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Florida Bar Lawyers On the Job as Bank Robbers, Burglars and Stalkin’ Ex’s. More Talent Needed.

Here’s the State of the Florida Bar from their June 2021 list of disciplined Florida rogue lawyers and attorneys. Convicted Felons Wanted to [Re]Join the Fl. Bar today!

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Seekin’ Rogues and Outlaws for Legal Work in Florida. We Provide Rehab. Waivers. Can Work Remotely too, e.g. Nigerian Internet Cafes, Russia’s Dark Web, China’s Cyber Spying Section…

MAY 26, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAY 26, 2021

The Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 15 attorneys, disbarring five, revoking the licenses of two, suspending six, and reprimanding three. Two attorneys were ordered to pay restitution.

Gerald W. Adams, 1314 E. Las Olas Blvd., Suite 1059, Ft. Lauderdale, disbarred effective immediately following an April 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984)

Adams continued to engage in the practice of law in contempt of the Supreme Court’s Order of Suspension by continuing to run his law firm.

Attempting to circumvent the rules, Adams transferred ownership of the firm to his office manager (a non-lawyer) without the office manager’s knowledge.

Adams continued to advertise his legal services online under the guise of document preparation offering to prepare legal documents/forms not approved by the Florida Supreme Court for use by non-lawyers, which constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.

(Case No: SC20-1810)

Damien Aranguren, 725 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Suite 1, Ocala, suspended effective 30 days following a March 30 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009)

Aranguren entered pleas of no contest to three counts of grand theft (statutory theft), a third-degree felony, one count of trespass to structure, a second-degree misdemeanor, and one count of Trespass in Occupied Structure or Conveyance, a first-degree misdemeanor.

The court withheld adjudication as to all counts and sentenced Aranguren

to two years of conditional probation as to the felony counts and to credit for time served as to the misdemeanor counts.

(Case No: SC21-468)

Miami, Florida
Associate Attorney at Marrero, Trivedi, & Camizo
Legal Services

Education
Stetson University College of Law   2006 — 2008
Juris Doctor, Law

University of Central Florida   2002 — 2004
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

Experience
Marrero, Trivedi, & Camizo   July 2012 – Present
LAW OFFICES OF DAMIEN ARANGUREN   October 2011 – June 2012
LAW OFFICES OF WALTER BENENATI   November 2010 – October 2011
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF FLORIDA   August 2008 – October 2010

Skills
Legal Research, Legal Writing, Legal Advice, Client Development, Client Engagement, Building Relationships, Cooperation, Negotiation, Spanish Fluency, Mediation, Family Law, Bankruptcy, Foreclosures, Trials, Pleadings, Legal Issues, Customer Engagement

Local attorney arrested, accused of burglarizing multiple vehicles and home

18 June 2020

Law officers on Wednesday arrested a local attorney and accused him of burglarizing several vehicles and a home until he eventually was held at gunpoint by one of the victims.

Damien Aranguren made his first appearance in front of County Judge Sarah Ritterhoff Williams on Thursday, a day after being taken into custody on several charges that include occupied burglary and grand theft auto.

Aranguren told the judge he plans to represent himself. He also told her he has a substance abuse problem, rents his home and has been living in Marion County for seven years.

The judge read the arrest reports from the Ocala Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and told the 39-year-old Ocala man she believed there was probable cause for his arrest.

Aranguren’s bail was set at $12,000. If he is released from the jail, the judge said, he should not possess or consume any illegal drugs or drugs not prescribed to him, and should not to return to the two southeast Ocala addresses where he allegedly committed the crimes.

About 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence to investigate a vehicle theft. When they arrived, a man told them he had been sitting in his garage, with the garage door open, when he saw his RV’s lights flash and heard the engine start.

The victim said the person behind the wheel apparently did not know how to operate the vehicle, which lunged several times.

The victim said he opened the door and a man, later identified as Aranguren, ran by him saying “get out of my way,” according to an arrest report.

The suspect tried to enter another vehicle in the driveway but was unsuccessful because the doors were locked, deputies were told. The would-be burglar banged on the window several times, ran to another vehicle and drove way.

Not long after, deputies were called to a second location, this time within the Ocala city limits, where they were told someone matching the description of the burglar was being detained at gunpoint by a citizen.

In that second case, the victim, who did not want to be identified, told a Star-Banner reporter that she was upstairs in her home when her sister-in-law told her that a man was inside the home.

The woman said she ran downstairs to find a man, later identified as Aranguren, typing on a laptop. She said the intruder told her more than once that it was his home. She said she told him it was not his home, and she grabbed a Keltec handgun.

The woman said she ordered the stranger to leave, which he did. The woman followed him outside and saw him entering two vehicles that were parked on the property. She said she told him to get out of the vehicles.

She continued to hold the man at gunpoint until law enforcement officials arrived.

Authorities identified Aranguren as the person responsible for both sets of break-ins. He was arrested and taken to a local hospital to be evaluated. Once cleared, he was transported to the jail.

Florida Bar records show Aranguren was admitted to the Bar in October 2009 and does not have a disciplinary history within the past decade. His legal work is in civil litigation, debtor and creditor, family, real estate and bankruptcy.

He is listed as a managing partner at the DA Firm, 725 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Suite 1, Ocala, and is considered a member in good standing, according to the Bar.

John Lance Armstrong, 515 N. Flagler Drive, Suite P300, West Palm Beach, public reprimand and payment of restitution of $5,000 with attendance at The Florida Bar’s Ethics School effective immediately following an April 1 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1979)

Armstrong accepted a $5,000 fee and undertook representation of a client in a civil case and after filing the complaint took little or no significant action in the case.

The case was eventually dismissed for lack of prosecution.

(Case No: SC21-390)

Francine Blair Bogumil, 8950 Della Scala Cir., Orlando, suspended effective 30 days following a February 3 court order and following a March 31 court order.

A referee was ordered to recommend discipline. (Admitted to practice: 2006)

On January 26, Bogumil pled nolo contendre to three felonies and four misdemeanors. On March 25, Bogumil pled nolo contendre to three counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, third-degree felonies.

(Case Nos: SC21-150 and SC21-481)

Florida lawyer jailed after ramming SUV into ex-husband’s house, spitting on deputy

May 13, 2021

A Florida lawyer has been jailed after ramming her SUV into her ex-husband’s home, threatening to kill his girlfriend and spitting on a sheriff’s deputy, according to a report.

Francine Blair Bogumil, 40, drove her Land Rover into the back of a GMC Yukon parked in her ex-husband’s driveway on April 30, 2020, at around 3 a.m., the Miami Herald reported, citing court documents. She had left her 5-year-old and 11-year-old children alone at her house.

The force slammed the Yukon into her ex-husband’s garage door, pushing the door inward about 2 to 3 feet, according to the documents.

