BEWARE FLORIDIANS READ THIS ARTICLE! - FL Attys Seem to be a problem - Swamp Critters
FL Attys Bernardo Roman III, Francisco Jose Aguero, Jason Steven Dalley, Marcelo Gomez, Melissa A. Heaton, Melissa A. Heaton, Lori Kathryn Kovacs, Byron Gregory Petersen, Byron Gregory Petersen, Frederick Joseph Keitel III, Guillermo Perez
The Florida Supreme Court took disciplinary action against 11 South Florida attorneys.
Between May 15 and July 12, the high court disbarred, suspended or otherwise sanctioned the attorneys for misconduct, according to information released late Tuesdady.
Among those disciplined: Bernardo Roman III of Coral Gables, who was permanently disbarred following a protracted legal battle concerning “frivolous lawsuits” filed against other attorneys in a dispute involving the Miccosukee Tribe. Roman filed “three separate frivolous lawsuits in state and federal courts” against attorneys from the Lewis Tein law firm in Miami, who had also formerly represented the tribe. His disbarment was the culmination of several years of controversy after Roman filed suits in state and federal court on behalf of the Miccosukee Tribe against Miami attorneys Guy Lewis and Michael Tein. His court filings alleged the attorneys had billed the former client for millions of dollars in “fictitious, excessive, exorbitant and unsubstantiated legal fees.” The suits also alleged Lewis and Tein had conspired with then-Miccosukee Chairman Billy Cypress to receive kickbacks.
Francisco Jose Aguero of Coral Gables was disbarred on June 28 for misappropriating client funds. He also failed to offer proper representation after receiving payment for his services in three separate cases, according to the Florida Bar. In one instance where Aguero served as a closing agent, he collected more than $6,500 in property taxes but never remitted that money to the Miami-Dade tax collector’s office. He also failed to appear for the disciplinary proceedings. The high court ordered him to pay more than $136,000 in restitution to his former clients.
Jason Steven Dalley of Boca Raton was effectively disbarred following a request for disciplinary revocation. Dalley was sentenced to 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and health care fraud. He was one of six South Florida personal injury attorneys arrested in 2017 during a multi-agency investigation that included the FBI and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Prosecutors alleged he was part of a ring that paid more than $1 million in kickbacks to tow truck drivers and others as part of an illegal venture to entice accident victims to pursue personal injury lawsuits.
Marcelo Gomez of Fort Lauderdale also received disciplinary revocation. Gomez will be able to seek readmission after five years. ” A disciplinary matter pending against Gomez involves him accepting cash from a cooperating defendant who owned a medical clinic that had treated a few of Gomez’s clients,” according to the Florida Bar.
Melissa A. Heaton of Cooper City has been retroactively suspended for one year from Oct. 25, 2017, after a Broward court rendered a determination of guilt against her for a felony. Heaton pleaded no contest to illegal drug possession. The high court will also place her on probation for three years.
Lori Kathryn Kovacs of Boca Raton has been disbarred after being found in contempt for not appearing to testify before a grievance committee. She had been served a subpoena and failed to respond to the bar concerning financial irregularities. “In one instance, a trust account check was returned for insufficient funds,” according to the bar, which launched an inquiry “regarding questionable financial matters.”
Another Boca Raton attorney, Byron Gregory Petersen, has been suspended for three years. Peterson reportedly deliberately created conflicts of interest while handing several cases for a married couple. According to bar, Peterson neglected cases and failed to communicate, lost or misplaced client documents, and then lied about it.
Jeremy W. Alters of Dania Beach got an interim suspension order as the Florida Supreme Court continues to weigh his case. Alters faces disciplinary proceedings after his firm moved more than $1 million from its trust accounts to cover Alters’ personal spending as well as corporate overhead.
Byron Gregory Petersen
has been effectively disbarred following a petition for disciplinary revocation. Douglas, a Davie-based attorney, will be able to seek readmission in five years. The bar charged him with misappropriating trust funds and failing to adequately communicate with his clients.
After failing to respond to bar inquiries in proceedings against him, Palm Beach-based attorney Frederick Joseph Keitel III has been suspended until further order.
Guillermo Perez of Miami has been suspended for 18 months after the high court found he committed fraud in a commercial real estate transaction. Perez had been acting as the closing agent.