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Foreclosure Mill Fraud: Co-Founder Disbarred for Theft of Millions of Dollars but Faces No Criminal Charges

Ocwen also filed a proof of claim, alleging that more than $2 million of its funds, which should have been deposited in an IOLTA account, had been misappropriated.

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Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

IN THE MATTER OF STEVEN A. ABLITT

Docket: SJC-12929

Dates: February 3, 2021

 REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAR. 20, 2022

The respondent attorney, Steven A. Ablitt, appeals from the judgment of a single justice of this court disbarring him from the practice of law.[1] He claims both that the findings of misconduct are not supported by substantial evidence and that his due process rights were violated in the disciplinary proceedings. We affirm.

1. Background.

On September 6, 2016, bar counsel filed a two-count petition for discipline against the respondent and his former law partner, Lawrence F. Scofield, arising out of their default services law practice, Ablitt Scofield, P.C.[2]

At one time, the firm had offices in Massachusetts, Florida, and Puerto Rico; until it was restructured in 2013, Ablitt owned ninety-nine shares of the firm, while Scofield owned the remaining share.[3]

Ablitt also owned, or held interests in, several ancillary businesses, some of which provided services to the firm.

Because of the nature of its practice, the firm customarily advanced certain fees for the benefit of its lender clients for expenses such as filing fees, title searches, and auctions.

Over time, and particularly after U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Ibanez, 458 Mass. 637, 655 (2011) (Ibanez) (foreclosure action may not be commenced where lender not in possession of promissory note), those cash advances, combined with poor billing and collection practices, created a financial burden for the firm, and client funds on deposit in an Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA or IOLTA account) were used to pay the firm’s operating expenses.

As amended, count one of the petition for discipline charged that the respondent was responsible for intentional misuse of client funds, failed as a partner in the firm to supervise the firm’s financial and accounting personnel, and failed to maintain required IOLTA account records.

Count two charged that the respondent engaged in misrepresentation, disclosed confidential client information, and was involved in a conflict of interest in connection with a factoring agreement the firm used to finance its accounts receivable.

A hearing committee of the Board of Bar Overseers (board) held a public hearing, at which the respondent was represented by counsel.

Over the course of thirteen days, fifteen witnesses, including the respondent and Scofield, testified, and 283 exhibits were admitted in evidence. After the hearing, on the respondent’s motion, the evidence was reopened and there was an additional day of testimony.

Thereafter, the hearing committee issued a report, determined that bar counsel had proved the allegations of misconduct, and recommended that the respondent be disbarred.

The board adopted the committee’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations, and voted to recommend that the respondent be disbarred.

An information was filed in the county court pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 8 (6), as appearing in 453 Mass. 1310 (2009).

A single justice of this court reviewed the record and, after a hearing, accepted the hearing committee’s role as the “sole judge of the credibility of the testimony presented at the hearing.” S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 8 (5) (a). She concluded that the findings were supported by substantial evidence. See S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 8 (6).

The single justice accepted the board’s recommendation as to sanction, and a judgment of disbarment entered.

2. Disciplinary violations.

We summarize the hearing committee’s subsidiary findings, as adopted by the board and, like the single justice, conclude that the findings are supported by substantial evidence.[4] See S.J.C. Rule 4:01, § 8 (6). Its ultimate “findings . . . , as adopted by the board, are entitled to deference, although they are not binding on this court.” Matter of Ellis, 457 Mass. 413, 415 (2010). See Matter of Strauss, 479 Mass. 294, 296 (2018).

a. Count one: intentional misuse of client funds, failure to supervise, and failure to maintain records.

By 2010, the firm’s operating account had been depleted. Faced with mounting financial pressures, the respondent authorized the firm’s accounting department to withhold payments to certain vendors. His partner, Scofield, learned that the firm’s chief financial officer, Alfred Moss, was misusing IOLTA funds to pay operating expenses, and reprimanded him.

In December 2010, on the respondent’s recommendation, Robert Feige was hired as a financial consultant.

By the beginning of 2011, however, the firm owed millions of dollars to its vendors.

Between October 2010 and March 2011, the firm opened several new IOLTA accounts and an operating account.

The respondent and Scofield were the only signatories to those accounts.

Nonetheless, Moss continued to misuse IOLTA funds to pay firm expenses, and his employment was terminated in February 2011.

Soon thereafter, Feige became the firm’s chief financial officer.

Feige reported to both the respondent and Scofield that “a pretty big number” had been misappropriated from the firm’s IOLTA accounts.

The respondent and Scofield adopted Feige’s recommendation to replenish the IOLTA funds from new client trust funds received on behalf of other clients and, over time, from the firm’s profits.

Beginning in February 2011, Feige provided the respondent with weekly summaries of the firm’s finances, showing that the firm’s accounts payable exceeded its accounts receivable.

In addition, the respondent required that Feige and other accounting personnel report directly to him, and instructed that he be involved in meetings with creditors, lenders, and vendors.

Rogue Foreclosure Mill Lawyer Nat Hardwick Went to Jail. Why Not Ablitt, et al?

The firm’s financial condition continued to deteriorate, particularly after the court’s decision in Ibanez, 458 Mass. at 655.

Various of the firm’s lender clients froze foreclosure litigation, and for the next five or six months, the firm had no new foreclosure work. Because it continued to incur operating expenses, however, it began operating at a loss.

The firm’s debts to vendors, including the respondent’s ancillary businesses, escalated, and the accounting department began using the firm’s credit cards to “buy extra time” to cover payroll and other expenses.

In August 2011, five checks drawn on the IOLTA accounts were returned for insufficient funds.

As a result, bar counsel opened an investigation.

By that time, the respondent, Scofield, Feige, and Mary Donovan, a member of the firm’s accounting staff, had met to review the firm’s financial records.

The respondent retained legal ethics counsel to assist in responding to bar counsel’s inquiry.

Ethics counsel taught Donovan how to perform the three-way reconciliation required by Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15, as appearing in 471 Mass. 1380 (2015).[5]

Given that there were insufficient funds in the IOLTA accounts to reconcile them, however, a false set of records was created and submitted to bar counsel.

Although, based on the false records, bar counsel closed its investigation in May 2012, she emphasized to the respondent that the lawyers must comply with their professional obligations under Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15.

Despite the warning, the respondent took no steps to comply with that obligation.