When Bogumil’s ex-husband came out of his home, he witnessed her throwing objects at his girlfriend’s BMW and breaking its windows, the report said. He told deputies he called 911 and attempted to get between Bogumil and his girlfriend, saying that he slapped Bogumil once after she slapped him twice.

Bogumil joined the Florida bar in 2006. She has since been suspended and a judge recommended her permanent disbarment.
(Orange County Corrections)

Bogumil reportedly yelled at the girlfriend,

“I will kill you, b—-!”

When an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy arrived and told her to stop shouting, Bogumil said,

“No. F— you!” and spat on him,

the report said.

Days after her arrest, Bogumil posted bond and contacted her ex-husband and his girlfriend via text messages, violating a restraining order, according to court documents.

The report alleged that Bogumil told the girlfriend that

“next is your mom and pops. I’d back the f— off if I were u. Just saying. You’ve been warned to stay away from my kids.”

She was also accused of making missing person fliers for her two kids with a picture of the ex-husband.

One of Bogumil’s text messages to the ex-husband read: “You can blame yourself because I’m JUST getting started with the ways I can ruin u…I WILL f— up your world up unless you surrender. I’m not backing down this time. S—- bout to get ugly.”

Bogumil was charged with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of assault on a law enforcement officer, one count of domestic violence battery, two counts of violating a domestic violence restraining order, and two counts of criminal mischief.

She will serve 51 weeks in the Orange County Jail after pleading no contest to the charges.

Bogumil has since been suspended from the bar, with Judge Daryl Jay Isenhower recommending her permanent disbarment.

Chris R. Borgia, 4000 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Suite 470, Coral Gables, suspended for 18 months effective 30 days following an April 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002)

Borgia neglected four different clients in their representation for Social Security benefits.

Borgia failed to communicate with his clients, failed to appear at hearings or appeared unprepared, often failed to waive fees and withdraw from the Social Security Administration after being terminated by the clients, failed to promptly return unused costs deposits to clients, and failed to keep those funds for costs in his trust account.

(Case No: SC20-1295)

John Daneil Ellis, Jr., P.O. Box 1161, Orlando, disbarred effective immediately following an April 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1990)

While Ellis was suspended from the practice of law, he agreed to provide legal assistance to an individual who lived out-of-state and needed an attorney.

Ellis agreed to prepare and file the necessary documents for the individual to probate his deceased mother’s estate. Although Ellis told this individual that he was not practicing law at the time, Ellis did not disclose that he was suspended from the practice of law due to misconduct and was not allowed to provide the individual with any legal services or advice.

Ellis prepared the documents, sent them to the individual for signature, and explained to the individual how and where to send the documents for filing.

(Case No: SC19-384)

Diego Handel, 149 South Ridgewood Ave., Suite 220, Daytona Beach, disbarred and held in contempt effective immediately following an April 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984)

Handel continued engaging in the practice of law after having been disbarred by order of the Supreme Court of Florida dated May 30, 2019.

(Case No: SC21-170)

SO MANY LIES, FLORIDA BAR

Aaron Patrick Honaker, 33 N.E. 4th St., Miami, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective April 19 following an April 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008).

Honaker was charged with three counts of attempted bank robbery and two counts of bank robbery.

(Case No: SC21-116)

Attorney-turned-serial bank robber quit job, was homeless, confesses to crimes

Oct 23, 2020

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Coral Gables attorney turned bank robber carried a ball-peen hammer in his waistband and a composition style, green notebook with several different demand notes during a spree of hitting 5 banks in about 3 weeks, according to a criminal complaint released in federal court in the United States of America v. Aaron Patrick Honaker.

Honaker confessed to five bank robberies committed mostly in Coral Gables, except for one in Aventura, between the dates of Sept. 30 and Oct. 18.

During Honaker’s bond hearing on Friday, a federal judge deemed him a flight risk and, because of that, he remains in jail.

Prosecutors said the 41-year-old lawyer quit his job and told authorities he was broke and desperate.

Authorities said that Honaker was homeless and prior to that, he had traveled the world visiting several countries including Colombia where he met his fiancé. He had planned on returning to Colombia, he told them.

During the robberies, prosecutors said Honaker would enter a bank and give a note to a teller demanding cash. He was only able to get money in two incidents, which totaled about $1,800, according to investigators.

He later told investigators that he carried the ball-peen hammer with him during the robberies to escape any glass “mantraps” triggered by bank security. They also found a green notebook, which had instructions inside on how to commit a bank robbery and four, folded notes with demands to tellers.

Here are the banks, dates and details from criminal complaint.

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020: Citibank, Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables. At 3 p.m., a subject now identified as Honaker, entered the bank and sat in the lobby where he waited approximately 15 minutes before approaching a teller. He handed her a note that read: “Don’t touch the alarm or call police.” The note also asked for money. No money was taken after the teller told Honaker that they “did not have money, it is in the machine.” He left the bank, taking his note with him, according to the complaint.

Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020: Chase Bank, 20880 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura. Honaker entered the bank at 1:55 p.m. and approached a teller saying that he wanted to make a withdrawal but that he did not have his debit card with him. He handed the teller a note that he said would provide instructions on how to withdraw the money. The note said: “Empty all of your 50s and 100s and put it in an envelope.” He was able to get $1,050 in that heist.

Monday, Oct. 5, 2020: Wells Fargo Bank, 2555 Ponce De Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables. At approximately 3:53 p.m., Coral Gables Police received a 911 call for a bank robbery in progress at the Wells Fargo Bank. 10 minutes prior to the call, Honaker had stood in the customer line and then approached the teller. He used the same debit card m.o. telling the bank employee that he would give her a note of how he wanted his cash. “He handed her a note that said “Keep calm, and give me all the money in the drawer, I have a gun.” The teller said she could not read English and would have to get her manager. At that point, he left the bank on foot, according to the affidavit.

Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020: Chase Bank, 355 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables. At 1:54 p.m., Honaker approached a teller and presented a demand note. He said to provide only “50s and 100s.” He was able to obtain $800.

Monday, Oct. 15, 2020: HSBC Bank, 2222 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables. Around 4:49 p.m., the subject entered bank, went to a teller station, then opened a composition-style notebook. He pulled a paper note and handed it to the teller. Without realizing what the note was, the teller asked the man to fill out a withdrawal slip first because she needed an account number. The subject, alleged to be Honaker, walked over to a service counter and wrote on the withdrawal slip, then went back to the teller. On the withdrawal slip, he wrote “read the note.” The teller told the man that the bank kept its cash in counting machines and she could not provide any money. The subject left.

Honaker was arrested on Tuesday, Oct. 20 in the Coral Gables area.

Honaker was arrested on Tuesday, Oct. 20 in the Coral Gables area.

