Leslie H. Smith, spokesperson for the Department of Lawyer Regulation of The Florida Bar informed local Historic City News reporters that the Florida Supreme Court has recently disciplined 18 attorneys, suspending eight, reprimanding six, and revoking the licenses of four.
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.
Summaries of orders issued from May 20, 2022, to July 21, 2022
Timmy W. Cox, Sr., 7401 S.W. 16th St., Plantation, suspended effective immediately following a July 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2014) Cox failed to respond to official Bar inquiries. The Bar filed its Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause on April 29. The Florida Supreme Court ordered Cox to show cause by May 18. Cox failed to file a response to the court’s Order to Show Cause. (Case No: SC22-598)
James F. Feuerstein, III, 22724 Stallion Dr., Sorrento, disbarred effective immediately per a July 21 court order as Feuerstein is currently suspended for 91 days (by court order dated April 21). (Admitted to practice: 1987) Feuerstein failed to respond to official Bar inquiries in three separate Bar matters and failed to file a response to the Court’s Order to Show Cause. (Case No: SC22-618)
John Hadsall, 18198 3rd St. E., Redington Shores, disbarred, effective 30 days following a July 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1980) Hadsall was found to have improperly transferred assets from the estate of his mother for personal use. He failed to show by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that he acted in good faith throughout the transactions and failed to show that his mother acted freely, intelligently, and voluntarily in gifting him funds from her accounts. Hadsall subsequently attempted to render himself judgment proof to thwart the estate’s attempt to recoup the funds. (Case No: SC21-1444)
Melanie L. Johnson, 4790 Longbow Dr., Titusville, disbarred effective immediately following a July 14 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Johnson misappropriated client funds. In response to the Bar’s request for records needed to perform a compliance audit of her law office trust account, Johnson reconstructed her records and submitted records to the Bar that contained false and misleading information. (Case No: SC21-1675)
Bradley Nephase Laurent, 8615 Commodity Circle, Suite 6, Orlando, emergency suspended effective 30 days following a July 14 court order but to cease accepting new clients as of July 14. (Admitted to practice: 2005) Laurent misappropriated client funds from his law office trust account, some of which he repaid from the proceeds of a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan he obtained on behalf of his law firm for COVID-19 relief. (Case No: SC22-851)
James Santos Wilkie, 1333 S. Ocean Blvd., Suite 1323, Pompano Beach, emergency suspended effective immediately following a July 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) Wilkie misappropriated client settlement funds and made misrepresentations to the Bar during their investigation. (Case No: SC22-911)
William J. Cantrell, 401 E. Jackson St., Suite 2340, Tampa, public reprimand by publication effective immediately following a June 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) Cantrell filed two lawsuits against a third party after he became aware that his girlfriend was involved in an affair with that person. One lawsuit was filed on his own behalf and the other was filed on behalf of Cantrell’s girlfriend. By representing himself and his girlfriend in issues with substantially the same facts and issues, Cantrell engaged in a potential conflict of interest. Cantrell engaged in unprofessional behavior towards the third party and his family. (Case No: SC22-693)
Martha Ann Chapman, P.O. Box 536924, Orlando, public reprimand by publication and completion of Trust Accounting Workshop effective immediately following a June 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1994) Chapman failed to provide a client with an accounting upon demand detailing how she had spent the retainer he paid for the legal work performed, and she failed to adequately communicate with the client after the case was settled. Chapman also failed to provide the client with all the settlement funds he was owed in a timely manner and, as a result, the Bar conducted an audit of Chapman’s attorney trust account. The audit revealed Chapman failed to maintain her trust account in substantial minimum compliance with the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The trust account had a shortage that Chapman corrected. There was no evidence of intentional misappropriation of client funds. (Case No: SC22-340)
Melissa A. Giasi, 400 N. Ashley Dr., Suite 1900, Tampa, public reprimand by publication, attendance at Ethics School, a written apology letter to Judge Muscarella, and payment of Bar costs effective immediately following a May 26 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) During the representation of a client, Giasi made two statements to the court, one in writing and one during a court hearing, that were inaccurate. Upon becoming aware that the statements were erroneous, Giasi took steps to correct any misunderstandings by sending a letter to the judge clarifying the statements, filing an amended motion, and withdrawing from the representation. (Case No: SC21-1637)