No later than the fall of 2011, the respondent was aware of both Moss’s and Feige’s misuse of IOLTA funds.

By November 2011, funds transferred from the firm’s IOLTA accounts were being used to pay credit card bills, as well as other operational expenses.

In August 2012, a check for $370,000 drawn on one of the firm’s IOLTA accounts was returned for insufficient funds.

Bar counsel opened a second investigation.

That investigation subsequently was closed based on what the hearing committee determined were false statements by Feige to bar counsel.

In November 2012, the firm began receiving funds on behalf of a client, Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC (Ocwen), and by May 2013, it had received more than $2 million.

By May 24, 2013, however, the balance of the IOLTA account was less than $188,000, although no payments to Ocwen had been made, and notice had not been given to Ocwen that the funds were withdrawn to pay firm fees.

Between February 11, 2013, and May 22, 2013, the firm’s records indicated that approximately $591,000 was transferred from this IOLTA account to the firm’s operating account.

In 2013, the firm added three new partners to its practice: John Connolly, Jr.; Kevin Geaney; and Rachelle Willard.

At the time, the firm was interested in regaining approval to handle Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) loans, which had been lost years earlier.

It considered restructuring to give Fannie Mae the impression that the respondent was no longer managing the firm.

In May 2013, Connolly told Fannie Mae that the firm was under new management, although the respondent retained management authority.

In August 2013, Geaney learned that there were insufficient funds in the IOLTA account to cover a check Willard had requested, and that approximately $3 million was missing from the account.

At a meeting attended by the respondent, Scofield, Connolly, Geaney, and Willard, the lawyers were informed that, acting on the instruction of Feige, IOLTA funds had been used to cover firm operational expenses. Options, including terminating Feige’s employment, were discussed.

Although the respondent testified that he favored firing Feige, the hearing committee credited contrary testimony from other firm lawyers and employees.

The Fraudulent Transfers of Over $1M detailed in this Bankruptcy Proceeding

Grossman v. Durham Commercial Capital Corp., 614 B.R. 133 (B.A.P. 1st Cir. 2020)

In October 2013, a firm restructuring agreement and a consulting agreement were signed, listing May 16, 2013, as the effective date.

Notwithstanding the respondent’s position that, after May 16, 2013, he lacked management responsibility for the firm — in light of the restructuring agreement, his purported resignation, and the consulting agreement — the substantial evidence supports the hearing committee’s conclusion that he retained that responsibility. Regardless of their purported effective date, the documents were signed in October 2013, months after Fiege’s misconduct was discussed at the August meeting.

The substantial evidence also supports the hearing committee’s finding that the changes were largely illusory, designed in part to fool Fannie Mae into approving the firm to handle its business.

On September 3, 2014, the respondent filed a Chapter 7 involuntary bankruptcy petition against the firm, listing himself and his ancillary businesses as creditors.

Ocwen also filed a proof of claim, alleging that more than $2 million of its funds, which should have been deposited in an IOLTA account, had been misappropriated.

As the hearing committee found, and the board agreed, the respondent had a “hands-on approach” to the firm’s financial affairs and was well aware of its declining financial viability. Not only did he have a substantial ownership interest in the firm itself, but he also had ownership interests in ancillary businesses that received payments from it.

He recommended hiring Feige to improve its financial condition.

The hearing committee concluded that by failing to terminate Feige’s employment after the misconduct was discovered, the respondent ratified Feige’s misappropriation of client funds.

In addition, the hearing committee found, and the board agreed, that by collecting salary payments from the firm and ancillary businesses during the period that the respondent was aware of the misuse of IOLTA funds to pay operating expenses, the respondent benefited from the misuse.

The hearing committee found, and the board accepted, that not only was the respondent willfully blind to the misuse of client funds, but he also had actual knowledge of the misuse, and was personally responsible, pursuant to Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.3 (c), as appearing in 471 Mass. 1447 (2015), because he ratified Feige’s actions and failed to mitigate them.

See Matter of Zimmerman, 17 Mass. Att’y Discipline Rep. 633 (2001), quoting C.W. Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics § 13.3.3, at 696 (1986)

(“[A] lawyer cannot avoid ‘knowing’ a fact by purposefully refusing to look. While a lawyer ‘is not under an obligation to seek out information,’ his or her ‘studied ignorance of a readily accessible fact by consciously avoiding it is the functional equivalent of knowledge of the fact'”).

By failing to adopt procedures sufficient to ensure that the conduct of nonlawyer staff was compatible with the respondent’s professional obligations, by failing to ensure that the conduct of nonlawyer staff under his supervision adhered to those professional obligations, and by ratifying the misconduct of nonlawyers, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.3 (responsibilities regarding nonlawyer assistance) and Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4 (c), as appearing in 471 Mass. 1483 (2015) (dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).

By failing to maintain individual client ledgers, failing to perform and retain a three-way reconciliation of IOLTA accounts, and failing to ensure that only client trust funds were deposited into IOLTA accounts, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15 (b) (segregation of trust funds) and Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15 (f) (1) (trust account documentation). By failing to keep clients reasonably informed about their cases, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.4, as appearing in 471 Mass. 1319 (2015) (communication with clients).

b. Count two: fee factoring agreement.

The petition’s second count alleged that the respondent made knowing misrepresentations to a “factoring” company, Durham Commercial Capital Corp. (Durham), to the effect that the firm was financially solvent, for the purpose of inducing Durham to loan money to the firm.

The agreement granted Durham a security interest in the firm’s accounts receivable, notwithstanding that the firm previously had granted another creditor a security interest in the same assets.

Although the respondent testified that he believed, at the time he signed the agreement, that the firm was solvent, there is substantial evidence to support the hearing committee’s finding, adopted by the board, that the respondent was aware, as of October 2012, that the firm was unable to meet its payroll or other debts.

The firm did not comply fully with the factoring agreement.

In February 2013, the respondent assigned several clients (including Ocwen) to Durham, notwithstanding a provision in the firm’s contract with Ocwen that prohibited nonconsensual assignments.

Certain client invoices, provided by the respondent to Durham, disclosed the subject of the firm’s representation.

In addition, beginning in November 2013, the respondent asked another client to send payments directly to a bank account in Puerto Rico controlled by the respondent, rather than directly to Durham, as the factoring agreement required.