According to Wake Forest University Law School’s registrar office, Honaker received his Juris Doctor degree there on Dec. 10, 2005. State records show he was admitted to the Florida Bar on Jan. 31, 2008, and is a member in good standing.

At the beginning of his career, Honaker was recruited by a top international law firm in Brickell and he worked there for about three years. Colleagues at boutique firms in Coral Gables described him as a “highly intelligent” and “brilliant” attorney who is “disciplined” and “sharp.”

Colleen E. Huott, 2385 N.W. Executive Center Dr., Suite 100, Boca Raton, was suspended effective 30 days following an April 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005)

That’s been upgraded to a disbarment on April 20.

In eight separate Bar matters, Huott did not show good cause for her failure to respond to multiple official Bar inquiries.

(Case No: SC21-96)

Stephen Michael Jones, 390 N. Orange Ave., Suite 2300, Orlando, disbarred effective immediately following an April 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2015)

On November 9, 2020, Jones was emergency suspended by the Florida Supreme Court for misappropriating trust funds and for abandoning his law practice.

LIF COMMENT: $100,000+ IN FUNDS STOLEN: WHY’S HE NOT IN JAIL?

Jones subsequently failed to respond to the Bar’s Petition for Emergency Suspension and failed to appear for the sanction hearing.

A petition for emergency suspension is granted by the Florida Supreme Court when The Florida Bar presents clear and convincing evidence that a lawyer appears to be causing great public harm (see Rule 3-5.2(a)) and also constitutes a formal complaint so that the matter is fully investigated and final disciplinary action is ordered. (Case No: SC20-1593)

EXTRACT OF BAR REPORT RE ONE COMPLAINANT’S LOSS

“The bank records for respondent’s Bank of America trust account showed that the settlement check for Mr. Beardsley’s $100,000.00 settlement was deposited into the trust account on May 15, 2019. The endorsement on the back of the settlement check appeared to match respondent’s signature. Bar Exhibits 7, 10- 17.

The bar’s auditor determined that the entire $100,000.00 settlement was depleted over the next six months in a series of cash withdrawals, a transfer to another Bank of America account, a cashier’s check payable to Stephen M. Jones Law Firm PLLC, and a Venmo payment with the reference “Stephen Jones.””

Megan Olivia Kifer, 110 Front St., Suite 300, Jupiter, disbarred and payment of restitution effective immediately following an April 1 court order.

Kifer was emergency suspended by the Florida Supreme Court on October 28, 2020, with the imposed suspension effective within 30 days of that order. (Admitted to practice: 2016)

Kifer was hired to assist with paying expenses on behalf of a beneficiary of a Special Needs Trust and other tasks. Instead, Kifer misappropriated $8,194.53.

Kifer also misled the Bar during their investigation and was otherwise uncooperative.

Kifer had been previously emergency suspended by the Florida Supreme Court.

A petition for emergency suspension is granted by the Florida Supreme Court when The Florida Bar presents clear and convincing evidence that a lawyer appears to be causing great public harm (see Rule 3-5.2(a)) and also constitutes a formal complaint so that the matter is fully investigated and final disciplinary action is ordered. (Case No: SC20-1354)

Jeremiah J. Talbott, 900 E. Moreno St., Pensacola, suspended for 60 days and ordered to attend Professionalism Workshop and Ethics School effective 30 days following an April 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998)

Talbott was hired to represent a client in a federal case under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In an order denying Talbott’s motion for attorney fees from the opposing party, the federal court found that Talbott pursued the litigation in bad faith and engaged in frivolous filings during the proceedings to obtain higher attorney fees.

Talbott was charged with conducting frivolous litigation, failing to expedite litigation, filing exaggerated billing sheets with the court, as well as extensive and unnecessary discovery to increase attorney fees when there was no dispute of damages between the parties resulting in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. (Case No: SC20-1612)

Jeremiah “J.J.” Talbott

Principal Attorney

B.A. from University of West Florida (1994)
J.D. from Samford University, Cumberland School of Law (1997)

Practice Areas:

Personal Injury Workers’ Compensation Wage and Hour Criminal Defense Social Security Discrimination (ADA/Employment/FMLA) Domestic/Family Law Employment Law and General Civil Litigation

Jeremiah “JJ” Talbott is the founding partner of the Law Office of JJ Talbott, P.A. and concentrates his practice in the areas of personal injury, workers’ compensation, unpaid wages and overtime, wrongful termination, Social Security Disability, Family and Medical Leave Act, Divorce/Family law, probate, and general civil litigation.

JJ was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1972 and moved to Pensacola, Florida in 1974. He graduated from J.M. Tate High School in 1990 and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of West Florida in 1994. In 1997, he received his Juris Doctorate from Samford University, Cumberland School of Law. While in law school, he was a member of the Trial Advocacy Board, member of the ABA National Trial Team, and nominated Best Advocate in the ABA National Trial Competition.

JJ is a member of both the Florida Bar (since 1998) and Alabama Bar (since 1997).

He is also admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida; United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida; United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida; United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama; and United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.

He is also a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association (Florida Chapter), Worker’s Compensation Section of the Florida Bar, and a member of the Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association.

JJ has also served on numerous bar association committees including the Executive Counsel of the Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association (2007-2008), the Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee of the Florida Bar (chairman District A) (2004-2006), and the Community Service Committee of the Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association (Co-Chairman 2001-2007).

In 2012, JJ became a lifetime member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. The Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States.

Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

JJ lives in Pensacola with his wife and 2 children.

OPERATIVE COMPLAINT

The Florida Bar, complainant, files this Complaint against Jeremiah J. Talbott, respondent, pursuant to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and alleges:

1. Respondent is and was, at all times mentioned herein, a member of The Florida Bar admitted on October 5, 1998, and is subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Florida.

2. Respondent resided and practiced law in Escambia County, Florida, at all times material to this complaint.

3. The First Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee “A” found probable cause to file this complaint pursuant to R. Regulating Fla. Bar 3-7.4, and this complaint has been approved by the presiding member of that committee.

4. In February 2017, Christopher Moss (Mr. Moss) hired respondent to represent him against Pav’R Construction Inc. (PRC), and the owner Michael J. Breton (Mr. Breton), for withholding his final paycheck.

5. Mr. Moss had worked as a driver-operator for four months for PRC at $16.00 an hour which was more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

6. In January 2017, Mr. Moss was informed by PRC that he had broken numerous pieces of company equipment worth thousands of dollars and that he would need to reimburse the company for that damage. In response, Mr. Moss walked off the job and quit.

