley, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-167, 3777 Countryside Rd., Sarasota. Suspended for 45 days effective 30 days from a Feb. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Feasley failed to comply with the terms and conditions of his probation, specifically he failed to comply with his Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. contract. Mark S. Scott, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC20-160, 600 Coral Way, FL 12, Miami. Suspended until further notice effective 30 days from a Feb. 3 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) On Nov. 21, 2019, at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict against Womack on two felony counts, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Nathaniel H. Speights, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1890, P.O. Box 33152, Washington, D.C. Disbarred effective immediately following a Dec. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1976) Speights was held in contempt of the court's order dated April 18, 2019, for failing to notify clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension. This is a reciprocal disciplinary action based on the order of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Sabrina Starr Spradley, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1954, 207 Tropic Isle Drive, Apt. 107, Delray Beach. Suspended for three years effective immediately following a Feb. 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Spradley was held in contempt of the court's orders dated March 28, 2018, and April 25, 2019, for failing to notify clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of her suspension. Spradley also failed to comply with the conditions of her suspension including, paying restitution and contacting Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., for an evaluation. Jeffrey Robert Thibault, P.O. Box 342434, Tampa, suspended effective 30 days following a Feb. 10 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) Thibault misappropriated client funds, failed to communicate and act with reasonable diligence, and failed to respond to The Florida Bar.
December 26, 2019 to January 24, 2020Jan Douglas Atlas, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1945, 157 Winding Meadows Drive, Flat Rock, N.C. Disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective 30 days from a Jan. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Atlas, in connection with the Global Capital investment scheme that affected more than 3,600 investors in 42 states, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of securities fraud. Kevin Scott Caldwell, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1831, P.O. Box 8716, Fleming Island. Suspended indefinitely effective 30 days following a Dec. 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Caldwell failed to respond to The Florida Bar regarding several complaints filed against him. The Supreme Court held Caldwell in contempt in addition to his suspension. Colleen Marie Dunne, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC18-1880, 1220 Second St., Key West. Suspended for one year effective 30 days from a Jan. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Dunne, a state prosecutor, misrepresented to the court and opposing counsel her knowledge and possession of pertinent statements made by a defendant at the time of his arrest. The statements were ultimately turned over to the defense well in advance of trial. Catherine Rose Faughnan, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1355, 12 Ardsley Road, Binghamton, N.Y. Suspended for 90 days effective 30 days from a Jan. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Faughnan agreed to handle a civil matter for a client pro bono. She was the attorney of record on the case, but became gravely ill, moved back to New York to address her medical issues and abandoned the client without taking adequate steps to protect the client's interests. Henry George Ferro, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1251, 108 N. Magnolia Ave., Ocala. Public reprimand effective 15 days from a Jan. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) By an Aug. 10, 2017, federal court order, Ferro received monetary sanctions for filing frivolous claims on behalf of a client. The court dismissed the complaint Ferro filed as an impermissible shotgun pleading, noting that the assertions were largely vague, conclusory and with unfounded sweeping accusations. The court also dismissed with prejudice an amended complaint Ferro filed against some defendants based on various immunities. Jonathan Scott Gunn, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-2013, 110 SE Sixth St., Suite 1700, Fort Lauderdale. Permanent disciplinary revocation effective immediately following a Jan. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Following Gunn's initial disciplinary revocation effective Nov. 8, 2018, he continued to handle trust funds. As a result, The Bar filed a contempt petition, which led to the current permanent disciplinary revocation. Brett Hartley, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC18-2069, 533 Seabreeze Blvd., Suite 300, Daytona Beach. Disbarred effective immediately following a Jan. 23 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Hartley misappropriated funds from multiple clients and then made intentional misrepresentations to presiding judges in order to conceal what he had done. Hartley also neglected client matters and failed to properly assure that his clients' interests were protected when he was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in a previous matter. Erin Nicole Lockhart, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-2050, 255 Primera Blvd., Suite 128, Lake Mary. Suspended for 30 days with automatic reinstatement and one-year probation effective 30 days from a Dec. 24, 2019, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Between 2016 and May 31, 2019, Lockhart operated her own law firm and maintained a law office trust account. A Bar audit revealed that Lockhart failed to maintain the required substantial minimum in her firm's trust account. While there were numerous technical violations, there was no evidence of misappropriation. Lockhart now works at a law firm where she has no trust account maintenance responsibilities. Joseph John Mancini, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1339, 101 N. U.S. Highway 1, Suite 200, Fort Pierce. Suspended for 91 days effective 30 days from a Dec. 24, 2019, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Mancini failed to pursue his client's employment claim, which was dismissed. Mancini also violated his probation in a previous case. Roger S. Rathbun, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-370, 9380 NW 13th St., Plantation. Suspended for three years effective 30 days from a Jan. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Rathbun sent multiple taunting and harassing e-mails to opposing counsel and another co-counsel while a Bar complaint was pending. These retaliatory e-mails were sent over a period of weeks to intimidate and for the purpose of interfering in the Bar process. The court disapproved the referee's recommendation of a one-year suspension and suspended Rathbun for three years. Thomas Anthony Sadaka, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC18-58, 3520 Forest Ridge Lane, Kissimmee. Disbarred effective immediately following a Jan. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) The court held Sadaka in contempt for failing to notify the courts, opposing counsel and his clients, as required following his suspension. Sadaka also continued to practice law after he was suspended by sending emails and making representations on behalf of clients and failing to timely take down his law firm website and close his virtual office. Alka R. Sharma, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC19-1113, 330 Clematis St., Suite 209, West Palm Beach. Suspended for 18 months effective 30 days from a Jan. 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Sharma was hired to represent complainants in a homeowner's claim that was previously denied by their insurance carrier. Sharma failed to file a complaint but then told her clients she had. Sharma gave false "updates" for several years, eventually informing the clients they won a favorable judgment and showing them a final judgment purportedly entered in their case. After Sharma informed the clients that she was meeting with a company that was willing to buy their judgment for a reduced rate, thus avoiding the appellate process, they discovered that the final judgment had been forged. Randall Albert Werre, Fla. Supreme Court Case No. SC18-1445, P.O. Box 387, Milton. Suspended for one year effective immediately following a Dec. 4, 2019 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Werre failed to diligently pursue a client's bankruptcy case by failing to file a notice of appearance, missing the 341 creditors' meeting, and having no contact with the client or her family lawyer after his initial consultation. In another case regarding a client's bankruptcy petition relating to garnishment for credit card debt, the client was unable to communicate with Werre for over a year and Werre filed the bankruptcy petition one year late.