The hearing committee did not credit the respondent’s claim that the payments made to the Puerto Rico account were for the benefit of the firm’s “stand alone” Puerto Rico office, and therefore were not covered by the factoring agreement.

By disclosing confidential client information to Durham, without the clients’ consent, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.6 (a), as amended, 474 Mass. 1301 (2016) (confidentiality of information).

In addition, by failing to obtain his clients’ informed consent prior to entering into the factoring agreement, the respondent materially limited his ability to represent his clients, both because he was motivated by his own interests and because the factoring agreement created obligations to Durham, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.7 (b), as appearing in 471 Mass. 1335 (2015) (conflict of interest).

By using clients’ confidential information to their disadvantage and his own advantage, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.8 (b), as appearing in 471 Mass. 1349 (2015) (conflict of interest).

Finally, by misrepresenting to Durham that the firm was solvent and that it was paying its debts in a timely manner, the respondent violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4 (c) (misconduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).

3. Due process claim.

In addition to challenging the sufficiency of the evidence of misconduct, the respondent contends that the proceedings before the board did not comport with due process considerations, a claim we also reject.

Stripped of hyperbole, the gravamen of the respondent’s complaint is that bar counsel’s investigation was “designed to prove [her] initial conclusion” that the respondent was solely responsible for the demise of the firm of which he owned ninety-nine of its one hundred shares, and that the investigation was deficient because, among other things, bar counsel “had not reviewed or even sought a substantial portion of [the law firm’s] files.”

In the respondent’s view, “the only way to mount a defense to the [petition for discipline]” was to obtain “access to all” such files. On appeal, he also contends that the single justice’s memorandum of decision failed adequately to address his claim.[6]

The respondent principally complains that the board’s chair improperly denied his request for prehearing discovery subpoenas for a broad swath of e-mail messages and documents held by

(1) the trustee in the firm’s bankruptcy proceeding,

(2) seven individuals who worked at or with the law firm,

and

(3) three corporate entities.

The respondent contends that, as a result of the ruling, he had access to only a “small” portion of documents and communications (including e-mail messages) relating to the now-defunct law firm, i.e., the documents obtained by bar counsel.

There is no dispute, however, that bar counsel opened her files to the respondent (with the exception of her work product), or that the respondent had access to the same documents as bar counsel.

Nor did the respondent demonstrate that the procedure established by the rules — which permits hearing subpoenas for witnesses and documents — prejudiced his defense.

See Rules of the Board of Bar Overseers § 4.9(a)(2) (2017).[7]

As the board’s chair concluded, the respondent failed to demonstrate “substantial need” as required by the rule.

Taking into account that “the information sought or its substantial equivalent has been provided or was available by other means, [and] taking into consideration the formal or informal discovery that has already occurred,” id., the board’s chair denied the applications.

The respondent was permitted to — and did — subpoena witnesses to the hearing, and he examined them there.

No witnesses were excluded.

One of the witnesses produced 3,400 pages of e-mail printouts and delivered them to respondent’s counsel on May 25, 2017, more than two months prior to the conclusion of the hearing.[8]

There was no claim that bar counsel withheld documents from the respondent.

See Matter of the Discipline of an Attorney, 449 Mass. 1001, 1003 (2007) (bar counsel did not withhold documents she did not possess; no denial of due process).

Rather, both bar counsel and the respondent had access to the “full email file [of] Robert Feige, the partial email files of [the respondent] and [a]ttorneys John Connolly and Kevin Geaney” and “a sampling of the operational, financial, and, significantly, IOLTA account establishment records and documents of the [f]irm during the relevant time period.”

Although the respondent contends that he did not have all firm e-mail, he failed to demonstrate how the purportedly missing e-mail could have aided his defense.

The respondent did not, in short, establish that his ability to present an effective defense was impeded by the denial of the requested prehearing discovery.

Bar counsel is not obliged to participate in what amounts to a prehearing fishing expedition for evidence that might prove exculpatory.

See Matter of Abbott, 437 Mass. 384, 392 (2002); Matter of London, 427 Mass. 477, 481-482 (1998) (failure to interview respondent’s witness does not violate of due process).

While we recognize that there might be circumstances in which the denial of prehearing discovery may be so prejudicial as to amount to a due process violation, see Matter of Tobin, 417 Mass. 81, 87 (1994), those circumstances are not present here, see Matter of McDonald, 18 Mass. Att’y Discipline Rep. 382 (2002).

Among other things, the hearing committee granted the respondent’s request to reopen the hearing, after he had had ample opportunity to review all documents, and the only witness he called was himself.

Steven Ablitt Operated  a Foreclosure Mill Office in Florida and Investigated by the Florida Bar and was Found to be in Violation of the Unauthorized Practice of Law

Above is a disgruntled foreclosure lawyer, Lorelie Fiala‘s lawsuit for unpaid wages

4. Sanction.

board’s findings amply support its conclusion that the respondent violated multiple rules of professional conduct. In considering the single justice’s determination as to sanction, we inquire whether the sanction imposed is “markedly disparate from those ordinarily entered by the various single justices in similar cases.”

Matter of Alter, 389 Mass. 153, 156 (1983).

Considering the “cumulative effect of the several violations committed by the respondent,” Matter of Palmer, 413 Mass. 33, 38 (1992), and, like the single justice, giving “substantial deference to the board’s recommendation,” Matter of Foley, 439 Mass. 324, 333 (2003), we agree that disbarment is warranted, see Matter of Gordon, 385 Mass. 48, 58 (1982) (while board’s recommendation as to sanction is entitled to substantial deference, “ultimate duty of decision rests with this court”).

a. Sanction for established misconduct.

Although the board focused on the misconduct for which the most severe sanction is warranted, intentional misuse of client funds, bar counsel established a far broader swath of misconduct. Considering the cumulative effect of that misconduct reinforces the conclusion that disbarment is the correct sanction.

Bar counsel established that IOLTA funds intentionally were used, with the respondent’s knowledge, to pay the firm’s operating expenses.

At least one client, Ocwen, was deprived of more than $2 million dollars and, by the time of the disciplinary hearing, had not been reimbursed for the loss.

See Matter of Bryan, 411 Mass. 288, 292 (1991).

Disbarment is the presumptive sanction for intentional misuse of client funds, either with the intent to deprive or with actual deprivation resulting.

