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Former Public Defender Shirkin’ The Law Upsets Florida Supreme Court

Former Jacksonville public defender Matt Shirk’s conditional guilty plea filed last month with the Florida Supreme Court is rejected.

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Florida Supreme Court rejects ex-public defender’s guilty plea to ethics violations

MAR 18, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAR 19, 2021

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former Jacksonville public defender Matt Shirk’s conditional guilty plea filed last month with the Florida Supreme Court was rejected.

Shirk had agreed to plead guilty to violating several rules of the Florida Bar — including the Rules of Professional Conduct, violation of the oath taken by a lawyer to support the constitutions of the US and Florida, providing competent representation to a client and others — in exchange for a six-month suspension from practicing law.

The suspension would have taken effect 30 days from the date of the final order, but the Supreme Court said it considered the conditional plea for consent judgment and rejected it.

“The Florida Bar is hereby directed to prepare and file a formal complaint against Matt Shirk,” the Court wrote.

The issues stem from Shirk’s time as a public defender in Jacksonville from 2009-2017.

A grand jury investigation into his actions in office eventually got sent to the Florida Commission on Ethics, which led to public censure, reprimand and a $6,000 civil penalty.

The ethics commission found he violated statutes by hiring or directing the hiring of three young women in a way that went outside normal hiring practices, then fired them for the sake of himself, his wife and their marriage.

It also found he violated state statute by serving or consuming alcoholic beverages in a city building, and by revealing information relating to the representation of a former child client through an interview he gave to a documentary crew.

According to the conditional guilty plea, Shirk’s misconduct was “due, in part, to personal or emotional problems” and that he’s “deeply remorseful for his unprofessional behavior while serving as Public Defender.”

Former Jacksonville public defender Matt Shirk gave away guns, money after failed reelection

AUG 1, 2019 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAR 19, 2021

After former Public Defender Matt Shirk was ousted from office in 2016, he spent or gave away tens of thousands of dollars on himself and his friends, including handing nine state-owned firearms to a motorcycle club without documentation.

A new Florida Auditor General’s report, the culmination of more than two years of investigation, details the repeated ways that Shirk violated state law or policy before and after his failed August 2016 re-election bid.

The report details how Shirk used state employees to staff his personal nonprofit, Vision for Excellence, including assigning attorneys to work at fundraising events. Because that nonprofit receives less than $50,000 a year, its financial records, unlike other nonprofits, are not publicly available from the Internal Revenue Service. This makes it unclear whether Shirk was paying himself a salary from the nonprofit. The auditor estimated the value of time Shirk’s employees worked at his nonprofit as more than $14,000.

Shirk did not return requests for comment Thursday morning, and he has not responded to any requests for comment since he left office in January 2017. The Times-Union asked Thursday morning if the State Attorney’s Office will review the report for potential crimes committed. The office did not respond.

Among other things, Shirk still owes the state $5,242, and the auditor general has urged Shirk’s successor, Public Defender Charlie Cofer, to use a debt collector. Shirk owes the state because it paid for his retirement costs on his behalf, his personal fuel costs and costs associated with his damaging a car.

Public records also went missing during his final months in office. In one case, he gave away 10 computers just two days before leaving office. When the computers were recovered, the hard drives had been removed and wiped clean. “It is the belief of the present administration that the hard-drives had been removed from the computers prior to their donation to the charity,” Cofer wrote in a response to the report. “It is believed that the removal of the hard drives was part of a concerted effort by the prior administration to delete emails and other documents in violation of public records laws.”

Deleting public records can be a criminal violation in Florida.

The Auditor General recommended a number of policy changes to ensure these violations don’t re-occur, but Cofer responded and said, “It is difficult to successfully enhance controls to ensure the proper approval of [Tangible Physical Property] disposals if the head of the agency directs subordinates to violate those controls.”

Cofer’s response to the report said that Shirk “over-ruled staff concerns” before donating the computers. Former Jacksonville State Attorney Harry Shorstein said Shirk’s use of staff time for his nonprofit alone warrants an investigation by the State Attorney’s Office.

