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Outrageous Dishonesty and Perjury by Florida Lawyer Defended by Two Florida Supreme Court Justices

Dishonesty in connection with the practice of law is prejudicial to the administration of justice, and James’ dishonesty is clear from the record.

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Lawyer is suspended for texting witness during phone deposition; how did opposing counsel find out?

NOV 22, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JAN 29, 2022
PERSONAL RESIDENCE OF TEXTIN’ LAWYER DEREK JAMES

A Florida lawyer has been suspended for 91 days for texting advice to a witness during a phone deposition and then failing to come clean when questioned by the opposing counsel and a judge.

The Florida Supreme Court suspended lawyer Derek Vashon James of Maitland, Florida, in a Nov. 18 decision.

Law360 and Law.com have coverage, while the Legal Profession Blog has highlights from the opinion.

The incident happened in July 2018 during a deposition of an adjuster who worked for an employer in a workers’ compensation case. James represented the employer. The court reporter refused to swear in the adjuster because she testified by phone, rather than by video.

The opposing lawyer, Toni Villaverde, heard typing sounds during the deposition and asked James and the witness whether they were texting. James replied that he was only receiving a text from his daughter, according to the court opinion.

Villaverde asked James to stop texting and put his phone away.

He said he would do so, but in fact, he continued texting, the state supreme court said.

After a break, James resumed texting—but this time, he inadvertently sent the texts to Villaverde instead of the witness, the Florida Supreme Court said.

These are the misdirected texts:

“11:53 a.m. (James): Just say it anyway

11:53 a.m. (James): Just say 03/28

11:54 a.m. (James): In addition to the 03/28/2018 email containing the signed release I show …

11:55 a.m. (James): Don’t give an absolute answer

11:55 a.m. (James): All I can see at this time but I cannot rule out existence

11:55 a.m. (James): It’s a trap

11:56 a.m. (James): Then say that is my best answer at this time.”

Villaverde stopped the deposition when she noticed the texts.

In the days after the deposition, James tried to convince Villaverde that he sent the texts during the break, rather than during questioning. Villaverde sought production of the texts and an inspection by the judge.

The judge of compensation claims found that the texts were sent during the deposition, and they were not protected by attorney-client privilege.

In the hearing on Villaverde’s request,

“James failed to be transparent and forthright with the judge regarding his texts”

to the witness, the Florida Supreme Court said.

“He made it appear that he only texted his wife and daughter during the deposition, and that he sent the text messages to [the witness] during the break in the deposition.”

In disciplinary proceedings, James said workers’ compensation proceedings are informal, and he wanted to help the witness because Villaverde kept talking over the witness or interrupting with objections.

A referee had recommended a 30-day suspension, but the Florida Supreme Court said the punishment was insufficient.

The referee had cited mitigating factors that included a lack of prior misconduct, a cooperative attitude during disciplinary proceedings and a good reputation for honesty.

The referee found that James had violated an ethics rule that says lawyers may not obstruct access to evidence. The referee found no violation, however, of an ethics rule banning conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

The Florida Supreme Court found that both rules were violated. Dishonesty in connection with the practice of law is prejudicial to the administration of justice, and “James’ dishonesty is clear from the record,” the Florida Supreme Court said.

Two of the court’s seven justices would have imposed a 30-day suspension.

(Justice Alan Lawson was the most vocal in his concurring opinion joined by Justice Jamie R. Grosshans).

James’ lawyer, Barry Rigby, spoke with Law360 and Law.com about the case.

“Derek James has the utmost respect for the legal system and the Florida Supreme Court,”

Rigby told Law360.

“He’s very sorry to have disappointed his firm and colleagues. This case is a wake-up call that attorneys can’t relax their ethical standards during proceedings taking place electronically.”

Rigby told Law.com that James is disappointed in the result, but he is “laying the foundation to become reinstated as soon as possible.”

Justice Alan Lawson

BIRTHPLACE:  Lakeland, Florida, in 1961

Florida Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson

SPOUSE:  Julie Carlton Lawson

CHILDREN: Two

GRANDCHILDREN: Two

LEGAL OFFICES & POSITIONS:  
Justice, Supreme Court of Florida, 2016 – present;
Chief Judge, Fifth District Court of Appeal, 2015 – 2016;
Judge, Fifth District Court of Appeal, 2006 – 2016;
Judge, Ninth Judicial Circuit, 2002 – 2005;
Assistant County Attorney, Orange County, Florida, 1997 – 2001;
General Counsel, Verses Wear, Inc., 1996;
Associate & Partner, Steel Hector & Davis, Miami & Tallahassee, 1987 – 1995.

STATE COURT SYSTEM ADVISORY COMMITTEES:
Budget Oversight Committee, 2017 – Present;
Trial Court Budget Commission, 2017 – Present;
Standing Committee on Fairness & Diversity, 2017 – Present;
Code & Rules of Evidence Committee, 2017 – Present;
Probate Rules Committee, 2017 – Present;
Space Planning Committee, 2017 – Present.

BAR & EXTRAJUDICIAL OFFICES & ACTIVITIES:
Florida District Court of Appeal Budget Commission, Chair, 2013 – 2016;
Appellate Courts Technology Committee, Member, 2008 – 2016; Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges, Legislative Chair, 2011 – 2013;
Appellate Practice Section, Fifth District Representative, 2006 – 2014;
Appellate Court Technology Committee, Fifth District Representative, 2006 – 2016;
Rules of Criminal Procedure Committee, 2004 – 2009;
First Central Florida Inns of Court, 2002 – 2007 & 2016 – Present; Orange County Bar Association, 1996 – Present;
Former Test Writer (Evidence) and Grader, Florida Board of Bar Examiners;
Code and Rules of Evidence Committee, Past Member.

DEGREES: J.D., Florida State University, 1987, with Highest Honors; B.S., Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management (with emphasis in Natural Resource  Management), Clemson University, 1983, with Highest Honors; A.A., Tallahassee Community College, 1981, with Highest Honors.

HONORS AND DISTINCTIONS:
Martindale-Hubbell “A.V.” attorney rating; Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency, Outstanding Jurist Award (2005); University Graduate Award and Fellowship, Florida State University; O’Kelly Civil Trial Practice Award and Scholarship, Florida State University; Book Awards in Evidence and Legal History, Florida State University; Rhodes Scholarship Nominee, Clemson University; Hartzog Award and Scholarship, Clemson University; Order of the Coif.

CIVIC ACTIVITIES:
Orthodox Church of St. Stephen (Member);
First Presbyterian Church of Orlando (Member);
Vision Orlando (Board Member);
House of Hope (Former Board Member and Volunteer);
Surgical and Medical Assistance Relief Teams (Volunteer);
Hope for Honduras (Volunteer);
2008 Boston Marathon Qualifier and Finisher.

Office Information

Justice Lawson’s office number is (850) 921-1096.  His judicial assistant is Deborah Riddell, his career staff attorney is Jessica Slatten, and his term clerks are Marianne Strassle and Michael Habib.  The mailing address is 500 South Duval Street, Tallahassee FL 32399-1925.

Attorneys or law students interested in clerkships in this office should check our Law Clerk Recruitment Page. There also is information on Internships.

All inquiries about this page: publicinformation@flcourts.org

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC: The Code of Judicial Conduct governing behavior by judges forbids the Justices of the Florida Supreme Court to discuss pending cases with the public.  Please do not call the Court expecting to speak with a Justice about any case.  If you have a comment to make, please mail it to the Clerk’s Office at 500 S. Duval St., Tallahassee FL 32399.  However, the Court is only allowed to consider arguments made in the courtroom and in documents properly filed by actual parties in the case as authorized by law and the Rules of Court.  The Court cannot ethically read or consider any other opinions or arguments about the case. Communications that do not meet these legal requirements cannot be forwarded to the Justices.

Justice Jamie R. Grosshans

Justice Jamie R. Grosshans was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court on September 14, 2020 by Governor Ron DeSantis. Previously she was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in 2018 by Governor Rick Scott. Prior to her appointment to the appellate court, she served as an Orange County Court Judge in the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida where she presided over criminal and civil matters.

Justice Grosshans was raised in Brookhaven, Mississippi and graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi School of Law. During law school, she clerked for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi. Following admittance to the Florida Bar, she served as an Assistant State Attorney for the Ninth Circuit of Florida in both the misdemeanor and felony divisions where she tried numerous criminal jury trials.

Justice Grosshans later entered private practice and founded her own law firm where she focused on family law and criminal defense matters for nearly ten years.  During this time she also served as an Adjunct Professor at Valencia College where she taught Hospitality Law for the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. She also frequently volunteered as a guardian ad litem with the Orange County Legal Aid Society. Justice Grosshans has served on state court system advisory committees and has been involved in numerous activities with the Florida Bar and other legal organizations.

Justice Grosshans regularly speaks to lawyers and law students on topics such as challenges in the practice of law, the role of judges, professionalism and respect in the legal profession, criminal law, and family law.

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Biography

TONI L. VILLAVERDE is a lawyer that concentrates  and specializes in the field of Workers Comp.  This area of  the law deals with accident and injuries that take place on the job. 

Her professional legal experience spans more than 30 years and includes  running a successful private practice.  Before moving into private  practice, Villaverde was also an Assistant State Attorney for the State  of Florida and in-house counsel for a  Fortune 500 Insurance company.

Villaverde has extensive courtroom litigation experience that  has yielded exceptional financial results her clients.  Additionally, her appellate writing and oral arguments has secured success in the Appellate level in the State of Florida.

 Her current litigation experience is with workers comp, civil  litigation as well as appellate writing and oral argument before the 1st District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee, Florida.

Villaverde represents a great number of injured employees at Miami International Airport, union employees, and labor issues for her clients.  She also has experience representing employers including city and state entities.  She has worked with clients in surrounding areas such as Fort Lauderdale and even Orlando, FL.

Villaverde is fluent in Spanish and English.   

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.

GET MORE INFO

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.

GET MORE INFO

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.

GET MORE INFO

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.

GET MORE INFO

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.

GET MORE INFO

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.

GET MORE INFO

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.

GET MORE INFO

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.

GET MORE INFO

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.

GET MORE INFO

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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• 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.

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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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Appellate Judges

The Eleventh Circuit Issues Another Glossed Opinion to Dismiss a Pro Se Lawyer’s Appeal

All motions under Rule 60(b) OTHER THAN those based on Rule 60(b)(4) must be made within a reasonable time.

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Henry v. City of Mount Dora, No. 21-14120 (11th Cir. Sep. 16, 2022)

REPUBLISHED BY LIT: SEP 17, 2022

Before LUCK, LAGOA, and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM:

Marie Henry, proceeding pro se, appeals the district court’s denial of her Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4), (d)(3) motion seeking relief from the court’s order dismissing her federal claims raised pursuant to several federal statutes, and remanding to state court her state law claims raised pursuant to Florida state law.

After filing an ethics complaint against one of the defendants and a pro se motion to disqualify a judge in a predatory lending case, Henry was referred to a Florida Bar grievance committee on two counts of misconduct and, after disciplinary proceedings that she challenged as defective, she was suspended for 6 months.

She originally filed her complaint in Florida state court, but the Florida Bar removed her case to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

On appeal, she argues, first, that the district court erred by denying her Rule 60 motion as untimely.

Second, she contends that the court abridged her due process right to an impartial tribunal, notice, and an opportunity to be heard by dismissing her federal claims where the defendants did not unanimously consent to removal, the court judicially noticed facts without a hearing, and the judge was a member of an adverse party.

Third, she asserts that the court erred by failing to analyze fraud on the court.

Finally, she argues that the court’s denial of an extension to file objections to a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation violated 28 U.S.C. § 2072.

I.

LIT OBJECTS TO THE PANEL SUMMARY, WHICH DOES NOT PROVIDE DATES FOR THE FLORIDA BAR SUSPENSION, WHICH WAS IN MARCH 2015 , AND GLOSSES OVER THE FACT IT TOOK THE BAR YEARS TO PROSECUTE AND REACH ITS FINAL DISPOSITION.

We review de novo the denial of a motion to set aside a judg-ment for voidness under Rule 60(b)(4).

Stansell v. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colom., 771 F.3d 713, 736 (11th Cir. 2014).

Motions pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4) are not subject to a reasonable timeliness requirement or a typical laches analysis.

Id. at 737-38.

But “Rule 60(b)(4) does not provide a license for litigants to sleep on their rights.”

United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 559 U.S. 260, 275 (2010).

When considering whether a movant slept on her rights, we have noted that subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived and have addressed the merits of the movant’s jurisdictional argument.

See Stansell, 771 F.3d at 737

(holding that movant waived “his right to object to any defects in the service of process or to any denial of his right to be heard” because he “sat on his rights for nine months” but addressing alleged jurisdiction issues).

We may affirm for any reason supported by the record.

Bircoll v. Miami-Dade Cnty., 480 F.3d 1072, 1088 n.21 (11th Cir. 2007).

Here, the district court applied a reasonable time requirement to Henry’s Rule 60(b)(4) motion, but that requirement was inappropriate.

See Stansell, 771 F.3d at 737.

However, Henry sat on her rights by waiting more than 2 years to file her Rule 60(b)(4) motion.

See id. at 737-38.

Thus, we affirm the district court as to any issues raised by Henry that do not relate to subject matter jurisdiction because she slept on her rights for over two years.

Bircoll, 480 F.3d at 1088 n.21.

Like in Stansell, however, we next consider Henry’s arguments that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

See Stansell, 771 F.3d at 737.

LIT DISAGREES WITH THE PANEL OPINION WHICH CONTRADICTS ITSELF AND THIS COURT’s OWN RULINGS TO RELY UPON A SCOTUS BANKRUPTCY CASE, WHICH IS INAPPOSITE TO THE FACTS HERE.

FURTHERMORE, THE CITE, WHEN READ FULLY, IS NOT ABOUT DELAY IN APPEALING AT ALL:

“United had actual notice of the filing of Espinosa’s plan, its contents, and the Bankruptcy Court’s subsequent confirmation of the plan. In addition, United filed a proof of claim regarding Espinosa’s student loan debt, thereby submitting itself to the Bankruptcy Court’s jurisdiction with respect to that claim…. United therefore forfeited its arguments regarding the validity of service or the adequacy of the Bankruptcy Court’s procedures by failing to raise a timely objection in that court.

United Student Aid Funds v. Espinosa, 559 U.S. 260, 275 (2010)

—————

Before HULL, MARCUS and WILSON, Circuit Judges.:

“All motions under Rule 60(b) other than those based on Rule 60(b)(4) must be made within a reasonable time. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c). ” Sec. & Exch. Comm’n v. J&J Mgmt. Consulting, No. 15-14628, at *4 (11th Cir. Oct. 3, 2016)

II.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4) provides relief from a final judgment or order if the judgment is void.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4).

A judgment is not void under Rule 60(b)(4) merely because it was erroneous.

Espinosa, 559 U.S. at 270.

Generally, it is void solely if it is premised on a jurisdictional error depriving the court of even arguable jurisdiction or on a due process violation that deprived a party of notice or the opportunity to be heard.

See id. at 271.

Federal courts always have jurisdiction to determine their own jurisdiction.

In re Nica Holdings, Inc., 810 F.3d 781, 789 (11th Cir. 2015).

The Rooker-Feldman1 doctrine is a narrow jurisdictional doctrine concerning a court’s subject matter jurisdiction that bars parties who lose a case in state court from appealing their loss in a federal district court.

Behr v. Campbell, 8 F.4th 1206, 1208 (11th Cir. 2021);

Alvarez v. Att’y Gen for Fla., 679 F.3d 1257, 1264 (11th Cir. 2012).

Neither res judicata nor the requirement that all defendants consent to removal is jurisdictional.

See Narey v. Dean, 32 F.3d 1521, 1524-25 (11th Cir. 1994);

In re Bethesda Mem’l Hosp., Inc., 123 F.3d 1407, 1410 n.2 (11th Cir. 1997).

An appellant abandons any argument not briefed before us, made in passing, or raised briefly without supporting arguments or authority.

Access Now, Inc. v. Sw. Airlines Co., 385 F.3d 1324, 1330 (11th Cir. 2004);

Sapuppo v. Allstate Floridian Ins. Co., 739 F.3d 678, 681 (11th Cir. 2014).

We can consider sua sponte an abandoned issue if a forfeiture exception applies and extraordinary circumstances warrant review.

United States v. Campbell, 26 F.4th 860, 873 (11th Cir. 2022) (en banc), petition for cert. filed (U.S. May 17, 2022) (No. 21-1468).

Here, Henry was not entitled to relief pursuant to her Rule 60(b)(4) motion because she did not identify any jurisdictional defect depriving the district court of arguable jurisdiction.

See Espinosa, 559 U.S. at 271.

The requirement that all defendants consent to removal is not jurisdictional.

See In re Bethesda Mem’l Hosp., Inc., 123 F.3d at 1410 n.2.

Res judicata is not jurisdictional either.

Narey, 32 F.3d at 1524–25.

Moreover, to the extent Henry argues that the district court erred by concluding the Rooker-Feldman doctrine applied, that is an argument over which the court had jurisdiction because a court always has jurisdiction to determine its own jurisdiction.

See In re Nica Holdings, Inc., 810 F.3d at 789.

Moreover, Henry points to no error in the district court’s application of the doctrine, nor to any other possible jurisdictional problem that might have deprived the district court of arguable jurisdiction.

Thus, we affirm the district court’s denial of Henry’s Rule 60(b)(4) motion.

1 Rooker v. Fid. Tr. Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feld- man, 460 U.S. 462 (1983).

III.

We review a district court’s denial of a Rule 60(d)(3) motion for relief from a judgment due to the opposing party’s fraud on the court for abuse of discretion.

See Cox Nuclear Pharm., Inc. v. CTI, Inc., 478 F.3d 1303, 1314 (11th Cir. 2007) (Rule 60(b)(3) motion).

Rule 60 does not limit a court’s power to set aside a judgment for fraud on the court.

Fed. R. Civ. P 60(d)(3).

A movant must prove fraud on the court with clear and convincing evidence.

See Booker v. Dugger, 825 F.2d 281, 283-84 (11th Cir. 1987)

(appealing denial of Rule 60(b) motion after denial of § 2254 petition).

Fraud on the court is limited to exceptional conduct like bribery or evidence falsification involving an attorney.

Rozier v. Ford Motor Co., 573 F.2d 1332, 1338 (5th Cir. 1978) (prior version of Rule 60).

We have held that, in independent actions challenging a judgment for fraud on the court, the alleged fraud must not have been raised in the original litigation, and it must not have been possible for the complaining party to raise the issue through reasonable diligence.

See Travelers Indem. Co. v. Gore, 761 F.2d 1549, 1552 (11th Cir. 1985).

Here, the district court addressed fraud on the court, and it correctly found that Henry failed to show sufficiently egregious conduct.

The conduct Henry points to on appeal, even if true, does not fall within the category of egregious conduct that can constitute fraud on the court, but instead amounts to, at most, arguably erroneous legal arguments, or conduct that occurred before she filed her complaint, neither of which come close to the necessary showing of fraud on the court.

See Rozier, 573 F.2d at 1338.

Furthermore, she does not challenge any conduct that was not raised before her Rule 60 motion or that she could not have raised through reasonable diligence.

See Travelers Indem. Co., 761 F.2d at 1552;

Bircoll, 480 F.3d at 1088 n.21.

Thus, we affirm the denial of her Rule 60(d)(3) motion.

LIT OBJECTS TO THE PANEL SUMMARY, WHICH DOES NOT PROVIDE THE ‘CONDUCT’ AT ISSUE, AND BLANKS HENRY’S ARGUMENTS.

IV.

We review a district court’s denial of a motion for extension of time for abuse of discretion.

See Lizarazo v. Miami-Dade Corr. & Rehab. Dep’t, 878 F.3d 1008, 1010-11 (11th Cir. 2017)

(extension of time to file motion for substitution).

A request for an extension should be granted if good cause is shown. Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b).

Here, Henry arguably has shown good cause for an extension in her motion for an extension to file objections to the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation concerning her Rule 60 motion because she asserted that she did not receive the report and recommendation until after the time for her to file objections had passed and she had been occupied caring for a family member.

We assume arguendo that she showed good cause for an extension.

However, the consequence for failing to object to the magistrate’s report and recommendation is waiver of the right to challenge those issues on appeal.

11th Cir. R. 3-1.

Because we have reviewed Henry’s arguments as if she had not waived them for failing to object, we affirm the denial of her motion for the reasons discussed above.

See R. 3-1; Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b).

AFFIRMED.

LIT OBJECTS TO THE SCANT LEGAL ANALYSIS OF THE ‘CONSEQUENCE FOR  FAILING TO OBJECT TO THE MAGISTRATE REPORT’.

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Florida

June’s List of Florida Lawyers Behavin’ Like, Well, Lawyers

The Florida Supreme Court disciplined 19 attorneys, disbarring three, suspending nine, reprimanding one, and revoking the licenses of six.

Published

on

June 2022 Florida Bar List of Disciplinary Actions Against Florida Lawyers

JUN 1, 2022 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JULY 9, 2022

BREAKING NEWS FROM LAWS IN FLORIDA .COM

The Florida Bar and Florida Supreme Court Has Decided it is Closing the Door on Transparency Due to LIF’s Detailed Investigations, based off the monthly Florida Lawyers behavin’ badly, e.g. the disciplinary list issued by the Florida Bar.

The Amount of Monies these Lawyers are Thievin’ is Now being Withheld from the Disciplinary Reports, where the Rogue Lawyer Admits Guilt and Agrees to the Bar Sanction(s). This is Brand New, before LIF Could Obtain the Amount of Money Finched via their Reporting.

That Stated, We’ll Just Harvest More Facts and Data about the Ochlocracy and Judicial Corruption along with these Rogue Florida Lawyers Behavin’ Badly and Post it On Our No BS Blogs. p.s., the Gov. Ron ‘The Unwanted Dictator” DeSantis is included.

It’s A Coverup. No Details of the Amount of Theft of Funds by the Fl. Bar or Supreme Court.

Charles H. Burns, 205 Golfview Dr., Tequesta, ($1.2M family residence) disciplinary revocation without leave to seek readmission effective 30 days following a May 19 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1980)

Burns was the subject of a Bar grievance that involved allegations of misappropriation.

(Case No: SC22-227)

Allan Campbell Should Have Been Disbarred. LIF Has Covered this Case in an Ongoing Series of Articles.

Allan Campbell, 1300 South Duncan Dr., Bldg. A, Tavares, suspended for three years and completion of The Florida Bar’s Ethics School effective 30 days following a May 19 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1990)

Campbell created a law firm with nonlawyers who were allowed to control Campbell’s law firm and the employees of the firm.

The nonlawyers engaged in the unlicensed practice of law with respect to both the timeshare exit cases and the mortgage foreclosure cases.

Campbell allowed others, including nonlawyers, to file pleadings using Campbell’s e-filing credentials without his approval.

Campbell made accusations under oath in federal court that he later admitted he did not know whether those accusations were true.

Additionally, the nonlawyer employees engaged in negotiations with timeshare resorts, under Campbell’s name as an attorney, located in jurisdictions in which Campbell was not admitted to the practice of law.

Campbell allowed the nonlawyers who ran his law firm to advertise and directly solicit potential clients in a manner that was not allowed by the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

Finally, one of the nonlawyers who ran Campbell’s law office told Campbell not to come back that the nonlawyer was changing the locks, preventing Campbell from having access to his own law firm.

A new law firm was created with a similar name under a different attorney who continued servicing the cases under Campbell’s law firm without any notice to the clients from Campbell or the new attorney.

(Case No: SC21-1495)

Persistent Offender, Sandra Coracelin’s Devious Behavior Results in Disbarment

Sandra Coracelin, 16211 S.W. 18th St., Miramar ($684k family residence), disbarred effective immediately following a May 23 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1997)

Coracelin filed her petition for reinstatement from a three-year suspension.

After determining Coracelin acted in contempt of the two previous orders of suspension, the Bar filed a petition for contempt and order to show cause.

Coracelin committed several misrepresentations to the Bar during the reinstatement proceedings and to an employer during her suspension, including attempting to tamper with a witness and thwart The Florida Bar’s investigation into her conduct during her suspension.

Coracelin also omitted three legal employments, and other jobs, from her petition for reinstatement and failed to disclose the income derived from them.

(Case No: SC20-1473)

Maite Diaz Banked on Florida Bar Reinstatement

Maite L. Diaz, P.O. Box 820300, Pembroke Pines, public reprimand by publication effective immediately following a May 12 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 2006)

This is a reciprocal discipline action that was issued by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida on June 25, 2019.

It ultimately resulted in Diaz being suspended by the bankruptcy court due to what the court described as gross incompetence.

Diaz appealed the order in federal court and sought reinstatement prior to the conclusion of the appeal.

She was reinstated in 2020 after a finding that she was fully rehabilitated.

(Case No: SC21-1754)

Perverted Florida Lawyer John Gillespie is to be Welcomed Back to the Florida Bar after 3 Years despite being Incarcerated for running his Law Office Like an Underage Prostitution Ring

John Gillespie, 252 8th Ave., Cramerton, NC, suspended for three years, effective immediately following an April 28 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1998)

Gillespie engaged in misconduct, including a conflict of interest, by engaging in a sexual relationship with a criminal client that resulted in the birth of a child.

Gillespie also made misrepresentations to the Bar during its investigation of this matter.

(Case No: SC20-974)

No Jail Nor Criminal Charges for Microcap Fraud

Lawyer Diane Harrison Disbarred and her Non-lawyer Husband a Co-Conspirator

Diane Joy Harrison, 6719 Bobby Jones Ct., Palmetto, ($570k homestead) disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission effective immediately following a May 5 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 2000)

Harrison was involved in one disciplinary matter pertaining to an SEC judgment entered against her.

(Case No: SC22-386)

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Diane J. Harrison, et al.,

Civil Action No. 18-cv-01003

(M.D. Fla., filed April 25, 2018 before Judge Steven Merryday)

SEC Charges Lawyer and Two Others in Microcap Fraud Schemes

Litigation Release No. 24122 / April 30, 2018

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil injunctive action on April 25, 2018, against a lawyer and two other individuals relating to two microcap schemes involving undisclosed “blank check” companies. In separate, settled administrative proceedings, the SEC charged another individual and two public companies related to one of the schemes.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that attorney Diane J. Harrison, Esq. and her husband, Michael J. Daniels, both of Palmetto, Florida, manufactured at least five microcap issuers with the undisclosed intent to sell them based on their status as public companies with purportedly unrestricted shares available for resale in the public markets.

According to the complaint, Daniels and Harrison created the false appearance that the companies were pursuing specific business plans with independent management and shareholders by installing friends and family (including defendant Catherine A. Bradaick-Zolla of Sarasota, Florida, who also provided other assistance to the fraud) as purported officers and shareholders.

The SEC alleges that, in reality, Daniels and Harrison controlled the shares.

According to the complaint, Daniels and Harrison sold four of the five companies to Andy Z. Fan of Las Vegas, Nevada and, along with Bradaick-Zolla, continued to provide support to Fan.

For example, the SEC alleges that Daniels, Harrison, and Bradaick-Zolla prepared false SEC filings, Harrison submitted false legal opinion letters, and Daniels and Bradaick-Zolla entered manipulative trades to artificially set the price of the stocks in the public market.

The SEC previously issued a stop order on the public offering of the fifth company in Daniels and Harrison’s pipeline.

The SEC’s complaint also alleges that Harrison participated in a separate fraudulent scheme involving at least 11 undisclosed blank check companies secretly controlled by Alvin S. Mirman and Sheldon R. Rose.

The SEC previously filed enforcement actions against Mirman and Rose, who were also convicted of criminal charges and sentenced to prison based on the same alleged conduct.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Harrison provided at least 21 false legal opinion letters in furtherance of Mirman and Rose’s scheme.

The SEC’s complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleges that Harrison and Daniels violated

Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”)

and

Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”)

and

Rules 10b-5 and Rule 13a-14 thereunder,

and

aided and abetted violations of Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act

and

Rules 12b-20, 13a-1, 13a-11, 13a-13 and 13a-14 thereunder.

The complaint also alleges that Daniels violated Section 9(a) of the Exchange Act, and that Harrison also violated Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act.

The complaint further alleges that Harrison and Bradaick-Zolla aided and abetted violations of

Section 17(a) of the Securities Act

and

Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act

and

Rule 10b-5 thereunder.

The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, civil penalties, penny stock bars, and officer-and-director bars against each defendant.

In separate orders instituting settled administrative proceedings, the Commission charged Fan and two public companies under his control, AF Ocean Investment Management Company and ChinAmerica Andy Movie Entertainment Media Company, with issuing false press releases and making false SEC filings regarding their purported revenues.

The Commission also charged Fan with manipulating the price of both companies’ stock and fraudulently selling his controlling interest in another public company.

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Fan and the two companies agreed to the entry of cease-and-desist orders.

Fan further agreed to entry of an order barring him from participating in penny stock offerings, barring him from serving as an officer or director of a public company, and ordering him to pay $140,000 in civil penalties.

AF Ocean and ChinAmerica each further agreed to entry of an order revoking their securities registrations.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Jeffrey T. Cook in the Miami Regional Office.

The investigation was supervised by Eric R. Busto. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Amie Riggle Berlin.

U.S. District Court
Middle District of Florida (Tampa)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 8:18-cv-01003-SDM-TGW

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Harrison et al
Assigned to: Judge Steven D. Merryday
Referred to: Magistrate Judge Thomas G. Wilson

Case in other court:  11th Circuit, 19-10509-E
11th Circuit, 19-11950-E

Cause: 15:0077 Securities Fraud

Date Filed: 04/25/2018
Date Terminated: 06/16/2020
Jury Demand: Defendant
Nature of Suit: 850 Securities/Commodities
Jurisdiction: U.S. Government Plaintiff

 

Date Filed # Docket Text
01/11/2021 150 ORDER–NOTICE: COMPLIANCE WITH NEW LOCAL RULE 1.08. Signed by Judge Steven D. Merryday on 1/11/2021. (BK) (Entered: 01/11/2021)

 


 

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SEC Charges Florida Attorney with Investment Fraud

May 1, 2018

The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil injunctive action against a Florida lawyer accused of investor fraud.

The federal agency alleged that attorney Diane J. Harrison and her husband, Michael J. Daniels, manipulated share prices to inflate the public market value of stock they controlled.

Harrison is a business lawyer licensed to practice in Florida and Nevada.

She specializes in business planning, securities regulation, Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance, public offerings and private placements, according to her website.

Her firm, Harrison Law, is based in Parrish, in the Bradenton–Sarasota–Venice metropolitan area on Florida’s southwestern coast.

Harrison has a degree in chemical engineering from West Virginia Institute of Technology, and once held an engineering position with the U.S. Department of Energy, according to her online biography.

Her business holdings include a plumbing company that tests and repairs residential backflow systems.

But the SEC claimed Harrison also had another line of work:

alleged scams that ran for about four years and violated anti-fraud, registration and reporting provisions of federal securities laws.

“From no later than July 2010 through August 2014, Harrison participated in two separate fraudulent schemes to manufacture public companies for sale, fundamentally premised on a deceptive public float of purportedly ‘free-trading’ securities,” according to the complaint the SEC filed April 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

“The creation of that deceptive public float was dependent on false and misleading statement and omissions to the Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Depository Trust Co. and others.”

The alleged fraud involved “microcap” companies — publicly traded companies with market capitalization or value of around $50-$300 million.

The SEC alleged Harrison and her husband launched at least five microcap companies to issue stock based on these firms’ ability to issue unrestricted shares on the over-the-counter market.

But the companies had no real value, according to the complaint.

Instead, the SEC alleges Daniels and Harrison created the false appearance that the companies were viable businesses with independent management and shareholders.

Instead, they used friends and relatives to pose as officers and investors.

One friend, Catherine A. Bradaick-Zolla of Sarasota, was named as a co-defendant in the SEC action.

“Harrison and Daniels’ scheme followed a consistent pattern,” according to the complaint.

They “acquired a small local business, and gifted its privately held securities to approximately 30 friends and family by providing them with all the money to ‘purchase’ the shares.”

Once the “investors” completed the acquisition, Harrison then prepared and filed paperwork with federal agencies to take the company public and offer its shares for sale. “Daniels and Harrison used the identity of a friend — sometimes without his or her knowledge — to be a fellow officer, to create a mirage of not just independent investors, but also independent management,” according to the SEC complaint.

“Each registration statement made false and misleading statements concerning the officers, the company’s business purpose and the ‘selling’ shareholders.” Harrison’s Florida Bar file shows admission in 2010 and no disciplinary history over the last 10 years.

Her Nevada file shows no disciplinary actions, and membership since 2004.

Harrison did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday on the federal charges, and no appearance was immediately entered on her behalf.

Jamindar’s Unacceptable Excuses Are Covered by Florida Bar Attorney Immunity and As Such, Accepted

Nirav Mahendra Jamindar, 17555 Nature Walk Trail, Unit 305, Parker, CO, suspended for 90 days effective 30 days following a May 5 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 2008)

In one matter, Jamindar failed to timely and properly withdraw from an appellate matter, causing delay in the appeal.

In a separate instance, Jamindar represented he was “Of Counsel” for a law firm for a period of time in which he was no longer working for the law firm.

Jamindar inadvertently filed notices of appearance reflecting his “Of Counsel” designation.

In second, third, and fourth matters, Jamindar failed to properly supervise his wife, who solicited legal business for Jamindar without his knowledge.

(Case No: SC21-507)

Chris Lim Should Have Been Disbarred.  Lim’s Part of the Allan Campbell Series of Articles.

Christopher A. Lim, P.O. Box 568163, Orlando, suspended for one year effective 30 days following a May 19 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 2005)

Lim became involved with two separate “private member associations” that were run by nonlawyers.

The first company marketed itself to individuals wanting to fight foreclosure cases without directly hiring an attorney.

Lim and another attorney provided legal services to the customers of the company.

After the company ceased operations, Lim joined another law firm that, in effect, was run by another “private member association” that marketed itself to individuals wanting to defend their foreclosure cases without directly hiring an attorney.

The law firm also was used by another nonlawyer’s company that directly solicited individuals who wanted to cancel their timeshare contracts.

The nonlawyer company owners controlled the operations of the law firms and had considerable input into what actions the attorneys took.

The manner in which the law firm was run caused considerable confusion as to which attorney was representing a particular client.

All fees were paid by the customers directly to the companies which then paid the attorneys a salary.

Lim also was sanctioned by the Fifth District Court of Appeal for failing to respond to two Orders to Show Cause for pursuing a meritless appeal.

(Case No: SC21-1666)

Lucente Decided that a Suspension Could be Blanked. That Didn’t Go Down Well.

Janet Peralta Lucente, 1525 N. Park Dr., Suite 102, Weston, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years effective immediately following an April 28 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1997)

Lucente engaged in the practice of law after being suspended for 91 days by filing pleadings furthering litigation and held herself out as an attorney in said pleadings.

Lucente failed to provide notice of her suspension and a copy of the order to a client and failed to withdraw from the matter prior to the effective date of her suspension.

Lucente also made a misrepresentation in her affidavit to The Florida Bar when she stated she had no clients when the order of suspension was issued.

(Case No: SC22-352)

Two brothers who operated multiple South Florida addiction treatment facilities were sentenced to prison. They were also Florida Lawyers.

Daniel Markovich, 1151 Poinciana Dr., Pembroke Pines, indefinitely suspended effective 30 days following an April 28 court order

(Admitted to practice: 2017).

Markovich was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud;

two counts of health care fraud;

one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks;

and two counts of payment and offer kickbacks in exchange for use of services.

Markovich was sentenced to 97 months and 60 months of incarceration, all terms to run concurrently.

(Case No: SC22-566)

Jonathan Markovich, 250 95th St, Surfside, indefinitely suspended effective 30 days from an April 28 court order (Admitted to practice: 2013).

Markovich was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud;

eight counts of health care fraud;

one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks;

one count of payment and offer of kickbacks in exchange for use of services; one count of soliciting and receiving kickbacks;

one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering;

eight counts of money laundering; and two counts of bank fraud.

Markovich was sentenced to 188 months, 120 months, and 60 months of incarceration, all terms to run concurrently.

(Case No: SC22-570)

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, March 21, 2022

Addiction Treatment Facility Operators Sentenced in $112 Million Addiction Treatment Fraud Scheme

Two brothers who operated multiple South Florida addiction treatment facilities were sentenced to prison Friday for a $112 million addiction treatment fraud scheme that included paying kickbacks to patients through patient recruiters and receiving kickbacks from testing laboratories.

“These substance abuse treatment facility operators, through brazen tactics driven by greed, took advantage of vulnerable patients seeking treatment,”

said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“These sentences demonstrate the department’s unwavering commitment to protecting patients and prosecuting fraudulent substance abuse treatment facilities through our Sober Homes Initiative.”

Jonathan Markovich, 37, and his brother, Daniel Markovich, 33, both of Bal Harbour, were sentenced in the Southern District of Florida to 188 months and 97 months in prison, respectively.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the defendants conspired to unlawfully bill for approximately $112 million of addiction treatment services that were medically unnecessary and/or never provided, which were procured through illegal kickbacks at two addiction treatment facilities, Second Chance Detox LLC, dba Compass Detox (Compass Detox), an inpatient detox and residential facility, and WAR Network LLC (WAR), a related outpatient treatment program.

The defendants obtained patients through patient recruiters who offered illegal kickbacks to patients, including free airline tickets, illegal drugs, and cash payments.

The defendants shuffled a core group of patients between Compass Detox and WAR in a cycle of admissions and re-admissions to fraudulently bill for as much as possible.

Patient recruiters gave patients illegal drugs prior to admission to Compass Detox to ensure admittance for detox, which was the most expensive kind of addiction treatment offered by the defendants’ facilities.

In addition, therapy sessions were billed for but not regularly provided or attended, and excessive, medically unnecessary urinalysis drug tests were ordered, billed for, and paid. Compass Detox patients were given a so-called “Comfort Drink” to sedate them, and to keep them coming back.

Patients were also given large and potentially harmful amounts of controlled substances, in addition to the “Comfort Drink,” to keep them compliant and docile, and to ensure they stayed at the facility.

“To manipulate and exploit patients seeking help in their most vulnerable state is unacceptable,”

said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“These individuals orchestrated a scheme that sought profits over the well-being of patients, and they will be held accountable for their actions. With the help of our law enforcement partners, the FBI continues to investigate, bring down these criminal enterprises, and protect our citizens.”

After a seven-week trial in November 2021, both defendants were convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. Jonathan Markovich was convicted of eight counts of health care fraud and Daniel Markovich was convicted of two counts of health care fraud.

They were also both convicted of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks and two counts of paying and receiving kickbacks.

Jonathan Markovich was separately convicted of conspiring to commit money laundering, two counts of concealment money laundering, and six counts of laundering at least $10,000 in proceeds of unlawful activities.

He was also convicted of two counts of bank fraud related to fraudulently obtaining PPP loans for both Compass Detox and WAR during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FBI’s Miami Field Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and the Broward County Sherriff’s Office investigated the case.

Senior Litigation Counsel Jim Hayes and Trial Attorney Jamie de Boer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case.

The National Rapid Response Strike Force, Miami Strike Force, and Los Angeles Strike Force lead the Department of Justice’s Sober Homes Initiative, which was announced in the 2020 National Health Care Fraud Takedown to prosecute defendants who exploit vulnerable patients seeking treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction.

Topic(s):
Coronavirus
Disaster Fraud
Health Care Fraud
Component(s):
Criminal Division
Criminal – Criminal Fraud Section
Press Release Number:
22-270

PENDING CRIMINAL DIVISION CASES

Sober Homes Takedown

United States v. Jonathan Markovich et al. (21-CR-60020)

All hearings will be held before Judge William P. Dimitrouleas United States Courthouse, 299 East Broward Blvd. #108, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 unless otherwise noted.

Latest Updates:

On March 24, 2022 defendant Jose Santeiro was found guilty by a federal jury. His sentencing hearing has been set for June 17, 2022 at 01:30 PM.

The arraignment hearing for defendant Jeffrey Draesel has been reset for June 19, 2022 at 11:00 AM.

The sentencing hearing for defendant Waserstein has been reset for June 27, 2022 at 01:15 PM.

The sentencing hearing for defendant Bosch has been set for June 30, 2022 at 01:15 PM.

On May 10, 2022 defendant Lieberman was sentenced to 13 months of imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $1,851,538.51 in restitution.

On March 18, 2022 defendant Jonathan Markovich was sentenced to 188 months of imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $2,122,500 in restitution.

On March 18, 2022 defendant Daniel Markovich was sentenced to 97 months of imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $1,850,000 in restitution.

On March 10, 2022 defendant Elan Bakhshi was sentenced 25 months of imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $2,904,187 in restitution.

On April 6, 2022, defendant Christopher Garnto was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $375,227 in restitution.

The sentencing hearing previously scheduled for defendant Kustura has been cancelled.

Please note that due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, courthouses may have different rules regarding in-person attendance. Please check the court’s website or contact us at Victimassistance.fraud@usdoj.gov if you are planning to attend.

Criminal Charges:

On or about September 25, 2020, ten defendants were charged by criminal complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for their alleged participation in conspiracies to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, violate the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act, and money laundering offenses. Defendant Jonathan Markovich was also charged with bank fraud and false statements to a financial institution for seeking Paycheck Protection Program loans.

These defendants are owners, operators, doctors, and patient recruiters for two substance abuse treatment centers in Broward County, Florida:

Second Chance Detox, LLC, doing business as Compass Detox (“COMPASS”), a detox and residential inpatient facility,

and

WAR Network, LLC (“WAR”), a related outpatient program.

Eight of these defendants were indicted on January 19, 2021.

On November 4, 2021, Defendant Jonathan Markovich was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, payment and offer of kickbacks in exchange for use of services, soliciting and receiving kickbacks, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, and bank fraud.

Defendant Daniel Markovich was also convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, and payment and offer of kickbacks in exchange for use of services.

For more information about the Sober Homes Takedown, please see below:

Criminal Complaint

Assistance for those with medical needs who may have been impacted by the Sober Homes Takedown enforcement actions:

DOJ, DEA, HHS-OIG, HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Florida Department of Children and Families are deploying federal and state-level strategies to address patient harm and ensure continuity of care. Additional information regarding available treatment programs and where patients can turn for assistance is as follows:

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Resources in Miami-Dade County
Thriving Mind South Florida Brochure

Victim Impact Statement: If you would like to submit a Victim Impact Statement, you may do so by mailing the Victim Impact Statement to: Victim Witness Unit, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, 10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Bond Building, Room 4416, Washington, DC 20530. You also may submit the Victim Impact Statement via email at VictimAssistance.fraud@usdoj.gov or by fax at: (202) 514-3708.

Victim Impact Statement (PDF)

The information on this website will be updated as new developments arise in the case. If you have any questions, please call the Victim Assistance Line toll-free at (888) 549-3945 or email us at VictimAssistance.fraud@usdoj.gov.

Presumption of Innocence: It is important to keep in mind that an indictment contains allegations only, and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. That presumption requires both the court and our office to take certain steps to ensure that justice is served.

Crime Victims’ Rights Act and Right to Retain Counsel: The Crime Victims’ Rights Act (18 U.S.C. § 3771) applies only to victims of the counts charged in federal court, and thus individuals may not be able to exercise all of these rights if the crime of which the individual is a victim was not charged. Section 377I(c)(2) of this Act requires that we advise you that you have the right to retain counsel. Although the statute specifically sets forth your right to seek advice of an attorney with regard to your rights under the statute, there is no requirement that you retain counsel. The Government may not recommend any specific counsel, nor can the government (or the court) pay for counsel to represent you. Government attorneys represent the United States.

If you elect to obtain counsel to represent your interests, please have your attorney notify this office in writing at: U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, 10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Bond Building, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20530, Attention: Victim Witness Unit; fax: (202) 514-3708; or email: VictimAssistance.fraud@usdoj.gov. If you elect not to retain counsel to represent your interests, you do not need to do anything.

Meadors Abhorrent Criminal Acts

Michael Jay Meadors, 500 E. University Ave., Suite B, Gainesville, permanent disciplinary revocation effective 30 days following an April 28 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 2003)

Meadors is charged by criminal information with one count of child sexual battery

(Count I, Capital Felony),

and 21 counts of promoting 23-1 and possessing a sexual performance by a child

(Counts II-X, First Degree Felonies, and XI-XXII, Second Degree Felonies).

(Case No: SC22-245)

Mitchell’s Not Receivin’ First Amendment Protection for Bashin’ Outlaws in Dirty Black Robes

Raymond B. Mitchell, 3717 Del Prado Blvd. S., Suite 1, Cape Coral, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a March 28 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1994)

Mitchell was found to have engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice and of making disparaging statements which impugned the qualifications and integrity of a judge.

(Case No: SC20-1777)

Newman Needed to Top Up His Retirement, And His Wish Was Granted, Free of Criminal Prosecution

Lawrence Bruce Newman, (75), 1900 Glades Rd., Boca Raton [virtual address, the actual home address for Newman is 17100 Grand Bay Dr, Boca Raton, FL, 33496-2913], disciplinary revocation with leave to apply for readmission effective April 27 following a May 12 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1974)

Newman agreed to a disciplinary revocation concerning the misuse of funds.

(Case No: SC22-402)

Ramer Needs Coached

Alan Howard Ramer, 10602 S.W. 77th Terr., Miami, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a May 20 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1988)

This is a reciprocal discipline action stemming from a six-month suspension order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida that was to be rescinded if Ramer complied with remedial requirements.

To date, he has not complied.

Ramer repeatedly failed to timely comply with discovery requests and/or produce complete responses, failed to attend court-ordered mediation, failed to respond to opposing counsel’s emails, failed to comply with court orders, and failed to comply with the local rules for the Southern District Court of Florida.

(SC20-1027)

Lawyer Rheinstein is Filin’ Frivolously and Makin’ Threats. Move to Texas, That Behavior is Deemed Zealous Advocacy.

Jason Edward Rheinstein, P.O. Box 1369, Severna Park, MD, disbarred effective 30 days following a May 20 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 2008)

Rheinstein was found to have filed numerous pleadings lacking merit in violation of rules of procedure in both federal and state cases.

Rheinstein also filed numerous frivolous pleadings and took positions unsupported by the facts or the law.

Rheinstein violated the rules by attempting to prove an elaborate conspiracy theory in order to force a settlement, as well as issuing unsubstantiated accusations against his legal opponent regarding a fraud scheme that led a court to believe the opponent was under federal investigation.

Rheinstein also engaged in a series of actions,

including threatening to report his opponent’s attorneys to the Attorney Grievance Commission if they refused to drop an appeal or withdraw from the case,

making accusations of ex parte communication with the clerk’s office in an effort to manipulate the trial record,

and

threatening opposing counsels with claims related to their clients’ alleged fraudulent conduct.

This is a reciprocal discipline action based on an order from The Court of Appeals of Maryland dated January 24, 2020.

(Case No: SC20-1614)

Sarbinoff is a Lawyer and a Criminal. Grant, You’re the Perfect Lawyer.

Grant Griffith Sarbinoff, 411 N.E. 53rd St., Miami, indefinitely suspended effective 30 days following an April 28 court order

(Admitted to practice: 2010). (Now showing as ‘RETIRED’, per Fl. Bar Profile).

Sabrinoff was adjudicated guilty of the following felony offenses:

two counts of criminal use of personal identification information;

one count of unlawful use of a two-way communications device;

and

16 counts of offenses against users of computers.

(Case No: SC22-573)

Siegmeister is a Prosecutor Who Requested and Received Bribes for Reduced Sentences Over Many, Many Years. His Criminal Trial is Currently Ongoing. Note: there’s not a Detailed Summary in this Disbarment by the Florida Judiciary, LIF knows Why.

Jeffrey Alan Siegmeister, P.O. Box 329, Live Oak, permanent disciplinary revocation, effective 30 days following an April 28 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1994)

On February 22, 2022, Siegmeister pled guilty to the following:

conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity,

in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 1952(a)(3);

conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion,

in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a);

wire fraud,

in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343;

and filing a false tax return,

in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1).

(Case No: SC22-307)

KC Wright’s Behavin’ Like a Normal Lawyer – Unfortunately, He Got Himself Arrested and is Now a Fugitive

Kenneth Carl Wright, 121 South Orange Ave., Suite 1500, Orlando, disbarred effective immediately following a May 12 court order.

(Admitted to practice: 1988)

Wright was arrested for suspected shoplifting, for trespassing and resisting arrest without violence on March 10, 2020.

In August of 2020, Wright entered a plea to the trespass charge and received a time served jail sentence and a withhold of adjudication.

The resisting without violence charge was dismissed by the state pursuant to Wright’s plea agreement.

Wright failed to advise The Florida Bar of his criminal plea.

In September 2020, Wright was arrested in Denver, Colorado, for burglary.

Wright failed to appear for his court proceedings in relation to that charge.

He absconded and is subject to a warrant for arrest as a fugitive from justice.

Wright did not participate in the Bar’s disciplinary proceedings against him.

(Case No: SC21-1215)

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 reapply 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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