The Florida Bar announced to Historic City News in St Augustine that the Florida Supreme Court recently ordered 22 attorneys disciplined; including Ponte Vedra Beach attorney, Richard Scott Draughon, who was among ten disbarred and eight suspended from the practice of law.
Draughon handled high technology matters involving the Internet, software, hardware, multimedia and telecommunications. He also maintained a traditional intellectual property practice providing copyright, trademark and patent legal services. He was admitted to practice in 1987, several years after earning his Juris Doctor and LL.M. degrees from the George Washington National Law Center. He earned his B.A. and M.B.A. degrees from the University of North Florida and is a native of Jacksonville.
According to the Florida Bar, Draughon deliberately and knowingly engaged in professional misconduct, including dishonesty. He has been suspended for one year — effective 30 days from a June 28 court order, Case No. SC09-2056.
Draughon failed to pay an outstanding balance of $110,000 on a promissory note given to purchase a residential property under the name of an asset-less company of which he was the sole shareholder. Draughon transferred the property into his personal name without paying any consideration.
Other disciplinary actions reported included:
Jeffrey Wayne Day, 13 Mountain ViewRoad, Flint Hill, VA, suspended until further order, effective 30days from a June 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Day was foundin contempt for failing to respond to respond to multiple official Barinquiries. (Case No. SC12-639)
Paul Lawrence Erickson, 604 VistaView Drive, Asheville, N.C., suspended until further order, followinga June 5 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) According to an emergencysuspension order, Erickson, also a member of The North Carolina State Bar,appeared to be causing great public harm in that stateby participating in a fraudulent mortgageelimination scheme. In August 2008, he was suspended by The North CarolinaState Bar and prohibited from practicing law for five years. (Case No.SC12-1096)
Veverly Gary-Hamilton, 301 ClematisSt., Suite 3000, West Palm Beach, publicly reprimanded followinga May 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Gary-Hamilton is furtherdirected to attend ethics school. Gary-Hamilton entered into a contingencyfee agreement to represent her cousin, a Georgia resident, for purposesof a personal injury matter. The representation was claimed to be of alimited scope, but Gary-Hamilton did not obtain the client’s informed consentin writing as required by Bar rules. Gary-Hamilton failed to diligentlypursue settlement or advise her client to file suit prior to the expirationof the statute of limitations, depriving him of the opportunity to makean informed decision on the case. (Case No. SC12-422)
David William Iverson, 2225 N. CommercePkwy., Suite 7, Weston, suspended for 90 days, effective30 days from a May 29 court order. Further, upon reinstatement, Iversonis placed on probation for one year. (Admitted to practice: 1984)Iverson associated himself with an accounting consulting firm that assisteda client with immigration matters without adequate supervision by Iverson.(Case No. SC12-660)
Janet L Langjahr, 3330 S. FederalHighway, Suite 208, Boynton Beach, publicly reprimanded followinga May 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Langjahr wasretained by a client to handle a matter in a limited representation agreement.Langjahr expressed to the client that an additional retainer fee wouldbe charged to her in the future, but never stated the exact amount northe date due. On the day prior to an injunction hearing, Langjahr advisedthe client that she needed to pay an additional $5,000 plus. Although themorning of the hearing the client offered to pay an additional $2,500,Langjhar terminated representation and failed to appear at the hearingfailing to protect her client’s interest. (Case No. SC12-624)
Sara Lawrence, 850 Ives Dairy Road,Suite 53-B, Miami, publicly reprimanded by the Board of Governorsfollowing a May 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1982) Lawrence isfurther directed to attend a Florida Bar professionalism workshop. Lawrencerepresented a client (the wife) in a dissolution of marriage matter. Onthe eve of the divorce trial, phoning from Lawrence’s office, her clientattempted to participate in a court authorized and ordered telephone visitationwith the couple’s children. The call was forwarded to the husband’s answeringservice. The message on the husband’s voicemail contained Lawrence’svoice directly addressing the husband concerning the subject matter ofthe representation. Opposing counsel did not authorize Lawrence to engagein direct communication with the husband. When it was brought to the presidingjudge’s attention that Lawrence had directly communicated with the husbandthe night before, Lawrence repeatedly denied it. Later, when the aforementionedvoicemail message was played in open court, Lawrence admitted that hervoice was on the message, but that she did not recall the incident. (CaseNo. SC11-2197)
Raymond Edmund Makowski, P.O. Box551174, Jacksonville, permanently disbarred effective immediately,following a May 29 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1974) Makowskiprepared and executed a living trust for a long-time client. Subsequently,the client died. The client’s daughter, who was the trustee and sole beneficiary,also died. As successors trustees, the client had named Makowski and anassociate. The client’s granddaughter was now the sole beneficiary ofthe trust. The terms of the trust dictated that it should’ve been terminatedat the time of her death, and the remaining assets were to be given tothe beneficiary, the client’s daughter. Makowski failed to notify thedaughter of this provision, failed to distribute the assets as directed,and failed to comply with numerous requests for accountings and financesof the trust. He also failed to respond to official Bar inquiries. (CaseNo. SC11-1125)