7. PRC, a small business with three to five employees, withheld his wages for 34.25 hours of work to compensate them for a small part of the broken equipment. This action by PRC technically meant that Mr. Moss was paid less than the minimum wage for one pay period, and PRC had violated a federal statute, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

8. The withheld wages totaled $248.31 and, even if it was determined that PRC had willfully violated the federal statute, Mr. Moss would be owed a total of $496.62 by PRC.

If Mr. Moss prevailed, the FSLA provided for reasonable attorney’s fees.

9. On June 14, 2017, respondent filed a federal lawsuit against Mr. Breton, PRC, and a second company owned by Mr. Breton, Pav’R Construction of Pensacola (PRCP) alleging that Mr. Breton and his two companies had violated the FLSA’s minimum wage provision.

10. On September 18, 2017, the complaint was served, but the complaint drawn up by respondent was unclear about the fact that the dispute concerned only one paycheck.

11. PRCP, which operated solely out of Mississippi, had never employed Mr. Moss and should never have been sued in the lawsuit.

12. Nevertheless, respondent kept PRCP in the federal lawsuit even after both Mr. Breton and Mr. Moss were deposed in March 2018.

Mr. Breton testified that Mr. Moss had never worked for PCRP and Mr. Moss testified he did not know why PRCP had been sued in the first place.

13. On April 30, 2018, defendant PRCP moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it had never employed Mr. Moss.

14. Respondent filed a nine-page response with 47 pages of exhibits to the summary judgment motion.

15. At the end of his response to the summary judgment motion, respondent admitted he did not disagree with PRCP’s position and concluded that the claims against PRCP should be dismissed.

16. The federal court granted PRCP’s motion for summary judgment and the company was dismissed from the case on June 20, 2018.

17. On January 19, 2018, after prior offers were rejected or ignored, Mr.

Breton and PRC served Mr. Moss with an Offer of Judgment under Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure via hand delivery agreeing to a judgment of $496.62 plus reasonable attorney fees and costs to be entered against the defendants.

18. Respondent failed to respond to the Offer of Judgment within 14 days, therefore, by operation of the rule it was “considered withdrawn.”

19. The federal lawsuit proceeded for several months with respondent conducting an enormous amount of discovery by way of interrogatories, requests for production, and about nine depositions.

20. On May 1, 2018, plaintiff filed a 31-page motion for summary judgment with 90 pages of exhibits, requesting final judgment in the amount of
$496.62 on the minimum wage claim against Mr. Breton and PRC, and indicating that there would be a request for attorney fees as the prevailing party.

21. Even though defendants, Mr. Breton and PRC, agreed to pay the $496.62 in their response, respondent filed a 10-page response repeating the same request as in his motion for summary judgment in the same amount of $496.62.

22. In an Order dated June 20, 2018, the federal court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and stipulated damages of $496.62.

23. In that same Order, however, the federal court specifically informed respondent that, as to a motion for attorney fees, since Mr. Breton and PRC had stipulated to a judgment against them for that exact amount of damages, the federal court would not entertain more than a nominal fee award, if anything at all.

24. Under Rule 68, Mr. Breton and PRC filed a motion for post-offer costs in the amount of $1,133.54 that was unopposed and granted by the court on November 2, 2018.

25. Respondent filed a motion requesting $28,351.00 in attorney’s fees incurred in recovering $496.62 for his client.

26. The defendants, Mr. Breton and PRC vigorously opposed the motion for attorney fees on the grounds that respondent had acted in “bad faith” and was engaged in “churning” fees.

27. In its Order dated November 2, 2018, the federal court concluded that respondent’s “unprofessional conduct shocks the conscience of the court, and he will be awarded no attorney fees. A ‘reasonable fee’ in this case is no fee.”

28. The federal court reasoned that respondent was not entitled to collect any attorney fees after the Rule 68 Offer of Judgment was ignored by respondent, nor was he entitled to any attorney fees that predated the Rule 68 Offer of Judgment because respondent “filed and pursued the litigation in bad faith,” and “was churning the file to prolong the litigation and run up his attorney fees.”

29. The federal court emphasized that less than two months after answering the complaint and one month after the parties planning meeting, on January 5, 2018, Mr. Breton and PRC agreed to pay the maximum damages of
$496.62 plus $2,000.00 in attorney fees, which would have benefitted not only Mr. Breton and PRC but also respondent’s client and the federal court, but not respondent’s ability to generate higher fees.

30. From January 5, 2018, forward, there was no dispute over the amount of damages owed to respondent’s client, only the amount of the attorney fees claimed by respondent to settle the lawsuit.

31. Respondent had filed a vague, pro forma complaint, a Motion for Default that was unnecessary if he had responded to Mr. Breton’s September 25, 2017, letter, and appeared at the parties’ planning meeting. Yet, respondent claimed that as of January 5, 2018, that he was entitled to $7,100.00 in attorney fees for these simple legal tasks.

32. Respondent exaggerated the amount of fees owed by claiming that he did numerous secretarial and paralegal tasks at his $350.00 per hour legal rate rather than delegating those tasks to his legal staff.

33. Respondent’s claims against PRCP were frivolous and nonmeritorious because, even though he knew, or should have known, that his client had no claim against this second corporation, he failed to dismiss PRCP as a party to the lawsuit.

34. Respondent’s failure to dismiss PRCP as a party required Mr.

Breton’s attorney to move and obtain summary judgment from the court on June 18, 2018, after a frivolous and nonmeritorious response to the motion for summary judgment by respondent.

35. Respondent filed extensive and frivolous discovery requests that were prejudicial to the opposing party running up fees on both sides when he knew, or should have known, that there was no dispute of damages owed to his client.

36. While respondent knew, or should have known, that there was no dispute of damages, nevertheless, he filed a frivolous 31-page motion for summary judgment on his client’s wage claim of $496.62 and a 9-page reply, even though Mr. Breton’s response stipulated to the amount of damages.

37. Respondent failed to expedite litigation when he continued to ignore the opposing party’s settlement offers, including the Rule 68 Offer of Judgment, and scheduled unnecessary and frivolous discovery to delay the proceedings and to increase his attorney fees.

38. Respondent misrepresented to Mr. Breton’s attorney that he wanted to settle the case, and, at the planning meeting on December 13, 2017, he advised Mr. Breton’s attorney that he had not communicated defendants’ offer of settlement to his client.

The time sheets submitted to the court to support his fee request, however, showed that he had drafted a letter to his client about the settlement offer on November 22, 2017.

The court noted that this representation to opposing counsel was not true.

39. Respondent was not candid with the court in his submissions.

He filed a Motion for Default alleging that Mr. Breton had submitted no answer to his complaint when Mr. Breton had sent respondent a letter dated September 25, 2017, explaining that Mr. Moss was paid $16.00 an hour which was more than the minimum wage.

40. Respondent filed billing sheets with the court to support his motion for attorney fees and costs which exaggerated the number of hours spent on the case.