See Matter of Schoepfer, 426 Mass. 183, 186 (1997).

This is not a case where the misconduct consists more narrowly of failing adequately to supervise a nonlawyer’s handling of client funds.

In such cases, a term suspension has been imposed.

See Matter of Jackman, 444 Mass. 1013, 1014-1015 (2005) (two-year suspension, with prohibition on civil practice on reinstatement where attorney failed to supervise nonlawyer, resulting in commingling and conversion of client funds, without restitution);

Matter of Goldberg, 23 Mass. Att’y Discipline Rep. 191 (2007) (suspension of one year and one day for failure to supervise nonlawyer);

Matter of Gordon, 20 Mass. Att’y Discipline Rep. 166 (2004) (two-year suspension where attorney, victimized by employee theft, failed to reconcile and audit client account after learning of it, and engaged in other misconduct).

Even after becoming aware of Moss’s and Feige’s misuse of IOLTA funds for the firm’s operational benefit, the respondent failed to supervise the accounting staff and failed to make reasonable efforts to put in place measures that would provide reasonable assurances that the respondent’s professional obligations with respect to client funds were satisfied.

See Matter of Fuster, 24 Mass. Att’y Discipline Rep. 287 (2008) (eighteen-month suspension for failure to adequately supervise nonlawyers and other misconduct, including commingling and negligent misuse of client funds; prior record of discipline).

The respondent’s failure to terminate Feige, and allowing him to remain in control of the firm’s finances, ratified the misconduct within the meaning of Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.3 (c) (1) and (2).

Likewise, the respondent violated the rules of professional conduct directly and through the acts of another, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4 (a). In addition, the respondent’s failure to keep IOLTA records that complied with the requirements of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15 and the dishonored checks drawn on IOLTA accounts also warrant public discipline.

See Matter of Beatrice, 23 Mass. Att’y Discipline Rep. 31 (2007).

In connection with the factoring agreement, the respondent disclosed confidential client information for his own benefit, i.e., obtaining financing for the firm.

In so doing, he created a conflict of interest between his contractual obligation to Durham and his professional obligations to his clients.

See Matter of Wise, 433 Mass. 80, 90-92 (2000) (six-month suspension for conflict of interest and revealing confidential client information); Matter of Pike, 408 Mass. 740, 745-746 (1990) (six-month suspension for engaging in conflict of interest).

The respondent made material misrepresentations to Durham concerning the firm’s solvency and falsely represented that pledged assets had not been previously encumbered.

A term suspension has been imposed for similar misconduct.

See Matter of Hass, 477 Mass. 1015, 1017-1019 (2017) (two-month suspension for falsely representing that client settlement not already encumbered);

Matter of Goodman, 22 Mass. Att’y Discipline Rep. 352 (2006) (one-year suspension for multiple misrepresentations to insurance companies);

Matter of Behenna, 10 Mass. Att’y Discipline Rep. 15 (1994) (two-year suspension for executing closing documents that falsely represented terms of transaction).

b. Factors considered in mitigation and aggravation.

i. Mitigating factors.

In his answer to the petition for discipline, the respondent alleged no factors in mitigation of sanction. See Rules of the Board of Bar Overseers § 3.15(d), (f). At the hearing, while he testified to certain medical conditions and stress, he offered no medical records, expert testimony, or other evidence that those circumstances caused or contributed to the misconduct.

See Matter of Dragon, 440 Mass. 1023, 1024 (2003) (requiring causal connection between claimed mitigating factor and misconduct).

Further, those circumstances and stress appear to have occurred after the respondent became aware that Feige and others had misappropriated the IOLTA funds, in August 2013 at the latest.

We agree with the board that those factors do not weigh in mitigation of sanction.

The same is true of the respondent’s contention that he and his spouse lent money to the firm to pay the firm’s expenses and to restore the firm’s retirement plan.

Those “loans” do not serve as restitution to a client, see Matter of Bryan, 411 Mass. at 290-292, or evidence of reform, see Matter of Corbett, 478 Mass. 1004, 1005-1006 (2017).

Self-interested loans are not an outward sign of remorse.

See id.

Further, client funds are not fungible commodities, see Matter of Strauss, 479 Mass. at 301, and IOLTA accounts cannot be treated as a line of credit for a lawyer or law firm experiencing financial difficulties.

ii. Aggravating factors.

The board properly weighed multiple factors in aggravation, including the respondent’s use of IOLTA funds for personal gain, lack of candor before the hearing committee, harm to clients, and lack of acknowledgment of essential ethical rules.

After learning that the firm’s IOLTA accounts were being used to fund the firm’s operational needs, and knowing the firm’s strained financial condition, the respondent continued to collect his salary and use the firm’s funds to pay his own personal expenses.

He did not take necessary steps to ensure that IOLTA funds were properly managed, notwithstanding that bar counsel had twice previously investigated the firm when IOLTA checks were returned for insufficient funds.

At least one client was not compensated for its loss.

He “engaged in more and wider misconduct.”

Matter of Haese, 468 Mass. 1002, 1008 (2014).

Although the respondent contends that the board erred in weighing in aggravation the hearing committee’s finding that he gave false testimony before the hearing committee, he is entitled to defend himself.

While a respondent is entitled to defend himself, he is not entitled to testify falsely.

Finally, although the respondent contends that the board erred in finding that he demonstrated a lack of appreciation for basic ethics obligations and a lack of remorse, and in weighing those factors in aggravation, on the evidence presented, the board properly could conclude that the respondent’s “lack of remorse and insincerity with regard to acceptance of responsibility” are aggravating factors.[9]

Matter of Corbett, 478 Mass. at 1007.

5. Conclusion.

A bar discipline proceeding is not a forum best used broadly to cast blame or aspersions on others.

It is a proceeding with a narrow focus: to determine whether there is a preponderance of evidence that an attorney has violated one or more rules of professional conduct and, if so, what sanction is warranted.

The respondent’s continued focus in these proceedings on matters other than the charged misconduct does him a disservice because evidence of misconduct is neither excused nor obscured by accusations of misconduct by others.

With deference to the sanction recommended by the board, we affirm the judgment of the single justice that disbarment is warranted.

So ordered.

The case was submitted on the record, accompanied by a memorandum of law.

Mark L. Josephs for the respondent.