“You’ve told me of pretty widespread misappropriations on the part of the public defender,” Shorstein said. “I think the media has a duty to point out corruption, malfeasance, if for no other reason to put a damper on future public officials who might consider doing the same thing.”

He also said that grand jury reviews help deter public officials from violating the law. Cofer said he told the State Attorney’s Office about many of these concerns when he took over the office in January 2017.

Following the Times-Union’s reporting in 2013 about past behavior by Shirk — including the illegal hiring and firing of some women, the deletion of records and the building of a private shower with public funds — Gainesville State Attorney Bill Cervone brought a case against Shirk to a grand jury. The grand jury declined to indict Shirk, but it asked then-Gov. Rick Scott to remove him from office, something Scott declined to do.

The auditor’s report focused on Shirk’s last year and a half. Thursday morning, Cervone said the grand jury might have indicted Shirk if he had done everything the auditor found before Cervone presented evidence to the grand jury. Cofer, who beat Shirk in the 2016 primary election by a three-to-one margin, invited the auditor general to investigate the office in April 2017. Cofer provided the office with a list of issues he wanted reviewed.

The Times-Union also requested all emails sent to or by Shirk in the calendar year 2016 in order to see whether any emails appeared to be deleted. Cofer said the office only has eight emails sent from Shirk’s official account, and 217 emails sent to it for that year. Cofer’s staff was able to also find another 1,057 emails sent to or from Shirk’s personal account that related to work. But some of those referred to emails from Shirk that the office didn’t have.

For comparison, Cofer said during the same time period in 2018, he sent or received nearly 11,000 emails from his official account.

One of Shirk’s post-election emails showed he criticized his employees for quickly providing public records to reporters. “I’m very concerned that multiple people in this agency have determined to drop the very important work that we do to make these requests their priority.”

Shirk still faces complaints from the Florida Commission on Ethics and the Florida Bar.

He initially agreed to a settlement for his ethics complaint, but the commission rejected the settlement as not being harsh enough. The Florida Bar’s grievance committee reviewing his complaint has not yet determined whether there’s probable cause that he violated attorney rules. Cofer said he has drafted another Florida Bar complaint to file against Shirk, in addition to the one Shirk is currently facing.

Shirk gave away the nine handguns to a former employee who was a member of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club. Cofer said there are no records that indicate Shirk ensured the people who got the guns were legally allowed to have guns.

Shirk also booked expensive travel, purportedly for office business, that included an $806-a-night hotel room in New York for an immigration law conference, despite the fact that state public defenders don’t practice immigration law. Since leaving the office, Shirk’s primary legal practice is now immigration law.

In total, he spent $4,010 on that New York trip, and he spent another $2,513 for a trip to San Diego to learn more about driving-while-intoxicated cases. He didn’t share anything he learned with his attorneys after the trips, Cofer said, which were both booked after he lost the August 2016 election.

Shirk wasn’t the only one booking expensive trips with state dollars after the August election.

Justin Estes, who handled information technology for Shirk and had his salary more than doubled after the election, booked a conference in Los Angeles for more than $3,100, which included $900 for a hotel. Estes then resigned on Shirk’s final day in office.

The report also confirmed reporting by the Times-Union that showed in the days after he lost reelection, Shirk gave substantial pay raises to 14 employees, including Estes and other friends and political allies in the office. In some cases, he more than doubled their salaries. Nine of those resigned on Shirk’s last day, and a 10th was fired the next day.

In total, Shirk spent about $65,000 of the office’s budget on those salary increases. He did not have any justification for the raises. According to the report, Shirk did not always keep employees’ evaluations in their personnel files. Cofer said Shirk did this in order to hide public records. “If he had a negative thing about someone he wanted to write it up, he didn’t put it in their personnel file. He’d do it in a memo and … keep it in a separate file.”

State offices are supposed to follow a procedure before giving things away to ensure that the objects are actually surplus. The auditor reviewed how Shirk gave away $21,611 worth of stuff and found that more than half of the items — $11,764 worth — was given away without following any procedure. That included nine handguns and 14 computers, 10 of which were given on his second to last day in office.