Joseph Wimbert Gibson Jr., 19 W. Flagler St., Suite 417, Miami, public reprimand by publication effective immediately following a June 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1982) Gibson continued representing a client after being discharged and delayed the reimbursement of the unused portion of the retainer, as the client requested. After some time, Gibson refunded the entire retainer, less one hour of work, although he maintained he was terminated without cause. (Case No: SC21-1716)
Wendy Arlene Hausmann, 20283 State Road 7, Suite 400, Boca Raton, public reprimand by publication and one year of probation effective immediately following a June 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) Hausmann engaged in a conflict of interest regarding her representation of a business organization/client. Hausmann loaned funds to the client without requiring interest and failed to ensure that a promissory note was executed nor advised the client to seek independent counsel. Later, the client began an investigation of its former board member for misappropriation. Civil litigation then occurred, and Hausmann represented the former board member in some of those proceedings. In several instances, when the former board member appeared pro se, Hausmann assisted him with the pleadings and failed to ensure that the pleadings noted that they were prepared with the assistance of counsel. The trial court judge ultimately disqualified Hausmann due to the conflict. Hausmann appealed the trial court’s order disqualifying her as counsel and the non-final order was affirmed by the Fourth District Court of Appeal. (Case No: SC22-687)
Beresford A. Landers, Jr., 3939 NW 19th St., Lauderdale Lakes, suspended for 90 days effective 30 days following a June 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) Landers engaged in a conflict of interest and was disqualified as counsel by the trial court for assisting the wife in filing a pro se petition for dissolution of marriage and then later appearing as counsel for the husband in the dissolution of marriage and injunction cases filed. During the final hearing, Landers used the information against the wife that he had gained previously while assisting her. Landers admitted to printing the necessary dissolution of marriage forms for the wife, filling out the forms for her after she failed to write dark enough on the forms, and assisting her in obtaining the notarization of certain documents. Landers also conceded that he drove her to the courthouse to file the documents and then filed the documents for her. Landers was not paid for his assistance to the wife and ultimately refunded his legal fee to the husband. (Case No: SC22-689)
Jonathan Benjamin Lewis, 110 SE 6th St., Suite 1700, Fort Lauderdale, suspended effective 30 days following a June 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Lewis failed to respond in writing to the official Bar inquiry and failed to respond to the Court’s Order to Show Cause dated May 2, 2022. (Case No: SC22-592)
Andrew John Manie, P.O. Box 720236, Orlando, suspended for six months and four years of probation effective 30 days following a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2015) In September 2019, Manie responded to an advertisement posted on an escort website and committed a sexual act with a woman in exchange for money. At that time, Manie, who was 30 years old at the time, believed he was meeting with an escort that was over the age of 18. The individual was in fact 17 years and 9 months of age. Pursuant to a grant of immunity, Manie was not criminally prosecuted for the offense. (Case No: SC22-706)
Robert Pereda, 1420 Celebration Blvd., Suite 200, Celebration, emergency suspended effective immediately following a June 17 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2010) Pereda appears to be causing great public harm by misappropriating several clients’ trust funds and using them for his own benefit or the benefit of his firm; Pereda is believed to have abandoned his law practice; has abused the legal process and has failed to respond to the Bar’s subpoena and requests for information. (Case No: SC22-770)
Juan Manuel Saldivar Jr., P.O. Box 17500, Clearwater, suspended for 60 days effective 30 days following a June 2 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2013) Saldivar, as an attorney for the state of Florida in a criminal proceeding, filed a verified motion to disqualify the trial containing misrepresentations and inappropriately calling into question the integrity of the trial judge. Further, Saldivar engaged in improper discovery practices. (Case No: SC22-691)
Gus Vincent Soto, P.O. Box 13979, Tallahassee, disciplinary revocation without leave to apply for readmission and payment of restitution effective immediately following a June 16 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Soto was previously emergency suspended from the practice of law on April 20 for misappropriating settlement funds from multiple clients for more than $390,000. (Case No: SC22-505)
Tarya Arnshelic Tribble, 6328 US Highway 301 S., Riverview, public reprimand by publication effective immediately following a June 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Tribble was engaged in foreclosure litigation concerning commercial property which she used as her law office. During the foreclosure litigation, Tribble and her counsel engaged in conduct that improperly delayed the litigation. Twice during the foreclosure litigation, Tribble filed bankruptcy which stayed the foreclosure proceedings. Both bankruptcies were subsequently dismissed. (Case No: SC21-1606)
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 110,000 members of The Florida Bar.