Footnotes

[1] This appeal is subject to the court’s standing order governing bar discipline appeals. See S.J.C. Rule 2:23, 471 Mass. 1303 (2015). Pursuant to the standing order, we dispense with oral argument.

[2] Lawrence F. Scofield defaulted on the petition for discipline and subsequently was disbarred. The petition for discipline proceeded to hearing solely against the respondent.

[3] In 2013, three partners were added to the firm, and it was restructured as “Connolly, Geaney, Ablitt & Willard, A Professional Corporation.” The firm, as restructured, closed in June 2014.

[4] The respondent’s argument that the single justice’s memorandum of decision is not sufficiently detailed is without merit. Like the single justice, we have considered the record in light of the respondent’s arguments that the board’s findings are not supported by substantial evidence, that it did not consider adequately his own testimony and documentary evidence, and that it relied on witnesses who he thought were not credible. Like the single justice, we conclude that the board’s findings are supported by substantial evidence.

[5] For convenience, in this opinion, we cite the current versions of the rules of professional conduct, which include substantially the same language as those in effect at the relevant times in this matter.

[6] Although the single justice did not separately address the denial of what the respondent characterizes as “voluminous” discovery, there is no merit to it, as the single justice correctly summarized.

[7] Section 4.9(a)(2) of the Rules of the Board of Bar Overseers provides that “[a] motion to take a discovery deposition shall be allowed only upon a showing of a substantial need for the deposition in the preparation of the applicant’s case, taking in to consideration: (A) The nature and complexity of the case and the need to assure an expeditious, economical and fair proceeding. (B) Whether the information sought or its substantial equivalent has been provided or was available by other means, taking into consideration the formal or informal discovery that has already occurred. (C) The prevention of embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden, including economic burden, that the deposition may cause the deponent.”

[8] Among the documents produced were messages from the e-mail boxes of Feige, Geaney, and Connolly. The respondent also obtained the e-mail box of an employee of Durham. Bar counsel provided the respondent’s e-mail box.

[9] Although both the board’s and the single justice’s memoranda reference events that occurred prior to the misconduct charged in the petition for discipline, those events do not form the basis for discipline. The references do not establish a violation of due process, as the respondent contends. See Matter of Strauss, 479 Mass. at 300 n.9.

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Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd
Administered Oath December 1, 2020
SJC Chief Justice Kimberly Budd

Kimberly S. Budd became the 38th Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court on December 1, 2020 when she was sworn in by Governor Charlie Baker. She was appointed as an Associate Justice on the Court on August 24, 2016.

Chief Justice Budd earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.

She began her legal career as a law clerk to Chief Justice Joseph P. Warner of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. She was a litigation associate at Mintz Levin, before serving as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts in the Major Crimes and Drug Units. After that, she was a University Attorney for Harvard University in the General Counsel’s Office. She later served as Director of the Community Values program at Harvard Business School.

Chief Justice Budd was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court by Governor Deval Patrick in 2009. In 2016 she served as the Regional Administrative Justice for Middlesex Criminal Business.

Chief Justice Budd teaches in MCLE and Bar Association programs, is a former adjunct instructor at New England Law, and has taught trial advocacy at Harvard Law School. She is married with two sons.

Justice Frank M. Gaziano
Administered Oath August 18, 2016
Justice Frank M. Gaziano

Frank M. Gaziano, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie Baker. Born in Quincy, Massachusetts, he received his B.A. from Lafayette College in 1986, and earned a J.D., magna cum laude, from Suffolk Law School in 1989. He began his legal career at the Boston law firm of Foley Hoag as a litigation associate. In 1991, he entered public service as an assistant district attorney with the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office in Brockton. In Plymouth County, he prosecuted complex felony cases, including homicides, and represented the Commonwealth on appeal before the Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court. In 2001, Justice Gaziano was appointed the First Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, where he was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force.

Governor Mitt Romney appointed Justice Gaziano as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court in 2004. Justice Gaziano served as the Regional Administrative Justice for Plymouth County and for Criminal Business in Suffolk County. He also chaired the Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Criminal Rules and was a member of the Supreme Judicial Court’s Model Homicide Jury Instruction Committee. He frequently presents educational programs for attorneys and judges on trial advocacy, evidence, criminal law, criminal procedure, and search and seizure.

Justice David A. Lowy
Administered Oath August 24, 2016
Justice David A. Lowy

David A. Lowy, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie Baker. He earned a B.A., cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1983, and graduated magna cum laude from Boston University School of Law in 1987.

Following law school, Justice Lowy became an associate in the Litigation Department of Goodwin, Procter & Hoar (1987-88 and 89-90), leaving for a year-long stint to work as a law clerk to Judge Edward F. Harrington in the U.S. District Court. He was also an assistant district attorney in Essex and Suffolk Counties (1992 -1997) and served as Deputy Legal Counsel to Governor William F. Weld (1992 -1995).

Justice Lowy was first appointed to the bench in 1997 as a District Court Judge. In 2001, Governor Paul Cellucci appointed him to the Superior Court bench.

Justice Lowy served on the Supreme Judicial Court Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Evidence Law as an Editor; the committee’s work resulted in publication of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence in 2008.

Justice Lowy’s teaching positions include adjunct professorships at New England School of Law | Boston (1991- present); Suffolk University Law School (1995-2005), and Boston University School of Law (2006 – present), where he teaches courses in evidence.

Justice Elspeth B. Cypher
Administered Oath March 31, 2017
Justice Elspeth B. Cypher

Elspeth B. Cypher, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie Baker. Justice Cypher was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 26, 1959. She received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Emerson College in 1980 and a J.D., cum laude, from Suffolk University Law School in 1986, where she served on the Suffolk University Law Review.

From 1986 to 1988, she was an associate at the Boston law firm of Grayer, Brown and Dilday. In 1988 she became an Assistant District Attorney in Bristol County, where she served for the next twelve years. From 1993 to 2000, she was chief of the Appellate Division of that office and argued many cases before the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court. In 2000 Governor Paul Cellucci appointed her to the Appeals Court, and she took her seat as an Associate Justice on December 27, 2000.