Cofer alleged that those 10 computers likely contained public records that the office no longer has access to because the hard drives were removed. “I’m certain. I know there are public records gone. … [IT Director] Joe Frasier in 2013, when everything was falling apart, did a backup of all the emails. … most of those emails are no longer in our system.”

Estes told the Times-Union he believed his salary increase was justified. The day after Shirk lost re-election, he fired Frasier, Estes’ boss, which meant Estes had more responsibilities. One of those responsibilities, Estes said, included removing the hard drives from the computers. Estes said he did not delete information on the hard drives, but he stored them in a box in the IT work room. He also said the December conference, which came just weeks before Shirk’s last day in office, was worth it because he learned a lot about computer security issues. Estes said that same month, Frasier told him he should probably start looking for new work, which is why he resigned from his job on Shirk’s last day.

Estes donated $200 to Shirk, and he said he’s never donated to another candidate. The report also said Shirk gave $90,000 to a lobbying firm, The Fiorentino Group. The Times-Union had previously reported that Shirk had hired the group with state funds, but it wasn’t clear how much he had paid the group. According to the report, Shirk “selected the firm and developed the contract without staff involvement,” and there are no records that indicate he used a competitive selection process.

The Fiorentino Group then gave Shirk $1,000 in his re-election bid, and lobbyist Marty Fiorentino gave Shirk $500. A political action committee with the same address and suite number as the Fiorentino Group gave another $500. Shirk’s was the only state campaign that Fiorentino donated to in 2016.

Estes said Shirk almost solely used his private email account, but there was no way for the office store emails that Shirk received or sent from that account unless he was emailing someone else in the office. For example, Estes confirmed, the office couldn’t retain any emails between Shirk and Fiorentino. But Estes said he doesn’t think Shirk was technologically adept enough to know how to delete records.

The report also noted issues Shirk had with the two state vehicles assigned to him. The state paid for his personal fuel usage, and he didn’t reimburse the state. He also got into a car crash about seven miles away from the office on a Sunday in June 2016, but he claimed he was working at the time. He did not say the nature of his work, though, and the report said it wasn’t clear why the state, rather than Shirk himself, paid $2,370 for the accident.

In an email a few days after the accident, Shirk told his assistant that the accident “was my fault. I was pulling out of a parking lot and side swiped the bumper of another unoccupied vehicle. … What do I need to do to be sure the other guy gets his vehicle fixed? Unfortunately he drives a BMW but works for the Tom Bush and said the auto body there would do the work. I did not notify [chief investigator] Jerry [Coxen] and would prefer not to have others be involved in this.” Shirk also owes the state for about $700 in fuel costs and $2,200 in retirement payments.

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Public Defender Matt Shirk exchanged dozens of text messages with fired female employee

OCT 17, 2013 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAR 19, 2021

Public Defender Matt Shirk exchanged dozens of text messages with a former female employee whom his wife confronted because of inappropriate text messages, according to Shirk’s cellphone records.

Shirk has acknowledged that he exchanged text messages with former employee Tiffany Ice, and has admitted some of those messages were inappropriate, but he hasn’t been willing to go into detail about the messages.

The records provide some detail about the exchanges between Ice and Shirk. The documents show the dates and times a text was sent or received by Shirk.

The heavily redacted documents show that from early May to early June, Shirk exchanged 52 text messages with the phone number belonging to Ice, then the Public Defender’s data-entry operator.

The redactions, which sometimes include an entire day’s worth of exchanges and the dates of those exchanges, were made by Matt Shirk without the input of Rogers Towers Law Firm, which was tapped by Shirk to help the Public Defender’s Office fulfill records requests on a pro-bono basis.

The messages between Shirk and Ice that are visible on the documents were sent on weekdays during typical work hours.

The redacted documents do not show any text messages exchanged between Shirk and the cellphone number belonging to Kayle Chester. Chester is a former legal assistant at the office and former employee of the Whisky River nightclub. She and Shirk were perceived by some in the office to have an unusually close relationship.

Chester, Ice and a third woman who is a friend of Chester’s and also was an employee of Whisky River were all fired in June from the Public Defender’s Office after Shirk’s wife confronted Ice in the office.

The Times-Union asked Matt Shirk and Public Defender’s Office spokesman Matt Bisbee whether Shirk redacted any information from his phone records showing communication with Ice, Chester or any other subordinate.

Neither Shirk nor Bisbee responded. A statement by the office said the redactions “were private, personal communications.”

The content of the messages between Ice and Shirk are unknown.

Shirk has admitted sending his subordinates, including Ice, inappropriate text messages.

He wouldn’t go into detail about the nature of the messages but said he sent Ice “funny e-cards.” Michelle Shirk wouldn’t go into detail, but she told the Times-Union the messages were more than just e-cards.

What was contained in those text messages prompted Shirk’s wife to visit the Public Defender’s Office in June and confront Ice about Ice’s relationship with Shirk.

Shortly after Michelle Shirk’s confrontation with Ice, Chester, Ice and the third woman were fired.

Ice’s personnel file shows she was placed on a 30-day improvement plan in November 2012, at the end of her first 90 days, for errors in her work. She was recommended to be retained in January.

The personnel file provided to the Times-Union shows no further complaints about her work until June.

ce’s June 25 termination letter said she was fired for continued errors.

Ice’s attorney, Bill Sheppard, had scheduled a “name-clearing hearing” for Ice last week at the Public Defender’s Office. But the hearing was canceled because Sheppard didn’t like the proposed structure of the hearing.

Sheppard instead sent a letter stating that the Public Defender’s Office’s termination for Ice was incorrect and false in several areas. Sheppard wrote that Ice wasn’t written up for any mistakes while at the office.

The letter acknowledges that Ice made some mistakes early in her employment, but it said that’s because Ice received less training than her predecessor.

On Aug. 29, Gov. Rick Scott appointed special prosecutor Bill Cervone to investigate Shirk’s office.

Bankers

Mortgage Servicer PHH Ocwen: Scammin’ Homeowners Since 2008, with Government and Judicial Approval

The mortgage servicing industry constantly refuses, misallocates or has some other reason for not crediting customers mortgages with the payment to induce foreclosure.

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News 6, DEO save 72-year-old Titusville woman from foreclosure in home assistance glitch

‘This just made our Christmas,’ woman’s daughter says

DEC 13, 2022 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: DEC 14, 2022

This known scheme to defraud citizens of their home and put them into foreclosure prematurely has been endorsed by the judiciary and government to aid the theft of affordable housing for the benefit of Wall St.

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – A 72-year-old Titusville woman and her daughter found themselves on the brink of foreclosure after Homeowner Assistance Funds issued by the Department of Economic Opportunity went missing.

Nilda Molina and her daughter, Millie Aguirre, contacted News 6 and Make Ends Meet after their mortgage company, NewRez C/O PHH Mortgage Services, issued a foreclosure notice the day before Thanksgiving.

“Not a single payment has been received by the mortgage company,”

Aguirre told News 6.

“I’m nervous, I feel like I’m worse off now (than) before I entered the program.”

Molina has lived in her Titusville home for nearly 30 years, and according to documents obtained by News 6, was approved for mortgage and utility funds for 18 months on July 13, 2022.

Aguirre said the DEO indicated the payments had been issued, but according to the mortgage company, the funds were never deposited into Mrs. Molina’s account.

The DEO confirmation letter said the payments “will be made directly to your service provider and may process at different times.”

News 6 contacted the DEO and a representative got to work immediately.

The money, all 6 months of missing mortgage payments, were issued Monday.

In an email to News 6, her daughter wrote in part,

“We got results. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! We could not have gotten this done without you. This just made our Christmas.”

During our interview, Aguirre said she and her mother felt News 6 would have the answer.

“The first thing we thought was we should come to Getting Results on Channel 6 and see if they could help us,”

Aguirre said.

“Here you are and I thank you so much for that.”

In a statement to News 6, DEO Press Secretary Leigh McGowan said in part,

“If homeowners are not seeing their awarded Florida HAF funds applied to their mortgage account, we encourage Florida HAF recipients to review their Florida HAF award letter. All award letters are emailed to Florida HAF recipients when they are initially awarded assistance.”

Each award letter states the name of the company to which the payment will be made.

If the name of the company in the award letter differs from the name of the company their mortgage payments are regularly sent to each month, the best course of action for Florida HAF recipients is to contact the Florida Homeowner Assistance Fund Customer Assistance Center for assistance at 833-987-8997, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

LIF Comment: More information about  homeowner assistance in states outside Florida (nationwide) is available on CFPB’s website.

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Thank you for your trust, belief and support in our conviction to help Floridian residents and citizens nationwide take back their freedom. Your Donations and your Voice are so important.



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Editors Choice

A Message for Felon Francis Santa: We Cannot Be Bribed. Stop the Harassment

Once a person has been convicted of a felony, he or she can be considered a felon for life, according to the strict meaning of the word.

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Dear Santa…..

DEC. 12., 2022

We’ve set aside your plethora of harassing emails and bribes for many months. Indeed, we have never contacted the ex-wife below, who is desperate to provide more unfavorable information about you, Francis “Frank” Santa.

But now your emails are becoming both incessant and threatening, which means we have to publish all the information for our own safety.

You are a convicted felon Francis “Frank” Santa. Considering your stalking behavior, that makes you a very dangerous and untrustworthy person.

We are stating in this public forum: cease and desist from your writings, threats and stop tryin’ to bribe us with “donations”  – which are not donations as they are based on LIF and LIT removing an article about you, which is based on the real truth, no bull.

And remember Francis Santa, you are the one who came charging at us with a takedown request for the Ringel’s, indicted in NYC.

In return, all we did was google you and your business to find out who we were dealin’ with.

That’s when we discovered the information about your criminal past, which was recovered from publicly accessible information.

LIF and LIT didn’t ‘destroy’ you Frank, you did that all by yourself.

May 17, 2022

your-name

Francis Santa

your-email

fs.businessimagelift@gmail.com

your-subject

I am coming hat in hand to you for help.

your-message

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am sincerely and humbly asking you for help. I do not know who I upset to find myself being personally punished on your website but there my be a good reason for which an apology on my part may be need.

If I have wronged someone there I am deeply sorry.

I am a spiritual person and have worked very hard to get to where I am in my life after having my world destroyed 11 years ago.

I have changed and I take responsibility for all my past issues, but more important to me now in life is that if I have done something to someone to offended them even without knowing why, I apologize and more forward.

Please contact me back by email or phone (305)967-3168 so I can make amends.

I do know who has so much dislike for me and took the time to hurt my wife, children and grandchildren and me and but I must have hurt them deeply for the posting to be put up about me.

Last, please understand I am not asking for sympathy or asking you to remove it.

If I have harmed someone in the last 6 years and I am wrong for something I personal did then I deserve it but also if I did nothing I don’t.

Again, please contact me and tell me what I have to do to make things right and discuses this.

Very Respectfully,

Francis

Jun 9, 2022

your-name

Francis Santa

your-email

franksanta054@yahoo.com

your-subject

Need your help

your-message

Dear Sir/Madam,

I sent an email to info@lawsinflorida.com and did not receive a response.

I really need your help, please see attached.

Multi_Upload

https://lawsinflorida.com/wp-content/uploads/wp_dndcf7_uploads/wpcf7-files/Francis-Santa-lawsinflorida.pdf

Jul 22, 2022

your-name

GINA PELLICCIO

your-email

deadmom1960@gmail.com

your-subject

Francis Frank Santa

your-message

I read with great interest your article on my former spouse – what you don’t know is that Mr. Santa is currently in arrears for child support in the amount of $196,000.

I can provide documentation for proof.

I find it quite amusing that this man cries poor mouth, continues to hide assets, resides in a gated community in Boca Raton and has started this bogus foundation.

Leopards do not change their spots –

You do realize he also spent 5 of a 15 year bid in NYS prison for a credit repair scam in which he stole 2.5 MILLION; was prosecuted by DA Morgenthau’s office and was ultimately released to the state of Florida for his parole and probation.

Probation doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what he is doing.

Child Support enforcement doesn’t give a rats ass and good luck trying to get in touch with someone.

I will never see that money he owes – – I can’t even get a life insurance policy on him – something he was to provide for his FIRST born – not the other children he has – one of which is a convicted counterfeitter.

https://www.wpbf.com/article/santa-arrested-in-nordstrom-parking-garage/1311487#

https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/delray-beach-man-sentenced-making-and-possessing-counterfeit-currency

I encourage LIF to contact me.

October 13, 2022

your-name

Francis Santa

your-email

f.michael@businessimagelift.com

your-subject

Need your help ( https://lawsinflorida.com/where-is-he-now-fraudster-francis-santa-was-sentenced-to-88-months-for-conspiracy/ )

your-message

I sent you an email many months ago.

I have put my life back together.

The past 11 years I have paid dearly for what happen.

My family has suffered the most because of the issue.

As for myself I feel that what I went threw changed me and made me a better person and took me off a bad path.

I am trying so hard to move on.

Your article about me is destroying my family.

Please contact me back to see if you can help me in some way to remove or de-index this.

I do understand that you spent a tremendous in research and time posting this.

I have no problem paying and administrative fees that you need.

I am coming to you with hat in hand for your help

Where Is He Now? Fraudster Francis Santa Was Sentenced to 88 Months for Conspiracy

Respectfully,

Francis

December 1, 2022

Donor Comment: I wanted to donate more and will each month when I have extra money.

December 1, 2022

Donor Comment: I would like to also advertise with you.

December 8, 2022

Subject:

francis santa where is he now

From:

the former mrs santa <deadmom1960@gmail.com>

Submitted on: Dec 8, 2022 at 20:26

your-name

the former mrs santa

your-email

deadmom1960@gmail.com

your-subject

francis santa where is he now

your-message

Homepage

ha ha now he is offering a scholarship???

lol scam people into giving money to his “foundation” that isn’t a 501c3 – so he can give it to “other” charities. Why don’t I just donate to them myself and get the tax write off?

are people that stupid?

December 8, 2022

your-name

FORMER MRS SANTA

your-email

DEADMOM1960@GMAIL.COM

your-subject

FRANCIS SANTA – WHERE ARE THEY NOW

your-message

YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN KNOWING THAT IN ADDITIONAL TO THE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE MR SANTA HAS SCAMMED – HE CURRENTLY OWES OVER 195000 IN BACK CHILD SUPPORT WHILST LIVING LARGE IN BOCA – HE HAS MADE HIMSELF UNTOUCHABLE SINCE NO ASSETS ARE IN HIS NAME.

ARE YOU ALSO AWARE THAT HE SERVED 5-15 IN NYS PRISON FOR A DEBT RELIEF SCAM?

December 12, 2022

 I am waiting patiently to talk to you regarding your posting on LIF.  I am being as respectful as I can at this time.

 I know you own the site along with LIT and you are responsible for the posting.

You have turned my life upside down for no reason.  The internet can be very cruel.

I have suffered enough with my family and you have put my life in danger.

I could understand if I did something wrong but that is not the case.

Please remove the posting or de-index it from the search engines.  I am not the only person you did this to for no reason.

 What I find interesting is that you are a media company helping people and you are also a company that destroys people.

Do your clients know this?

All I want is for you to remove the posting.

You have hurt me for more than 9 months.

I think that you made your point (whatever it was)

Donor Comment: Thank you

Boca man pleads guilty to conspiring to bribe bankers and fake financial documents

AUG 9, 2011 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: APR 22, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH — The owner of a Boca Raton company pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to bribe local bankers and falsify financial documents to secure more than $1.5 million in fraudulent small business loans and lines of credit.

Francis Santa admitted orchestrating what federal prosecutors have described as an unique form of fraud: enlisting corrupt bankers to approve business loans for clients with poor credit histories. Santa and his employees at Palm Beach Business Consultants attempted to push through more than $10 million in bogus loans and lines of credit since the firm opened in 2003, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

After federal authorities caught on to Santa’s scheme, he began working with them and agreed to introduce an undercover FBI agent to the bankers. The sting culminated in January with the arrests of 15 people, including Santa, a Broward Schools assistant principal, a former Broward Sheriff’s investigative aide and seven Broward and Palm Beach bankers.

YOUR DONATION(S) WILL HELP US:

• Continue to provide this website, content, resources, community and help center for free to the many homeowners, residents, Texans and as we’ve expanded, people nationwide who need access without a paywall or subscription.

• Help us promote our campaign through marketing, pr, advertising and reaching out to government, law firms and anyone that will listen and can assist.

Thank you for your trust, belief and support in our conviction to help Floridian residents and citizens nationwide take back their freedom. Your Donations and your Voice are so important.



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Florida

August 2022 List of Thievin’ and Lyin’ Attorneys In the State of Florida

The consistent theme for August 2022, and indeed most months, is Florida lawyers theft of client funds and settlement funds.

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August 1, 2022 Disciplinary Actions

AUG 1, 2022 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: NOV 15, 2022

The Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined six attorneys, suspending three and disbarring three.

And LIF’s highlighted a few of these rogue attorneys before.

Timmy W. Cox, Sr., 7401 S.W. 16th St., Plantation,

suspended effective immediately following a July 13 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 2014)

Cox failed to respond to official Bar inquiries.

The Bar filed its Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause on April 29.

The Florida Supreme Court ordered Cox to show cause by May 18. Cox failed to file a response to the court’s Order to Show Cause.

(Case No: SC22-598)

James F. Feuerstein III, 22724 Stallion Dr., Sorrento,

disbarred effective immediately per a July 21 court order as Feuerstein is currently suspended for 91 days (by court order dated April 21).

(Admitted to practice: 1987)

Feuerstein failed to respond to official Bar inquiries in three separate Bar matters and failed to file a response to the Court’s Order to Show Cause.

(Case No: SC22-618)

Thievin’ from Your Own Mamma’s Estate

John Hadsall, 18198 3rd St. E., Redington Shores,

disbarred, effective 30 days following a July 7 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1980)

Hadsall was found to have improperly transferred assets from the estate of his mother for personal use.

He failed to show by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that he acted in good faith throughout the transactions and failed to show that his mother acted freely, intelligently, and voluntarily in gifting him funds from her accounts.

Hadsall subsequently attempted to render himself judgment proof to thwart the estate’s attempt to recoup the funds.

(Case No: SC21-1444)

Melanie L. Johnson, 4790 Longbow Dr., Titusville,

disbarred effective immediately following a July 14 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 2004)

Johnson misappropriated client funds.

In response to the Bar’s request for records needed to perform a compliance audit of her law office trust account, Johnson reconstructed her records and submitted records to the Bar that contained false and misleading information.

(Case No: SC21-1675)

Thievin’ from Clients, and Received a PPP Loan

Bradley Nephase Laurent, 8615 Commodity Circle, Suite 6, Orlando,

emergency suspended effective 30 days following a July 14 court order but to cease accepting new clients as of July 14.

(Admitted to practice: 2005)

Laurent misappropriated client funds from his law office trust account, some of which he repaid from the proceeds of a Paycheck Protection Program loan he obtained on behalf of his law firm for COVID-19 relief.

(Case No: SC22-851)

Thievin’ from Clients, and Lyin’ to the Bar

James Santos Wilkie, 1333 S. Ocean Blvd., Suite 1323, Pompano Beach,

emergency suspended effective immediately following a July 19 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 2013)

Wilkie misappropriated client settlement funds and made misrepresentations to the Bar during their investigation.

(Case No: SC22-911)

Meet James S. Wilkie – Managing Partner

James was originally born in North Miami Beach; however, due to his father being a United States Marine Corps Officer (Col. James R. Wilkie Ret.), he lived in dozens of places across the continental United States. James graduated from Collierville High School in Collierville, Tennessee, where he elected to remain and receive his Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Memphis. While attending the U of M, he joined the prestigious fraternity Pi Kappa Phi. Furthermore, Mr. Wilkie went on to make the Dean and Presidents list through his undergraduate education. He was accepted to Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing Michigan, where he placed in the top 4% of his class.

