The former attorney for the Miccosukee Indians has lost his law license for filing a series of bogus lawsuits on behalf of the tribe.
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the disbarment of Bernardo Roman, who formerly represented the small tribe of West Miami-Dade. Roman did not answer his phone on Thursday afternoon.
Roman was the lawyer who filed lawsuits targeting the tribe’s former lawyers, Guy Lewis and Michael Tein, alleging the pair conspired with then-Miccosukee Chairman Billie Cypress. In the first federal suit, Roman alleged Lewis and Tein conspired with Billie to get kickbacks, while hiding Cypress’ spending from the rest of the tribe.
But a federal judge later dismissed the tribe’s claims, ordering the Miccosukees and Roman sanctioned for filing a lawsuit that featured “no evidence or only patently frivolous evidence.” Later, the tribe agreed to pay $4 million to Lewis and Tein over that case and several other failed lawsuits.
The Florida Bar sought to disbar Roman. A Miami judge acting as a referee agreed with the discipline and found Roman guilty of a slew of legal misconduct charges, including that he falsely claimed that a rival attorney attacked his nut-allergic law clerk by sprinkling pistachios and peanuts in her food.
The years of litigation took a toll on Lewis and Tein, who testified that their legal careers were left in tatters from the negative headlines.
“The tribe with its lawyers destroyed our law practice,” Tein, a former federal prosecutor, testified at a hearing last year. “Destroyed our reputations that we spent a lifetime building.”
Some of Roman’s lawsuits also targeted another former tribal lawyer, former Miami U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen, who represented the tribe on everything from water management issues in the Everglades to income tax issues stemming from the tribe’s casino.
The Miccosukee tribe, which numbers about 600 members, runs a casino and resort near the Everglades.