For many years Justice Cypher was an adjunct professor at Southern New England School of Law (now the University of Massachusetts School of Law – Dartmouth), where she taught courses on legal writing; criminal procedure; criminal law; and women, law, and the legal system. She has participated in numerous educational programs for judges and lawyers and has written extensively about developments in criminal law in Massachusetts. Active in the Massachusetts Bar Association, Justice Cypher has served as co-chair of its criminal law section. She was the recipient of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s Lawyer of the Year Award in 2000 for her work in the long running prosecutions of James M. Kater for the murder of Mary Lou Arruda.

In 2012, Justice Kent B. Smith asked her to co-author a fourth edition of his books in the Massachusetts Practice Series, Criminal Practice and Procedure. Before he passed away in October, 2012, she assumed responsibility for the supplement in 2013 and the fourth edition was published in 2014.

Justice Scott L. Kafker
Administered Oath August 21, 2017
Justice Scott L. Kafker

Scott L. Kafker, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie D. Baker on August 21, 2017. Prior to this appointment, Justice Kafker served as Chief Justice of the Appeals Court from 2015 to 2017.

Justice Kafker graduated from Amherst College in 1981 and from the University of Chicago Law School in 1985, where he was on the Law Review. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Justice Charles L. Levin of the Michigan Supreme Court, then as a law clerk to Judge Mark L. Wolf of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. In 1987, he joined the Boston law firm of Foley, Hoag & Eliot as an associate. From 1991 to 1993, Justice Kafker was deputy chief legal counsel to Governor William F. Weld. In 1993, he was named chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Port Authority. He was appointed to the Appeals Court by Governor Paul Cellucci and joined the Court on March 7, 2001. Governor Baker appointed him the sixth Chief Justice of the Appeals Court on July 22, 2015.

Justice Kafker taught state constitutional law at Boston College Law School from 2009 to 2015. He has also served on the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of book reviews, comments and articles appearing in the University of Chicago Law Review, The Labor Lawyer, Massachusetts Law Review, Michigan State Law Review, New England Law Review, Washington and Lee Law Review, and the Rutgers Law Journal. He served on the Supreme Judicial Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure from 2008 to 2015. He now serves as President and Dean of the Flaschner Judicial Institute. He is also a member of the American Law Institute.

Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt
Administered Oath December 4, 2020
SJC Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt

Dalila Argaez Wendlandt, Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie Baker on December 4, 2020. Prior to this appointment, Justice Wendlandt served as an Associate Justice in the Appeals Court from 2017 to 2020.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Justice Wendlandt graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1993. While at MIT, she designed, manufactured and developed the non-collocated control of a climbing robot. She then earned her Juris Doctor degree, with highest honors, from Stanford University Law School in 1996, where she was an article editor of the Stanford Law Review.

Upon graduation, Justice Wendlandt clerked for the Honorable John M. Walker, Jr., of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She joined the firm of Ropes & Gray LLP in 1997, eventually becoming a partner in the Intellectual Property Litigation Group of that firm. Her practice focused on counselling clients in such diverse industries as semiconductor manufacturing, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, with particular emphasis on electro-mechanical devices and controls algorithms, regarding patent and trade secret misappropriation litigation. Her active trial and litigation practice included a successful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a federal statute on constitutional grounds. She was also active in firm’s administration, particularly with regard to hiring and coordinating the firm’s summer associate program. She also served on the firm’s flextime committee, assisting lawyers who desired flexible work arrangements.

Justice Wendlandt has published widely on the subject of patent law, writing in technical journals like Biotechnology Law Report to more popular publications such as Forbes. She has also lectured extensively at specialized seminars, bar associations and a law school. Justice Wendlandt assisted clients in pro bono activities such as requests for political asylum and a death row inmate’s post-trial petitions. She also served as a Middlesex County Special Assistant District Attorney in two appellate matters.

Justice Serge Georges, Jr.
Administered Oath December 16, 2020
SJC Justice Serge Georges, Jr.

Serge Georges, Jr., Associate Justice, was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Charlie Baker on December 16, 2020. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Boston College in 1992 and his law degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1996.

Following law school, Justice Georges began his legal career as a litigation associate at Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster, P.C. and Todd & Weld, LLP. In 2007 he joined the firm of Barron & Stadfeld, P.C., eventually becoming a partner. He had a diverse practice focused on commercial litigation and criminal defense practice in state and federal courts. Governor Deval Patrick appointed Justice Georges as an Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court in 2013.

Justice Georges’ teaching positions include adjunct professorships at Suffolk University Law School (2000 – present) and University of Massachusetts School of Law (2019 to present) where he teaches courses in Evidence, Professional Responsibility and Trial Advocacy and frequently presents educational programs at Judicial Education programs, MCLE and Bar Association programs.

Appellate Circuit

God Goes in Front of Me and Makes the Crooked Straight and I Get to Keep My Pension

Ex-Inmate and Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown is Confident of Her Plea Deal Keepin’ Her out of Jail and Ending Her Criminal Case.

Published

on

Former congresswoman Corrine Brown to take plea deal
Brown faced retrial this fall on federal fraud charges

May 17, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: May 17, 2022

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former congresswoman Corrine Brown is set to change her plea Wednesday in a federal case that involves charges of fraud and conspiracy, avoiding a retrial that was scheduled to take place this fall.

Tuesday morning, News4JAX reporter Jim Piggott spoke with Corrine Brown by phone. She said everything will come out in court tomorrow.

“I want you to know, God has been good to me,”

Brown said.

“I just talked to my pastor and I know that He goes in front of me and make the crooked straight. That’s all I can tell you, He’s good.”

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown is set to change her plea Wednesday in a federal case that involves charges of fraud and conspiracy, avoiding a retrial that was scheduled to take place this fall.

Brown was indicted in 2016 on charges that included conspiracy, wire fraud, and tax fraud, on accusations that she used contributions to the One Door for Education charity for personal expenses.

Brown was convicted on some of the charges in May 2017, and began a five-year prison sentence in January 2018. Brown was released in April 2020, due to coronavirus concerns.

Following her conviction, Brown appealed the guilty verdict, arguing the trial judge wasn’t justified in replacing a juror who said the Holy Spirit told him Brown was not guilty.

A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals initially upheld Brown’s conviction.

Brown’s attorneys then asked for a rehearing before the full 11th Circuit, known as an “en banc” hearing. In May 2021, the appellate court reversed the conviction with a 7-4 decision, sending the case back to the district court for a potential retrial.

