“Misappropriated” funds, a bogus bookkeeper and a mess involving the Miccosukee tribe have put several South Florida lawyers on the Florida Bar list of attorneys disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court.
Of the 27 attorneys on the list, nine were from Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties. Fort Lauderdale attorney Kirk Girrbach’s situation was addressed last month.
Here are the remaining eight in alphabetical order:
West Palm Beach attorney William Abramson (Chicago-Kent School of Law, admitted to the Bar 1992) has a problem with discipline: publicly reprimanded in 2001 for neglecting a client matter; again in 2002 for neglect and disobeying court orders; got a 91-day suspension in 2008 for disrespectful and confrontational behavior before a judge; and a six-month suspension in 2009 for not revealing possible juror misconduct and “making reckless comments regarding the integrity of a judge.”
Now, Abramson had two Bar discipline cases pending alleging “disrespectful and confrontational behavior before two separate traffic magistrates.” Another case accuses Abramson of not complying with discovery requests in a civil case and being sanctioned. There are two cases accusing him of taking money and running instead of handling criminal matters. And, finally, he’s accused of failing to appear before a grievance committee with requested documents.
Abramson decided to make all this go away by reaching for disciplinary revocation with the ability to apply for Bar readmission in five years. He is, in effect, disbarred until June 19, 2024.
Deerfield Beach attorney David Bernstein (Boston University School of Law, admitted 1994) has been admitted to practice in Florida since 1994. But that doesn’t allow him to practice in Alabama, where Shantangela Allen hired Bernstein to represent her mother, convicted murderer Angela Allen, in post-conviction matters.
Bernstein filed a petition for relief from conviction or sentence, which was denied on the grounds that it wasn’t notarized, was missing Allen’s signature and wasn’t signed by an attorney licensed in Alabama. Bernstein’s attempts to rectify the situation only succeeded in making the filing too late for consideration.
According to the referee’s report, Bernstein didn’t tell Allen, Angela or Shantangela. When Angela Allen wrote Bernstein asking if he was licensed in Alabama and if there had been a response to their filing, the referee’s report said, Bernstein replied with a letter that was “a dishonest response to the questions Angela asked in her letter.”
Why did Shantangela Allen hire Bernstein? She told an Alabama lawyer Richard Jensen, “that (Bernstein) told her he is a national attorney and could handle Angela’s case.”
Of the $4,000 Shantangela Allen paid him, Bernstein tried to keep $500. The referee disagreed.
Bernstein also lied when applying to appear pro hac vice (“for this occasion,” a law version of being a TV series episode’s “special guest star”) in Virginia federal court. He said, in May and June 2016, he hadn’t been reprimanded in any court nor had there been any court action regarding conduct or proper Bar member behavior. He has been publicly reprimanded in 2015 by the Florida Supreme Court, admonished by Kansas federal court and sued for malpractice twice.
Bernstein’s one-year suspension started Friday.
Coral Gables attorney Michael Braunschweig (Nova Southeastern School of Law, admitted 2011) has ignored Florida Bar inquiries regarding two complaints. Braunschweig has been suspended until he answers the Bar.
Boca Raton attorney Brian Glick (Hamline School of Law, admitted 1981) was supposed to hold $2,110.26 in his trust account for a client’s medical liens. That was June 27, 2016. But the money never was used for the liens nor was it sent to the client until he filed a Bar complaint in 2018. Glick sent the client the $2,110.26 owed in November 2018 from the trust account and $168 as “interest” from his general operating account.
As a Bar investigation found, the trust account balance not only dipped below the $2,110.26, but all the way down to zero for three months in 2017. The Bar concluded Glick had swiped the funds and then replaced them with other money later.
The Bar subpoenaed Glick’s trust account records for 2015 through 2018. Glick came across with some, but not all, so he was suspended June 30 until he complied.
In November 2018, Glick told the Bar “the delay was as a result of oversight. Forgetfulness and what I hope you will accept as a reason, excusable neglect. At no time were [the client’s] held as otherwise trust funds and I enclose copies of my trust account statement with Bank United to demonstrate there was not, nor has not been any shortfall or deposit from myself or my firm to cover this amount.”
The Bar made its disdain of Glick’s claim plain: “Despite these false claims, [Glick] refused to provide specific information requested by the Bar and refused to comply with the subpoena for his trust account records. Further, [Glick] disingenuously claimed the Bar had no reason to audit his trust accounts because he had made a double payment to [the client] and that [the client] owed him money.”
Glick remains suspended.
Boca Raton attorney Bianca Greenstein (Capital University School of Law, admitted 1995) had a husband in February 2016 as well as the Greenstein & Lubliner law firm. The husband had a friend that he recommended the firm hire as a bookkeeper. Greenstein had trust in her husband.
What Greenstein didn’t have was a half-decent background check on her husband’s pal. The bookkeeper had a criminal record for theft and signatory authority on the trust account. So, after several trust account checks to herself from April 2016 to June 2017, the bookkeeper had $146,520 of money from that firm account.
Greenstein had no part in or benefit from the thievery, the Bar determined, indeed reported it swiftly and replaced all missing money. Still, she now has a three-year suspension.
She no longer has a husband — they separated three days after the theft was discovered. Their divorce was final in 2018.
In 2017, Boca Raton attorney Joshua Hauserman (Florida Coastal School of Law, admitted 2007) started a two-year probation that included a contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance banning him from alcohol. Hauserman tested positive for alcohol later that year. He went on a version of double not-so-secret probation, the length stretched to three years and testing done monthly.
Hauserman tested positive for alcohol last August, the tester estimating Hauswerman consumed 7 ounces in the two to four weeks before the test. He began a 91-day suspension July 20.
Miami attorney Jose Herrera (admitted 1986) began a decade of disbarment on Friday. The Bar release summarizes Herrera’s ethics violations while representing the Miccosukke Tribe and Tribe member Jimmie Bert in litigation as “raised frivolous claims; made misrepresentations to the court; suborned perjurious testimony; and raised false and/or frivolous claims of privilege in order to conceal relevant evidence.”
“His abusive litigation tactics harmed his own client’s interests and caused prejudice to his client.”
The Referee’s Report details this case then excoriates Herrera for his conduct and effect on Miami attorneys Guy Lewis and Michael Tein.
Miami attorney Edward Martinez (University of Miami School of Law, admitted 2002) got a public reprimand for “charging an impermissible fee in a foreclosure case.” Martinez also had some trust account problems. Going to a trust account workshop and making $6,500 restitution to the client solved the issue.
The Florida Bar case against Fort Lauderdale attorney Jonathan Morris (Nova Southeastern, admitted 2007) accused him of settling a case without his client’s OK, getting the $21,500 settlement money in his trust account on Feb. 7, 2018 and “misappropriating” that money.
Morris, the Bar said, paid $21,500 on Dec. 21, 2018 to the attorney with shom the client replaced him..
To settle the disciplinary aspects of this case, Morris petitioned for disciplinary revocation. He’s out of the law business until at least June 20, 2024.