Several Florida attorneys were disciplined by the state Supreme Court in September over fraud, DUI, financial improprieties — and doing nothing on cases.
Here they are:
▪ Joseph Bernstein of Fort Lauderdale opted for disciplinary revocation without the option to seek readmission. So, Bernstein, a Bar member since 1977, is, in effect, permanently disbarred. Bernstein went for disciplinary revocation in 2016 after being accused of misappropriating $164,000 in client funds, but he continued to practice law by interacting with clients and reviewing documents. He has pleaded not guilty to grand theft charges in Broward County.
▪ Michael Eisenberg, of Tampa, was disbarred, but it didn’t seem like he was that into being a lawyer anymore anyway. According to a referee’s report, Eisenberg ignored at least 12 requests for status updates from a client who was trying to sell his late mother’s house in 2016. Finally, Eisenberg told the client that the proper probate actions had been taken.
Eisenberg hadn’t filed anything. When the Bar called him out on it, Eisenberg didn’t answer — repeatedly. The Barry University School of Law graduate was suspended and, now, disbarred.
▪ Paul Green of Jacksonville is serving a 60-day suspension. The actions to which Green pleaded guilty were detailed in a Miami Herald article.
In a statement to the Herald, Green says he entered the conditional guilty plea for consent judgment because he lacked the finances to fight the charges (although he did admit to sending an anti-Semitic text message about his wife’s divorce lawyer). He says the accusations in one Bar complaint are spurious, revenge from former partner Patricia Parker after a personal relationship soured into sexual harassment; the accusation of the former client that he repeatedly tried to meet her socially was revenge for not finishing her case; and wanted to make clear he was referred to Florida’s Lawyers Assistance Program for stress.
Parker e-mailed the Herald that “Mr. Green’s allegations are not true” and that she turned over records, texts and e-mails to the Bar for its investigation into the complaints.
▪ Tracy Long of Delray Beach received a public reprimand after, the Bar said, he entered his appearance representing a husband and wife in a foreclosure defense case. But the wife was unaware of Long’s representation or the foreclosure case at all.
▪ William Bryan Park II of Longwood started a 91-day suspension on Oct. 20. This is reciprocal discipline after Park was indefinitely suspended from practicing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The referee’s report says the University of Florida College of Law graduate didn’t answer the clerk’s office in a direct criminal appeal and “failed to file an initial brief despite receiving two extensions of time within which to do so.”
▪ Megan Richards of Jacksonville and the Florida Coastal School of Law will receive a public reprimand after pleading no contest to DUI and resisting an officer without violence (the arrest form claims when the state trooper said she was under arrest, Richards said “NO!” and started to march back to her SUV). She also must be evaluated by Florida Lawyers Assistance, which helps deal with mental health and substance abuse problems.
▪ Thomas Rosenblum of Jacksonville received a public reprimand for taking $500 to handle paperwork in a child support case, but didn’t prepare or file the documents, according to the Bar. After the client filed a complaint with the Bar, the referee’s report says, Rosenblum said he’d refund the money only after getting fees from other clients. The Florida State School of Law graduate returned the $500 (without interest) 23 months after getting it.
▪ Andrew Scott of Jacksonville will receive a public reprimand and must continue with his outpatient treatment program. Scott was arrested in January on a DUI charge and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving. The Bar says the same sequence of events happened with the University of Florida School of Law graduate in 2016.
▪ Justin Spiller of Ponte Vedra is suspended until April 20. A client hired Spiller to close on a $25,000 piece of property in Jacksonville. Spiller’s conditional guilty plea for consent judgment says she wired $29,967 into his escrow account for the purchase price, taxes, nuisance liens, etc.
Except The Emory University School of Law graduate had given the client instructions for wiring to his operating account, not the escrow account. And the property taxes, nuisance liens and owner’s policy Spiller should have paid as the closing attorney never got paid. Also, the consent judgment says, he “inadvertently used the funds for personal expenses.”
Spiller did refund the money to the client.
▪ Glenn Webber of Stuart is suspended until Dec. 12. The Bar says Webber was too laissez faire with his staff, which led to trust account problems and “shortages of a brief duration,” according to The Bar.
▪ Lawrence Weisberg of Boca Raton went for disciplinary revocation without leave to seek readmission, so, in effect, disbarment. The disciplinary action involved the federal court case in which Weisberg pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud connected to the Reflections Treatment Center health care fraud.
As described in Weisberg’s guilty plea, Reflections shadow owner Kenneth Chatman was promised kickbacks to use Smart Lab’s urinalysis testing services. Smart Lab paid sales representatives a commission for each urine sample referred to the lab.
“These payments to the sales reps were actually illegal kickbacks paid directly or indirectly to owners or employees of treatment facilities that were disguised as sales commissions,” Weisberg’s admission states
Weisberg signed on as a sales rep. So, $175,835.61 flowed through him to a third party the court documents call “L.F.” L.F. then made kickback payments to Chatman. For Chatman, this was just a small part of the fraud that earned him a 27-year prison sentence. Weisberg will be sentenced Nov. 6.
▪ Mark Wilkins of Spring Hill received a public reprimand for filing a civil case complaint, then abandoning it for two years.