In October 2021, we learned that prosecutors planned to re-try Brown on the felony counts she faced in her 2017 trial.

At the time, we learned prosecutors had already extended her a plea deal to avoid being retried and the possibility of a return to prison, an offer she rejected at the time.

Following the appointment of a new defense team, Brown’s retrial was set to take place in September of 2022.

News4JAX Jim Piggott spoke with attorney Curtis Fallgatter,

“(Jim) Are you surprised at all?

(Curtis) A little bit, but not terribly because of the age of the case, the complexity of the case, the number of issues, reversal on appeal issues about a retrial, can I get a conviction, the age of Brown.”

The court document indicating that Brown will be changing her plea does not indicate what charges she may be pleading guilty to, or what sentence could potentially be imposed.

Fallgatter doesn’t believe Brown will serve any additional time.

He said she would not agree to that, and the agreement should be an end to the case.

Brown is getting her pension, and that likely will not change.

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Appellate Circuit

Foreclosure Sanctions Maxed Out After Lapin And Leichtling Rip Opposing Counsel

Julio Marrero and Marrero Law continue to file patently frivolous removals and in bad faith sayeth Associate Jan Williams of LL-Lawfirm.com

Published

on

Third District Court of Appeal
State of Florida

Opinion filed April 20, 2022.
Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

Nos. 3D21-0373 & 3D21-0668
Lower Tribunal No. 16-28602

Max Kraushaar, et al.,
Appellants, vs.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., etc.,
Appellee.

APR 20, 2022 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: APR 27, 2022

Appeals from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Barbara Areces, Judge.

Marrero, Chamizo, Marcer Law, LP, and Julio C. Marrero, for appellants.

Lapin & Leichtling, LLP, and Justin G. Prociv, for appellee.

Before FERNANDEZ, C.J., and LINDSEY, and MILLER, JJ. PER CURIAM.

Affirmed.

See Tillman v. State, 471 So. 2d 32, 35 (Fla. 1985);

Person v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon Tr. Co., 201 So. 3d 842, 843 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016).

Wells Fargo Bank N.A. v. Kraushaar

(1:21-cv-21156)

District Court, S.D. Florida

MAR 26, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: APR 25, 2022

ORDER

THIS CAUSE comes before the Court on Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank N.A.’s Motion to Remand, for Sanctions Pursuant to the Court’s Inherent Power to Sanction, and for Reasonable Fees and Costs (the “Motion”) [ECF No. 6].

The Court has reviewed the Motion and the record and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted.

On November 4, 2016, Plaintiff, as Trustee for AEGIS Asset Backed Securities Trust Mortgage Pass Through Certificates Series 2004-4, brought a mortgage foreclosure action against Defendants in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida (“State Circuit Court”).1

On March 26, 2021, Defendants Max Kraushaar and Olinda Kraushaar removed this action from the State Circuit Court (the “Notice of Removal”). [ECF No. 1]. On April 5, 2021,

1 The Court takes judicial notice of the State Circuit Court’s online docket and the documents therein in the original state action titled Wells Fargo Bank N.A. v. Max Kraushaar et al., Case No. 2016-028602-CA-01. See Fed. R. Evid. 201; United States v. Rey, 811 F.2d 1453, 1457 n.5 (11th Cir. 1987) (“A court may take judicial notice of its own records and the records of inferior courts.”).

Plaintiff filed the instant motion, arguing that Defendants’ Notice of Removal is facially deficient and fails to show that removal is proper. [ECF No. 6].

Plaintiff also argues that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action. Id.

In addition, the Motion details the recent string of improper removals in state post-judgment foreclosure actions by Julio Marrero, Esq., and the law firm Marrero, Chamizo, Marcer Law LP, who represent Defendants. Id.

Defendants failed to timely respond to the Motion.

This error is fatal for Defendants because “on a motion to remand, the removing party bears the burden of showing the existence of federal subject matter jurisdiction.”

Williams v. Aquachile, Inc., 470 F. Supp. 3d 1277, 1279 (S.D. Fla. 2020) (quoting Conn. State Dental Ass’n v. Anthem Health Plans, Inc., 591 F.3d 1337, 1343 (11th Cir. 2009)).

Because Defendants failed to timely respond to the Motion, they fail to establish the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED as follows:

1. Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank N.A.’s Motion to Remand, for Sanctions Pursuant to the Court’s Inherent Power to Sanction, and for Reasonable Fees and Costs, [ECF No. 6], is GRANTED.

2. The above-styled case is REMANDED to Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida.

3. Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank N.A. shall be awarded $500.00 as reasonable costs and attorney’s fees, which Plaintiff shall recover from Defendants Max Kraushaar and Olinda Kraushaar and their counsel, Julio Marrero, Esq., of the law firm Marrero, Chamizo, Marcer Law LP, jointly and severally.

4. Any pending motions are DENIED as moot.

5. This case is CLOSED.

DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers in Miami, Florida, this 21st day of April, 2021.

 

 

 

 

JUDGE DARRIN P. GAYLES, SD FL.

Motion for Sanctions

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U.S. District Court
Southern District of Florida (Miami)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 1:21-cv-21156-DPG

Wells Fargo Bank N.A. v. Kraushaar et al
Assigned to: Judge Darrin P. Gayles

Case in other court:  Miami-Dade County Circuit State Court, 16-028602-CA-01

Cause: 12:1441 Federal Mortgage Foreclosure

Date Filed: 03/26/2021
Date Terminated: 04/21/2021
Jury Demand: None
Nature of Suit: 220 Real Property: Foreclosure
Jurisdiction: Federal Question
Plaintiff
Wells Fargo Bank N.A.
as Trustee for AEGIS Assest Backed Securities Trust Mortgage Pass Through Certificates Series 2004-4
represented by Jan Timothy Williams
Lapin & Leichtling, LLP
255 Alhambra Circle
Suite 1250
Coral Gables, FL 33134
3058300421
Email: jwilliams@ll-lawfirm.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
V.
Defendant
Max Kraushaar represented by Julio Cesar Marrero
Marrero, Chamizo, Marcer Law, LP
3850 Bird Road, Suite 902
Coral Gables, FL 33146
305-446-0163
Email: eqramul@marrerorealestatelaw.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
Defendant
Olinda Kraushaar represented by Julio Cesar Marrero
(See above for address)
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

 

Date Filed # Docket Text
03/26/2021 1 NOTICE OF REMOVAL (STATE COURT COMPLAINT – Complaint for Foreclosure) Filing fee $ 402.00 receipt number AFLSDC-14555290, filed by Olinda Kraushaar, Max Kraushaar.(Marrero, Julio) (Entered: 03/26/2021)
03/26/2021 2 Clerks Notice of Judge Assignment to Judge Darrin P. Gayles.Pursuant to 28 USC 636(c), the parties are hereby notified that the U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres is available to handle any or all proceedings in this case. If agreed, parties should complete and file the Consent form found on our website. It is not necessary to file a document indicating lack of consent.