41. Respondent alleged that he called Mr. Breton’s attorney at the beginning of February 2018, after the Rule 68 Offer of Judgment expired and advised that he did not accept the Rule 68 offer because he had “misplaced” it in the office mail. Mr. Breton’s attorney denied that he ever discussed the matter by telephone with respondent.

42. Respondent failed to respect the rights of Mr. Breton, PRCP and PRC by delaying the dismissal of PRCP from the litigation and by burdening Mr. Breton and PRC with unnecessary legal fees to defend himself and his corporations from suit.

43. Respondent’s actions throughout the proceedings were prejudicial to the administration of justice.

44. By reason of the foregoing, respondent has violated the following Rules Regulating The Florida Bar:

3-4.3(Misconduct and Minor Misconduct),

4-3.1(Meritorious Claims and Contentions),

4-3.2(Expedite Litigation),

4-3.3 (Candor Towards Tribunal),

4-3.4(Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel),

4-4.4(Respect for the Rights of Third Persons),

4-8.4(c)(Misrepresentation),

and 4-8.4(d)(Conduct Prejudicial to the Administration of Justice).

WHEREFORE, The Florida Bar respectfully requests that respondent be appropriately disciplined in accordance with the provisions of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar as amended.

Robert Louis Thirston II, 19211 Panama City Beach Pkwy., PMB 220, Panama City Beach, public reprimand effective immediately following an April 22 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008)

Thirston was held in contempt of the court’s orders dated September 6, 2019, and March 26, 2020, and failed to submit the sworn affidavits pursuant to Rule 3-5.1(h), which were ultimately filed with the court, albeit untimely. (Case No: SC20-865)

The Florida Bar suspends local attorney

Apr 30, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WMBB) — The Florida Bar announced on Thursday, local attorney Robert Louis Thirston II, of Panama City Beach, has been suspended for two years, retroactive to October 6, 2019.

The Florida Bar, an extension of the Supreme Court, suspended Thirston for failing to maintain trust accounting records and procedures, combining funds, and then not responding to the Bar or a subpoena to provide trust accounting records to the Florida Bar.

He was also ordered to attend ethics school by a court order on March 26.

The Bar requires attorneys suspended for 91 days or longer to prove rehabilitation in order to regain their law licenses.

The Florida Bar disciplined 23 other Florida attorneys, disbarring three, revoking the license of two, reprimanding three, and suspending 15. See the full list here.

Thirston attended the Appalachian School of Law and was admitted to practice in 2008. His practice areas included criminal, guardianship, international taxation, labor and employment and tax law.

News 13 has reached out to Thirston for comment on the matter, he has not yet responded.

Oanh Kim Tran, 16105 N. Florida Ave., Lutz, public reprimand and suspended effective immediately following an April 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2014)

Tran failed to respond to The Florida Bar’s requests regarding two pending Florida Bar complaints.

Tran admits she has not responded to the Bar complaints.

LIF UPDATE; She’s agreed to be revoked on the basis of ability to reapply in five years. Thievin’ lawyer Kim Tran should be incarcerated, not negotiating her Bar license via a former GOP Chairman.

(Case No: SC21-99)

PETITION FOR DISCIPLINARY REVOCATION WITH LEAVE TO APPLY FOR READMISSION

PETITIONER, Oanh Kim Tran, and submits this Petition for Disciplinary Revocation pursuant to Rule Regulating Fla. Bar 3- 7.12 and states:

1. Petitioner knowingly and voluntarily submits this petition with leave to reapply for readmission with full knowledge of its effect.

2. Petitioner is 33 years old and has been a member of The Florida Bar since September 23, 2014 and is subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Florida and the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

3. Petitioner has the following discipline history:

A. The Florida Bar v. Tran, SC21-169 [TFB File No.2020-10,048 (13F) (HES)]

The Petitioner was placed on emergency suspension pursuant to a Supreme Court of Florida order dated February 9, 2021, based upon an allegation of the misappropriation of client trust funds.

4. The following disciplinary charges are currently pending against the Petitioner:

A. The Florida Bar File No. 2020-10,048 (13F):

It is alleged that petitioner has misappropriated at least $87,773.85 of client funds and has altered bank statements to hide her defalcations.

These allegations led to the February 9, 2021 order of emergency suspension and this case is currently pending before a referee and designated as Supreme Court case number SC 21-169

B. The Florida Bar File No. 2021-10,230(13F):

This matter is currently pending before a grievance committee and concerns allegations of the misappropriation of client funds.

C. The Florida Bar File No. 2021-10,363 (13F) (OSC):

Pending before this Court, as Supreme Court of Florida case number SC21-99, is a contempt proceeding wherein the Bar seeks to compel the submission of written responses to pending grievances.

D. The Florida Bar File No 20121-424 (13F):

This matter is pending at staff level and concerns allegations of the misappropriation of client funds.

5. The Petitioner makes no admission as to the factual matters referenced above but agrees there is a factual predicate to support disciplinary sanction and that a disciplinary revocation is warranted herein.

6. Petitioner contends that granting this Petition will not adversely affect the public interest, the integrity of the courts, or the confidence of the public in the legal profession. Further, Petitioner contends that granting this Petition will not hinder the administration of justice.

LIF COMMENT: OF COURSE IT WILL – IS THERE A CRIMINAL REFERRAL IN THIS MATTER?

7. Petitioner agrees to reimburse the Client Security Fund (CSF) for any and all funds CSF has paid or may pay out for claims resulting from Petitioner’s misconduct.

8. Petitioner agrees to reimburse The Florida Bar for the reasonable costs incurred in her disciplinary cases.

9. Petitioner agrees to submit to a complete audit of any trust account(s) and any other account(s) in which Petitioner has placed client funds, if requested to do so by The Florida Bar.

10. Petitioner further agrees to submit a sworn financial affidavit to The Florida Bar attesting to Petitioner’s current personal and professional financial circumstances on a form to be provided by The Florida Bar within thirty (30) days, if requested.

11. Petitioner further agrees to maintain a current mailing address with The Florida Bar for a period of five (5) years after the disciplinary revocation becomes final. Further, Petitioner shall keep the bar advised as to the physical address of Petitioner’s home and/or business in the event Petitioner should utilize a post office box or other type of mail drop service during the five (5) year period after the disciplinary revocation becomes final.

12. Petitioner agrees to eliminate all indicia of petitioner’s status as an attorney on social media, telephone listings, stationery, checks, business cards office signs or any other indicia of his status as an attorney, whatsoever. Petitioner will no longer hold herself out as a licensed attorney.

13. Petitioner understands that the granting of this petition by the Supreme Court of Florida shall serve to dismiss all pending disciplinary cases.