J. William Masters, II, 1229 BurningTree Lane, Winter Park, permanently disbarred effective immediately,following a May 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1973) Masters wasfound in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a Sept. 14, 2010,disbarment order. Masters was ordered to notify his clients, opposing counseland tribunals of his disbarment, and provide The Florida Bar within 30days of his disbarment, a sworn affidavit listing the names and addressesof all persons and entities that were furnished a copy of the order. (CaseNo. SC11-961)
Kenneth J. Morilak, 3825 AppaloosaDrive, Woodbridge, VA, disbarred effective immediately, followinga May 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Morilak, also an officerwith the Judge Advocate General’s Corp in the U.S. Army Reserves, pleadedguilty in U.S. district court to one felony count of violating FalseClaims Against the Government. (Case No. SC12-517)
William Timothy O’Toole, 120 E.Oakland Park Blvd., Suite 105, Fort Lauderdale, disbarred effectiveimmediately, following a May 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992)O’Toole was the subject of 20 Bar disciplinary matters. O’Toole failedto properly communicate with clients and failed to diligently handle theircases. O’Toole allowed nonlawyers to improperly solicit clients on hisbehalf for loan modifications and foreclosure defense on a nationwide basis,despite the fact he could only practice law in Florida. He also split feeswith nonlawyers, a violation of Bar rules. (Case No. SC11-1815)
Jaime Roberto, 645 Barretto St.,Apt. C, Bronx, NY, to be publicly reprimanded following aJune 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Roberto was found in contemptfor failing to respond in a timely manner to official Bar inquiries. (CaseNo. SC12-558)
Scott Elliott Rovenger, 8 Port SideDrive, Fort Lauderdale, disbarred effective immediately, followinga May 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1978) Rovenger was the subjectof a Bar disciplinary matter accusing him of engaging in the inappropriatedisbursement of funds from his trust account. In March 2001, Rovenger receiveda settlement check for $450,000, on behalf of a client, stemming from apersonal injury matter. A review of Rovenger’s trust account between July2010 and February 2012 revealed balances below $10,000 for several months,indicating that monies from the $450,000 settlement were no longer there.(Case No. SC12-625)
Benjamin Rosen Schulman, 4340 SheridanSt., Suite 102, Hollywood, disbarred effective retroactive to Nov.28, 2011, following a May 29, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986)Schulman improperly disbursed third party funds held in his trust accountwithout their consent. He also failed to maintain the minimum trust accountrecords required by Bar rules. (Case No. SC11-2427)
Jeffrey Alan Schwarz, 801 N.E. 167thSt., Floor 2, North Miami Beach, permanently disbarred effectiveimmediately, following a May 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1976)Schwarz was the subject of a Bar disciplinary matter alleging that he didnot timely disburse settlement funds received in a personal injury matterand failed to adequately communicate with the client regarding the statusof representation. Schwarz also failed to comply with the terms of a subpoenaserved by The Florida Bar, commanding him to produce specific trust accountingrecords. (Case No. SC12-562)
Jonathan Stephen Schwartz, 200 S.E.1st St., Suite 505, Miami, suspended for 90 days, effective30 days from a May 29 court order. Further, upon reinstatement, Schwartzis placed on probation for one year. (Admitted to practice: 1986)On three separate occasions, Schwartz knowingly made misrepresentationsto the court regarding the improper notarizations of documents, while representinga client in a child paternity case. Schwartz also loaned money to the clientfor living expenses, a violation of Bar rules. (Case No. SC11-2143)
Schuyler Stewart Smith, 118 W. AdamsSt., Suite 800, Jacksonville, suspended for two years, effective30 days from a May 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1982) On numerousoccasions, Smith forged the signature of an attorney on fee affidavitswithout the attorney’s permission. (Case No. SC11-2199)
Robert Andrew Smoley, 20533 BiscayneBlvd., Suite 648, Aventura, disbarred effective retroactive to June2, 2011, following a May 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1978) Smoleypleaded guilty in U.S. district court to one felony count of drug conspiracyand one felony count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. (CaseNo. SC11-837)
Steve Stavrakis Jr., 623 E. TarponAve., Tarpon Springs, suspended for one year, effective 30 daysfrom a May 22 court order. Further, upon reinstatement, Stavrakis is placedon probation for two years. (Admitted to practice: 1992) Shortagesin Stavrakis’ trust account ranged from $235.89 in November 2009 to $39,759in September 2010. A Bar audit of the account, during that period throughFebruary 2012 revealed that Stavrakis did not have an operating account,used his trust account to operate his law practice and did not maintainany of the required trust records. (Case No. SC12-1016)
Herman Thomas, 2200 Rue de Le FloreSt., Mobile, Ala., disbarred effective immediately, following aJune 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1986) This is a reciprocal disciplinecase. Thomas was twice disbarred by the Alabama State Bar. (Case No. SC11-925)
Eric Jefferson Tinsley, 11780 SaintAndrews Place, Apt. 305, Wellington, disbarred effective retroactiveto April 4, 2011, following a May 22 court order. (Admitted to practice:2003) Tinsley admitted to misappropriating trust funds and using clientmonies for his own purposes rather than the intended purposes. He alsocommingled personal funds with client funds in an attempt to fix the shortagesin his trust account and failed to maintain the minimum trust account recordsrequired by Bar rules. (Case No. SC11-802)
Kenneth Paul Whiting, 53 ChenangoSt., Suite 700, Binghamton, N.Y., suspended for one year, effectiveretroactive to Oct. 24, 2011, following a May 22 court order. (Admittedto practice: 1989) This is a reciprocal discipline case from New York.Whiting pleaded guilty in U.S. district court to one count of a multi-countindictment, covering four years of failure to file federal income tax returns,a federal misdemeanor. (Case No. SC11-2056)