Pro se (NON-PRISONER) litigants may receive Notices of Electronic Filings (NEFS) via email after filing a Consent by Pro Se Litigant (NON-PRISONER) to Receive Notices of Electronic Filing. The consent form is available under the forms section of our website. (scn) (Entered: 03/26/2021)

03/26/2021 3 Clerks Notice to Filer re: Electronic Case. State Court Records not included. Filer is instructed to file a Notice (Other) with the State Court Records attached within 24 hours. (scn) (Entered: 03/26/2021)
03/26/2021 4 Clerks Notice to Filer re: Electronic Case. No Civil Cover Sheet. Filer is instructed to file a Notice (Other) with the Civil Cover Sheet attached within 24 hours of the notice. (scn) (Entered: 03/26/2021)
04/05/2021 5 NOTICE OF COURT PRACTICE. Unless otherwise specified by the Court, every motion shall be double-spaced in Times New Roman 12-point typeface. Multiple Plaintiffs or Defendants shall file joint motions with co-parties unless there are clear conflicts of position. If conflicts of position exist, parties shall explain the conflicts in their separate motions. Failure to comply with ANY of these procedures may result in the imposition of appropriate sanctions, including but not limited to, the striking of the motion or dismissal of this action. Signed by Judge Darrin P. Gayles (jsi) (Entered: 04/05/2021)
04/05/2021 6 Plaintiff’s MOTION to Remand to State Court for Sanctions Pursuant to the Court’s Inherent Power to Sanction, and for Reasonable Fees and Costs by Wells Fargo Bank N.A.. Attorney Jan Timothy Williams added to party Wells Fargo Bank N.A.(pty:pla). (Williams, Jan) (Entered: 04/05/2021)
04/21/2021 7 Order Granting 6 Plaintiff’s MOTION to Remand to State Court for Sanctions Pursuant to the Court’s Inherent Power to Sanction, and for Reasonable Fees and Costs filed by Wells Fargo Bank N.A. The above-styled case is REMANDED to Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida. Closing Case. Signed by Judge Darrin P. Gayles on 4/21/2021. See attached document for full details. (scn) (Entered: 04/21/2021)
04/21/2021 8 Transmittal Letter Sent with DE#7 to: Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida. State Court Case Number: 16-028602-CA-01. (scn) (Entered: 04/21/2021)
05/10/2021 9 ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF RECEIPT as to 8 Transmittal Letter Sent. (scn) (Entered: 05/10/2021)
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Appellate Circuit

The 3rd Branch is Now Circlin’ the Wagons Around the Ivory Tower

Gov. DeSantis appoints Gordo and Lobree to the Third District Court of Appeal, Apr 25, 2019 as conservative, constitutional judges.

Published

on

DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA

FOURTH DISTRICT

CALVIN E. JACKSON and CARMEN A. JACKSON,

Appellants,

v.

WILMINGTON SAVINGS FUND SOCIETY, FSB, D/B/A CHRISTIANA TRUST, NOT INDIVIDUALLY, BUT AS TRUSTEE FOR

PRETIUM MORTGAGE ACQUISITION TRUST, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, BY AND THROUGH THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION,

Appellees.

No. 4D20-2779 [March 31, 2022]

Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Barry J. Stone, Senior Judge; L.T. Case No. 062014CA021611AXXXCE.

Bruce Jacobs of Jacobs Legal, PLLC, Miami, for appellants.

Adam G. Schwartz of Fox McCluskey Bush Robison PLLC, Stuart, for appellee Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB.

 

 REPUBLISHED BY LIF: APR 1, 2022

PER CURIAM.

Affirmed.

CONNER, C.J., GERBER and KUNTZ, JJ., concur.

* * *

Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

Third District Court of Appeal
State of Florida

Opinion filed March 30, 2022.
Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

No. 3D21-606
Lower Tribunal No. 12-38811

Joseph T. Buset,
Appellant,

vs.

HSBC Bank USA, National Association, etc.,
Appellee.

 REPUBLISHED BY LIF: MAR 30, 2022

An Appeal from a non-final order from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Charles K. Johnson, Judge.

Jacobs Legal, PLLC, and Bruce Jacobs, for appellant.

Greenberg Traurig, P.A., and Kimberly S. Mello and Arda Goker (Orlando), for appellee.

Before LOGUE, MILLER, and LOBREE, JJ. PER CURIAM.

Affirmed.

Bank of New York Mellon v. Simpson, 227 So. 3d 669, 670

(Fla. 3d DCA 2017)

(“This Court has held to the principle that that Rule 1.540(b) does not have as its purpose or intent the reopening of lawsuits to allow parties to state new claims or offer new evidence omitted by oversight or inadvertence.”);

see also JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Llovet, 330 So.3d 1006, 1010 (Fla. 3d DCA 2021);

HSBC Bank USA, Nat’l Ass’n v. Buset, 241 So. 3d 882, 891 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018).

Third District Court of Appeal
State of Florida

Opinion filed March 30, 2022.
Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

Nos. 3D20-1470; 3D21-0737; 3D21-0409
Lower Tribunal No. 19-29733

Stanislav Fiskin,
Appellant,

vs.

Wilmington Trust, N.A., etc.,
Appellee.

 REPUBLISHED BY LIF: MAR 30, 2022

Appeals from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Abby Cynamon and Charles K. Johnson, Judges.

Cotzen Law, P.A., and Michael L. Cotzen, for appellant.

Fox McCluskey Bush Robison PLLC, and Eric S. Matthew (Stuart), for appellee.

Before FERNANDEZ, C.J., and LINDSEY, and LOBREE, JJ. PER CURIAM.

Affirmed.

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