The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announced to Historic City News reporters that the Florida Supreme Court disciplined 13 attorneys in recent court orders; disbarring two, revoking the licenses of two, reprimanding one and suspending eight. One attorney was also put on probation. 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.
As 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 the more than 108,000 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. For more information on The Florida Bar discipline system and instructions on how to file a complaint, go to 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.
Summaries of orders issued from Dec. 26, 2019, to Jan. 24, 2020
- Jan Douglas Atlas, 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. (Case No. SC19-1945)
- Kevin Scott Caldwell, 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. (Case No. SC19-1831)
- Colleen Marie Dunne, 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. (Case No. SC18-1880)
- Catherine Rose Faughnan, 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. (Case No. SC19-1355)
- Henry George Ferro, 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. (Case No. SC19-1251)
- Jonathan Scott Gunn, 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. (Case No. SC19-2013)
- Brett Hartley, 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. (Case No. SC18-2069)
- Erin Nicole Lockhart, 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. (Case No. SC19-2050)
- Joseph John Mancini, 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. (Case No. SC19-1339)
- Roger S. Rathbun, 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. (Case No. SC19-370)
- Thomas Anthony Sadaka, 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. (Case No. SC 18-58)
- Alka R. Sharma, 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. (Case No. SC19-1113)
- Randall Albert Werre, 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. (Case No. SC18-1445)