Broward County

She asked her lawyer about her $300,000. It wasn’t the answer she was expecting

An attorney who used almost all of his client’s $300,000 over seven years. An attorney who got paid money by clients he then ignored. An attorney who pleaded guilty to planning fraud to get money.

Clearly, money was the root that put three South Florida lawyers, none of whom will be practicing again in the near future, on the monthly Florida Bar discipline report. They are:

▪  Davie’s 86-year-old George Jay Blutstein (Brooklyn Law School, admitted to the Bar 1957), proves it’s never too late in life to be disbarred.

According to Florida Bar discipline documents, in April 1998, a harvest and timber sale produced $309,108.38 that Blutstein was to hold in a trust for Virginia Rosen. Over time, Rosen told Blutstein to make some property tax payments from that money. Come August 2016, she wanted to know how much money was left in the account.

As a referee’s report states, “During the August 2016 meeting with Rosen, (Blutstein) confessed that he had taken all the money entrusted to him and had spent it. He further stated that he was unable to reimburse her for the monies he had taken.”

Rosen reacted by filing a grievance with the Bar. The referee’s report says that Blutstein admitted to paying the taxes and misappropriating the rest:

Blutstein “stated in his September 29, 2016, response to Rosen’s grievance that ‘his business died at one point,’ and as he ‘had no money,’ he had ‘dipped’ into Rosen’s funds.”

Blutstein proved to be a big dipper. An examination of bank records showed that from Oct., 31, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2016, the amount of money in three Blutstein business accounts dropped precipitously, most notably an escrow account that plunged from $309,036.34 to $29.45.

Blutstein has been disbarred and ordered to pay Rosen $100,000 in restitution.

▪ Coral Springs’ Christopher Buttermore (Nova Southeastern, admitted 1988) hasn’t shown the Bar proof that he paid $16,169.80 restitution to the couple who paid Buttermore that much to represent them as they settled credit card debt. They didn’t find out for four years he'd ignored their case. After his 2015 suspension for ignoring clients, he ignored the Bar’s requirement for various forms of paperwork having to do with the suspension. Now, he’s disbarred.

▪ Miami’s Annet Lopez (St. Thomas University School of Law, admitted 2005) went for disciplinary revocation, which is essentially disbarment, but usually allows the attorney to apply for readmission in five years. But Lopez, 43, is getting the revocation “without leave to seek readmission.” She was already suspended for not coming across with trust account records when subpoenaed for them by the Bar in a matter from 2015. While no criminal charges resulted from that, Lopez pleaded guilty in September to insurance fraud and an organized scheme to defraud for more than $50,000.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal