Florida Supreme Court disciplines 10 attorneys

Leslie H. Smith, spokesman for the Department of Lawyer Regulation of The Florida Bar informed local Historic City News reporters that the Florida Supreme Court has recently disciplined ten attorneys, disbarring one, revoking the licenses of one, suspending six and reprimanding two. One attorney was ordered to pay restitution.  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

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 re-apply 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 February 24, 2021, to March 25, 2021

Ronald Cordon, 335 N.W. 54th St., Miami, suspended for one year effective 30 days following a March 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990) Cordon represented a client who sought a loan modification of his property that was under foreclosure proceedings. Cordon created a corporation where his mother was the president and his wife the treasurer, to purchase the client’s property but failed to inform the client that his family had a pecuniary interest in the corporation. The client did not have independent counsel. The corporation then leased the property back to the client with an option to purchase the property but when client fell behind on payments, Cordon’s law firm represented the corporation in an eviction suit against the client.  (Case No: SC19-1179)

Timothy Lamont Dave, P.O. Box 951535, Lake Mary, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective 30 days following a March 11 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Dave engaged in a pattern of misconduct which includes neglecting several clients’ matters, failing to comply with court orders, making misleading statements to the court, and trust account violations. (Case No: SC20-1817)

Ellen B. Dorfman, 5820 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton, disbarred effective 30 days following a Feb. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Dorfman witnessed and notarized an agreement representing that the parties to the agreement were personally present and the oath administered as required by law.  However, one party to the agreement was not present during the execution of the agreement, and Dorfman had not witnessed this party sign the agreement. Dorfman testified falsely under oath multiple times that she witnessed both parties execute the agreement to which she thereafter notarized in their presence. She committed Perjury in Official Proceedings a third-degree felony. (Case No: SC19-1557)

Crystal Lyn Eller, 104 S. Jones Blvd., Las Vegas, Nevada, public reprimand effective 30 days following a March 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Eller was hired to assist her client in obtaining excess proceeds from the foreclosure sale of her property. Eller received $12,328.44 for approximately two weeks of work which constituted an unreasonable fee.  She improperly shared legal fees with a nonlawyer business. The nonlawyer business also improperly solicited clients for Eller. This is a reciprocal discipline action based on a Letter of Reprimand filed by the State Bar of Nevada.  (Case No:  SC20-1512)

Robert Charles Grady, 6243 Autumn Berry Cir., Jacksonville, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a March 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) Grady was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated Sept. 22, 2017, for failing to comply with terms and conditions of his probation, which included a requirement that he actively participates in his FLA, Inc. contract. (Case No: SC21-112)

Leroy G. Lee, P.O. Box 370420, Miami, suspended for 6 months, effective 30 days following a March 4 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Lee was the subject of six disciplinary cases all involving neglect of clients matters. Lee provided partial services after receiving a retainer fee in a divorce proceeding and failed to maintain communication with client; performed no legal services after receiving a fee to file civil suit on behalf of client in an illegal dumping dispute; failed to take any steps to collect a judgment on behalf of a client who paid for his services and failed to refund the retainer fee to the client; failed to initiate probate proceedings on behalf of client who paid fees for his services; failed to respond to discovery on behalf of client in a small claims action resulting in attorney fees awarded against the client and dismissal of the case, in addition to withdrawing from representation without notice; and did not file more than a notice of appearance on behalf of client in a civil action where he was retained and received fees for his services resulting in a default against the client in the civil matter. (Court Case: SC20-1197)

Fernando Martin Socol, 3350 S.W. 148th Ave., Suite 134, Miramar, public reprimand and restitution effective immediately following a March 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Socol failed to properly supervise disbarred attorney who was employed as a paralegal in Socol’s law firm and had direct contact with a client. The disbarred attorney informed client that in exchange for a $150,000 loan to a clinic, he would be sponsored for an L-1 Visa. Almost immediately, the borrower defaulted. Socol denies knowledge of or involvement in the loan. (Court Case: SC20-1257)

Stuart Jared Starr, 5241 S.W. 9th St., Fort Lauderdale, suspended for three years effective immediately following a Feb. 18 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1970) Starr was held in contempt of the Court’s order dated Sept. 25, 2019, for failing to comply with Rule 3-5.1(h) requirements of notifying clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension. (Court Case No: SC20-273)

Luis Torrens, 8045 N.W. 155th St., Miami Lakes, suspended for 18 months effective 30 days following a March 25 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) Torrens, acting as the settlement agent in a real estate closing, prepared several documents, including the HUD-1 Settlement Statement and the mortgage and security agreements, containing inaccuracies regarding the loan amount. Torrens also failed to withhold enough funds to pay three years of property taxes and failed to supervise a nonlawyer in the preparation of a quit claim deed. (Court Case: SC21-379)

Alba Varela, 3211 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Suite 200, Coral Gables, suspended for 15 days, effective 30 days following a Feb. 25 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Varela failed to supervise an assistant in the writing and sending of a letter that violated several advertising rules and were received by parties represented by counsel in a foreclose action, without counsel’s permission. Varela also committed a technical violation by failing to obtain a written waiver of a potential conflict of interest from a dual representation, even though no actual conflict arose. (Court Case: SC20-179)

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