WHEREFORE, The Petitioner, Oanh Kim Tran, respectfully requests that this Court enter an Order granting this request for the disciplinary revocation of his admission to The Florida Bar, with leave to reapply, on the grounds and for the reasons hereinabove set forth and for the entry of any other and further orders as this Court may deem proper under the circumstances.

Oanh Kim Tran

c/ o Kevin P. Tynan Esq.
Richardson & Tynan, P.L.C.
8142 N. University Dr.
Tamarac,
Florida
33321-1708
Florida Bar ID No.: 112235
kim@oanhlaw.com

Law Firm Bio

Kim Oanh Tran earned her law degree from Nova Southeastern University College of Law, with a concentration in International Law, after earning her Bachelor’s of Science in Legal Studies with a Business and Psychology double-minor. She is licensed to practice in the State of Florida in the Southern District and state courts.

Additionally, Ms. Tran has been an active member in the Vietnamese Communities at both the State and National levels for the past 12 years.

Her efforts began with the Vietnamese Community of Central Florida after winning her title as Miss Vietnam Florida 2006.

Most recently, the Vietnamese Community of South Florida has appointed her as General Counsel for the 2016-2018 term.

Ms. Tran is a Vietnamese American born and raised in Orlando, FL who speaks, reads, and writes in Vietnamese. She brings a unique perspective and exceptional skillset to her cases.

Prior to joining Berman & Berman, Ms. Tran was the Principal of her own private practice assisting local and international clients.

“My goals with forming this association is to better serve the legal interests of our community by providing legal services in all areas of law across the entire state of Florida”.

ALL THE FEDERAL CHIEF JUDGES JUDGIN' JUDGES

Richard Lamar Williams, 8451 S.W. 72nd Ter., Miami, disciplinary revocation without leave to seek readmission effective 30 days following an April 15 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1972)

Williams was charged and pled guilty to the federal offense of conspiracy to transmit an interstate communication with intent to extort.

(Case No: SC21-137)

Florida Attorney Admits Role in $7.5 Million Bank Extortion Scheme

DEC 1, 2020

NEWARK, N.J. – A Florida attorney today admitted his role in a scheme to extort $7.5 million from a California bank, Attorney for the United States Rachael A. Honig announced.

Richard L. Williams, 73, of Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with conspiracy to transmit an interstate communication with the intent to extort.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Beginning in May 2020, Williams and his client (Client-1) conspired to extort $7.5 million from a commercial bank headquartered in California (Bank-1).

Williams threatened Bank-1 that if it did not pay Client-1 $7.5 million, Client-1 would publicly disclose that Client-1 had accessed and obtained certain confidential data from the bank that did not belong to Client-1 and that Client-1 was not authorized to retain.

On June 18, 2020, Williams sent an email to an attorney for Bank-1 that attached a proposed agreement that Bank-1 had not requested.

The agreement – titled “Settlement, Assistance, and Confidentiality Agreement” – provided for Bank-1 to pay Client-1 approximately $7.5 million as a “settlement, assistance and confidentiality fee” within 48 hours of signing the agreement.

The payment was purportedly in exchange for Client-1 serving for one week as an “advisor” to Bank-1, a service that Bank-1 had not requested, and agreeing not to publicize confidential Bank-1 data that Client-1 had accessed and obtained.

The agreement was designed to conceal that Williams and Client-1 were extorting Bank-1.

From July through August 2020, Williams also engaged in a series of telephone conversations with an undercover law enforcement agent (UC-1) who Williams believed was a representative of Bank-1 located in New Jersey, with authority to transfer funds to Williams.

During a telephone call with UC-1 on July 24, 2020, Williams warned UC-1 that if Bank-1 did not pay Client-1 it should “fear” that Client-1 might reveal to various third parties that Client-1 had accessed and obtained the confidential data from Bank-1 or issue a press release disclosing that information.

Williams also implied that if Bank-1 refused to accede to his demands and pay Client-1, there may be violent consequences from third parties unrelated to Williams.

Williams warned UC-1 that “FBI agents were murdered a couple of blocks from where [he was] sitting,” and that if Williams were in Bank-1’s position, “what would scare the [expletive] out of [him] would be” the reaction of those third parties to the public revelation of Client-1’s access and retention of the data.

The charge to which Williams pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross grain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. Williams’s sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2021.

Attorney for the United States Honig credited the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott Lampert; Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Hegarty; the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher F. Algieri; and special agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean M. Sherman and Bernard J. Cooney, Acting Chief of the Opioid Abuse Prevention & Enforcement, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

As an official arm of 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 108,000 members of The Florida Bar. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. Information on the discipline system and how to file a complaint are available at www.floridabar.org/attorneydiscipline.

Court orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline. Disbarred lawyers may not re-apply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the Bar exam. 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.

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Florida

Florida Supreme Court Shirk Florida Bar

The Florida Bar filed a formal complaint against Matt Shirk at request of the Florida Supreme Court, which rejected a conditional guilty plea.

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Referee appointed to review Florida Bar complaint against Matt Shirk

Case stems from alleged ethics violations from Shirk’s tenure as Public Defender for the Fourth Circuit

JUL 1, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUL 22, 2021

A court-appointed referee is reviewing the Florida Bar’s complaint against former Fourth Circuit Public Defender Matt Shirk and could recommend potential sanctions for him, according to court records.

The Florida Bar filed a formal complaint against Shirk at the request of the Florida Supreme Court, which rejected a conditional guilty plea the former public defender entered earlier this year to resolve alleged ethics violations that occurred while he held public office.

Chief Judge Raul Zambrano of the Seventh Judicial Circuit was appointed to serve as referee and investigate the contents of the Bar’s complaint by hearing witnesses and reviewing evidence. If the referee recommends guilt, he will also recommend appropriate sanctions. Barring an extension, Zambrano has until Oct. 11 to submit his findings.

The court proceedings stem from Shirk’s time in office as public defender from 2009 to 2017.

Among other things, Shirk was accused of hiring three young women outside of normal hiring practices and later firing them to save his marriage. He was also accused of serving or consuming alcohol in a city building, and of revealing privileged client information to a film crew.

Those accusations led to a grand jury investigation whose findings were sent to the Florida Commission on Ethics, which resulted in public censure, reprimand and a $6,000 fine. The ethics commission found Shirk’s conduct violated ethics rules relating to professional behavior.

In February, Shirk agreed to enter a conditional guilty plea in which he admitted violating several rules of the Florida Bar, including the Rules of Professional Conduct, in exchange for a six-month suspension from practicing law. The state Supreme Court rejected the conditional plea and ordered the Bar to file a formal complaint against Shirk.

Court records show a case management conference is set for July 9.