Wanting to be closer to his family in South Florida, he transferred to Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, where he graduated with his Doctorate of Juris Prudence in 2011. Mr. Wilkie attended the Nova Southeastern University Family Law Clinic, where he worked with both The Thomas Family Law Firm in Memphis Tennessee, and Legal Aid of Palm Beach County Florida. During law school, his concentration was Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, Family Law, Civil Litigation, and Dependency. He accepted a position with Katz & Katz, P.A. where he practiced a wide variety of law, including but not limited too; Plaintiff Personal Injury Protection Litigation, Personal Injury Plaintiff, Contract Actions, and Criminal Defense. Eventually in 2013, Mr. Wilkie opened the doors to The Wilkie Law Firm, P.A. practicing mainly Plaintiff Personal Injury and complex negligence cases. He remained the managing partner of The Wilkie Law Firm until his assentation to of counsel with Salpeter Gitkin, LLP through his now conjoined practice in 2018.

Mr. Wilkie has recovered millions of dollars for his clients and boasts a wide variety of trial experience in multiple areas of law. Mr. Wilkie values himself as a well versed civil litigation attorney utilizing his knowledge and extended experience to provide his clients with the most advantageous outcome. Having successfully co-counselled cases in Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi, Mr. Wilkie’s wide variety of experience and aggressive nature continues to achieve leaps and bounds for his clients.

James is a long time Florida resident and enjoys golf, softball, basketball, fishing and spending time with his wife Crystal and his two daughters Amilia and Anessa.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident Injuries

If you have been struck by a motor vehicle while riding your bike or walking then it may be necessary to seek financial compensation for your injuries. Medical bills, lost wages from time off work, and other considerations can create serious complications for your life beyond the pain and suffering associated with your injuries.

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Car Accidents

If you have been hurt in a car accident, do not accept any settlement that is offered by an insurance company without first reviewing it with a skilled and experienced attorney who can advise you more thoroughly about your legal rights and options.

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Motorcycle Accidents

If you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another party’s negligence or recklessness, then you may be able to file a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation for damages rather than simply relying upon an insurance claim to meet your needs.

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Truck Accidents

If you have been hurt in an automobile wreck involving a commercial truck then we can help you to explore the possible merits of legal action and to determine whether the driver, trucking company, truck manufacturer, or another third-party may be liable.

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Catastrophic Injuries

If you have suffered life-complicating injuries and would like to know more about the possible advantages of filing a civil lawsuit then you should consult with a skilled and experienced attorney about your case.

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Cruise Ship & Boating Accidents

If you have been hurt in an accident involving another person’s failure to properly operate, design, or maintain a watercraft then you might wish to consider filing a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation for your injuries. You may be able to recover the resources that you need to address medical bills, boat repair costs, and other appropriate damages.

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Premises Liability

Premises Liability If you or your loved one has been hurt in an accident that occurred on another party’s property then you may be able to pursue financial compensation through a civil lawsuit. Medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages may be recoverable.

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Medical Malpractice

If you or your loved one has been the victim of a medical mistake and has experienced adverse health effects as a result, then you may wish to investigate the possibility of pursuing a medical malpractice claim. A successful lawsuit can gain you the resources that you need for present and future care and may also help you obtain financial compensation for other relevant damages.

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Products Liability

If you have been sickened or hurt by a dangerous product then you may be able to file a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation for your injuries. A successful legal action might help you cover the costs of medical bills, lost wages, and other considerations appropriate to the specific details of your case.

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Personal Injury

If you have been hurt in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness and are looking for a compassionate and committed legal representative, then we can help you fight to hold them accountable for the harm that you have suffered.

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Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist

If you have been in an automobile accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist then it may be possible to pursue additional financial compensation through a civil lawsuit. A successful legal action might gain you the resources necessary to make up the gap between the policy maximum and the damages you have experienced.

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Wrongful Death

While prevailing in a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your loved one’s death may seem like a hollow victory, the reality is that it may be the best or only way to ensure that you have the financial resources that you need to cope with the painful adjustments you must make.

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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 110,000 members of The Florida Bar. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps. 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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