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Eleventh Circuit

Southern Florida Judge Orders Retrial for Fraud by Prosecutors. It Wasn’t Lyin’ Judge Marra

Judge Darrin P. Gayles claims during a court hearing the original prosecutors “deliberately misled this court.” He orders a new AUSA team.

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July 16, 2021: S.D. Fl. Judge Orders New Trial After AUSAs ‘Deliberately Misled’ Him

A Florida federal judge said Friday he would be ordering a new trial — with a new prosecution team — for a trio of men found guilty of swiping millions of dollars from elderly people in a sweepstakes scheme, saying during a hearing that the original prosecutors “deliberately misled this court.”

A federal judge in Miami has ordered a new trial for three men found guilty in a fraudulent sweepstakes scheme after concluding that federal prosecutors had “knowingly invaded the defense camp” while lying to the court about it.

U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles of the Southern District of Florida said two initial prosecutors in the case “deliberately misled this court.”

Law360 and the Miami Herald have coverage of Gayles’ remarks, made during a hearing Friday.

Gayles said he had allowed the three Florida men to be tried without knowing the extent of prosecutors’ alleged wrongdoing, according to the coverage.

Prosecutors had received handwritten notes from a fourth defendant who attended defense meetings without disclosing that he had obtained a plea deal with prosecutors, Gayles said during the hearing. The other defendants were working together under a joint defense agreement.

The fourth defendant, 53-year-old John Leon of Wilton Manors, Florida, had received government authorization to attend strategy meetings. Yet prosecutors lied about whether Leon had attended more than one meeting and whether they approved his participation, Gayles said.

One of the federal prosecutors had countered in a court filing that Leon’s cooperation was “kept covert” because he was cooperating with the government against a noncharged defendant, according to the Miami Herald. The prosecutor also said Leon had been instructed not to share privileged information.

The Florida defendants—46-year-old Matthew Pisoni of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; 42-year-old Marcus Pradel of Boca Raton, Florida; and 39-year-old Victor Ramirez of Aventura, Florida—had been convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in 2017. They were accused of telling their scam victims that they had won a sweepstakes prize, and they had to pay $20 to $50 to redeem it.

The defendants sought a new trial after receiving new evidence obtained during an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office and the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

The government countered that much of the “newly discovered” evidence cited by the defendants wasn’t material and had no exculpatory value.

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Four South Florida Residents Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Commit Sweepstakes Mail Fraud

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUL 19, 2021

Four Florida residents were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 42 months imprisonment to 84 months imprisonment for participating in a sweepstakes mail fraud scheme.

Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Antonio J. Gomez, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, made the announcement.

Matthew Pisoni, 44, of Fort Lauderdale, Marcus Pradel, 41, of Boca Raton, and Victor Ramirez, 38, of Aventura, were found guilty of conspiring to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, after a five-week trial that ended on July 26, 2017. John Leon, 50, of Fort Lauderdale, previously pled guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

Today, United States District Court Judge Gayles sentenced Pisoni and Ramirez to 84 months imprisonment; Pradel to 78 months imprisonment; and Leon to 42 months imprisonment.

The trial evidence established that the four defendants, Pisoni, Pradel, Ramirez and Leon, falsely notified individuals by mail that they had won a substantial prize. The letters the defendants sent fraudulently represented that the recipients needed to pay a fee ranging from $20 to $50 to the defendants in order to redeem their purported winnings. During the course of the mail fraud conspiracy, more than 100,000 victims in the United States and abroad were fraudulently induced to pay the fees by the defendants’ misleading claims that they had won a prize. The fraudulent letters directed victims to pay the fees in cash or by check or money order payable to fictitious companies. The defendants then either processed the victims’ payments through independent payment processors or deposited them into shell bank accounts controlled directly and indirectly by the defendants and their co-conspirators. In total, over $25 million in victim payments went into the defendants’ and co-conspirators’ bank accounts.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI, USPIS, Federal Trade Commission, Aventura Police Department, and other local and international law enforcement agencies. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elijah Levitt, and H. Ron Davidson.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

‘Breathtaking’ revelation delays start of prison term for men in $25M sweepstakes fraud

JAN 12, 2018 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUL 19, 2021

Three South Florida men convicted of operating a $25 million sweepstakes fraud were supposed to turn themselves in to start serving their punishments on Friday afternoon.

But a judge has agreed to delay their prison surrenders after what the defense calls outrageous last-minute revelations from federal prosecutors.

It’s the latest twist in a controversial case in which victims, mostly seniors, were tricked into sending money to claim a fictitious cash prize.

“The government has disclosed breathtaking new evidence … demonstrating that its witnesses testified falsely … and that the prosecutors made misleading arguments to the court,”

appeals attorney David Oscar Markus wrote in a court filing.

Matthew Pisoni, 45, of Fort Lauderdale, Marcus Pradel, 41, of Boca Raton, and Victor Ramirez, 38, of Aventura, were found guilty of mail fraud conspiracy after a jury trial last year. John Leon, 50, of Wilton Manors, pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2016 and cooperated with investigators.

Leon was going to testify against the other three men but U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles barred him from doing so in late 2016.

At the time, the judge also blasted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for allowing Leon to spy on his co-defendants — and their attorneys — after Leon had secretly made a plea deal with the prosecution.

The judge called the prosecution’s handling of the case “extraordinary.”

Judge blasts federal prosecutors over secret deal that led to spying on defense

“I don’t know what’s happening at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. This is the latest of a series of incidents that is affecting the credibility of this office,”

the judge said during the 2016 hearing.

“Someone has got to look at this thing … There’s a problem here that needs to be rectified in some way.”

Defense attorneys for the three men said they were blindsided by prosecutors and Leon’s defense attorney, Omar Johansson.

The problem was different from regular snitching by informants, they said, because all four men had pleaded not guilty in 2015 and, at the time, they and their attorneys had a formal agreement to work together and come up with defense strategies.

Anyone who wanted out was supposed to give 48 hours’ notice to the others.

The judge rejected their request to throw out the charges before trial because of what the defense called an illegal “invasion of the defense camp” by the prosecution.

During the 2016 hearing, prosecutors H. Ron Davidson and Elijah Levitt told the judge they had thought it was essential to keep Leon’s cooperation secret because he was working undercover for them on another related investigation.

They said they later regretted not running their decision up the chain of command at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami.

The judge said that, at a minimum, they should have told their bosses and asked for the judge’s explicit approval.

The prosecutors also told the judge at the hearing they had never received any documents from Leon.

The three men went to trial and were convicted, without Leon’s testimony.

Pisoni and Ramirez were sentenced to seven years in federal prison, Pradel to 6 ½ years and Leon to 3 ½ years. Leon is still expected to begin serving his sentence on Tuesday.

Judge Gayles agreed Thursday to let the other three men remain free until at least March 16. Their attorneys have requested a court hearing to find out more about the newly released information.

They may seek a new trial or use it on appeal.

Earlier this week — three days before the men were due to go to prison — prosecutors filed a court document saying they wanted to “correct” the record. They revealed that Leon gave prosecutor Levitt a document that they now believe may have been a chart or timeline — compiled for the defense by Pradel — which they had claimed they never received.

They now can’t find the document, they wrote.

“The government believes that this document may have been the timeline discussed during the hearings, but the government cannot be certain because the document was placed in a sealed file folder without being examined and no federal agent or Assistant United States Attorney has ever opened the sealed file folder and read the document contained therein,”

they wrote.

“Moreover, Assistant United States Attorney Levitt has exhaustively searched his office’s records but has been unable to locate the sealed file folder with the document.”

Prosecutors, who previously said in court they had rejected Leon’s offer of the chart, also revealed that Leon gave handwritten notes to an IRS agent.

Pisoni, the son-in-law of the late self-help guru Wayne Dyer, was the ringleader of the fraud, according to prosecutors.

Markus, the attorney handling Pisoni’s appeal, declined to comment on the legal aspects of the case.

Pisoni returned home when he learned of the two-month reprieve on Thursday after he had already taken a flight to New Orleans on his way to surrender at his designated prison, Markus said.

The new filing raises more questions than it answers and calls “into question the credibility of the government’s presentation, witnesses, and evidence,” Markus wrote.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the pending case, citing Department of Justice policy.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has had similar issues in the past, Judge Gayles noted in the 2016 hearing.

He mentioned a reprimand issued in 2009 by a judge who ordered prosecutors to pay a defendant more than $600,000.

That judge ruled prosecutors and a Drug Enforcement Administration agent acted “vexatiously and in bad faith” when they secretly recorded a Miami defense lawyer, Markus, and his investigator in a questionable witness-tampering investigation.

An appeals court later ruled Dr. Ali Shaygan, who was found not guilty of prescription drug charges, was not entitled to the money because of how Judge Alan Gold handled the reprimands of the prosecutors.

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Acceleration

Who is Presiding Judge Andrea Gundersen, Mortgage Foreclosure Division, Seventeenth Judicial Circuit?

Judge Gundersen presides over all foreclosures in Broward County. She has been referred to JQC, asking that she be removed from the bench.

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FL Honest Lending Report

REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUL 5, 2021

After orchestrating one of the largest consumer frauds in American history, the banking industry continues the unethical and illegal servicing and foreclosure practices that were uncovered during the “robo-signing” scandal which eventually led to the $25b settlement with 49 State Attorneys General in 2012.

While some of the unethical practices regarding origination were curbed after the settlement, unethical servicing and fraudulent foreclosures continue to plague homeowners.

Floridians for Honest Lending (FHL) reviewed several hundred foreclosure complaints filed in 2019 by Bank of America, the Bank of New York Mellon, and JP Morgan Chase in the Eleventh and Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Courts that comprise Miami-Dade and Broward counties respectively. Upon that review, FHL found 369 foreclosure complaints were filed with rubber-stamped blank endorsements with signatures of David SpectorLaurie MederMichele Sjolander, and Cynthia Riley, whose names became synonymous with the robo-signing scandal. Of those, 325 were loans originated by Countrywide, the disgraced mortgage company that was bought by Bank of America in 2008.

In addition, FHL found that in Miami-Dade alone, 310 homes had been sold at auction since January 2019 that included these same rubber-stamped blank endorsements from these same rubber-stamped blank endorsements, 21 of which were sold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fraudulent rubber-stamped blank endorsements are used to establish standing and the banks’ right to foreclose on homeowners, the same homeowners that were sold predatory loans and pushed into foreclosure with unethical servicing practices.

This practice of filing false documents was documented by 60 Minutes in 2011 and was part of the complaint filed by the 49 State Attorneys General.

It was discovered after the $25b National Mortgage Settlement that Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase continued to submit forged documents, now relying on forgery and perjury, in foreclosures across the nation.

Unfortunately, the banks’ reckless greed left millions of properties with mortgages and promissory notes corrupted and the chain of title on those properties broken, putting trial court judges in an uncomfortable position of either taking the banking industry to task for these forged documents or kicking a family out of their home.

Unfortunately, with little scrutiny from the media, legislators, or regulators, our court system has heavily favored the latter.

In fact, FHL’s review found that in Broward county, 217 of the 219 foreclosure complaints filed in 2019 that included fraudulent rubber stamps were assigned to Judge Andrea Gundersen.

Of these cases assigned to Judge Gundersen, 126 of them have been closed, none of which were ruled in favor of the defendant.

Currently, Judge Gundersen presides over all foreclosures in Broward County.

She was reassigned from Family Court and does not have prior experience in foreclosure litigation.

Since her reassignment, defense attorneys have filed motions for judicial disqualification against Judge Gundersen for allowing attorneys for Bank of America to misrepresent the law and argue that “fraud on the court” is allowed in foreclosure because of a “litigation privilege” and ordering the defendant to pay the Bank’s attorney’s fees for challenging the fraud.

In April 2021, Judge Gundersen granted nineteen motions for disqualification in cases she presided over.

The clients have referred Judge Gundersen to the Judicial Qualifications Commission asking that she be removed from the bench.

These fraudulent foreclosures impact real people like Ana Rodriguez, an 82-year-old homeowner who was a former Cuban political prisoner, who now faces eviction because she was sold a predatory loan by Countrywide.

It impacts people like Mrs. Marie Williams-James who never missed a mortgage payment but Bank of America foreclosed on her anyway and Mr. and Mrs. Simpson who were working on a mortgage modification when the Judge refused the bank’s motion for continuance and forced the Simpsons into a fraudulent foreclosure judgment.

There is a new foreclosure crisis looming due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we get the pandemic under control, the federal government will be under increased pressure from the banking industry to lift the FHFA moratorium for federally-backed mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

That moratorium only protects borrowers who had strong enough credit scores to qualify for government-backed mortgages. The elderly, communities of color, and first-time homebuyers who took subprime mortgages are not protected by any moratorium and are still being evicted during the pandemic.

The issue of fraudulent foreclosures must be resolved before this new crisis begins. This is an issue that demands action at the local, state, and federal levels from legislators, regulators, and our judicial system.

We cannot continue to allow fraud in our justice system for the convenience of the banking industry and at the expense of homeowners’ American Dream.

Floridian for Honest Lending is a project of Opportunity For All Floridians, a 501c4 non-profit organization. We believe that our system will only work with transparency, honesty, and accountability. Our research can be found here.

Each complaint filed by the banks’ attorneys is linked in the second column. The forged rubber stamps can usually be found on the promissory notes that are included in the exhibits.

Below you can also find a sample of the varied David Spector signatures.

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