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Eleventh Circuit

The Martin Zilber Doctrine: A Part-Time Judge on Full-Time Pay Resigns to Save His Pension After Complaint

Judge Morley’s findings stressed that judicial assistants are “not personal assistants funded by the taxpayers to take on chores for their judges”.

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Miami Judge Faces Discipline as Foreclosure Attorney Seeks to Get Him Disbarred

The JQC’s investigative panel stressed that judicial assistants are “not personal assistants funded by the taxpayers to take on chores for their judges,” but rather, “important court resources whose work is vital to the efficient and orderly operation of the judicial system.”

APR 9, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUN 20, 2021

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Martin Zilber is facing discipline after admitting and apologizing for mistreating his staff and taking unauthorized absences.

It’s a discipline case that draws attention to the imbalance of power that exists between a judge and their assistants, as Zilber was accused of being intemperate toward his bailiff and judicial assistant, requiring them to complete personal tasks for him including online shopping, scrapbooking and registering his car, refusing to approve his judicial assistant’s overtime, regularly leaving the courthouse early and not reporting absences.

The investigative panel of Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission found Zilber “should have been cognizant of that disparity in power and authority, and the untenable position he was placing his employees in,” according to Chair Michelle Morley’s findings and recommendation of discipline, released Friday.

Morley’s findings stressed that judicial assistants are “not personal assistants funded by the taxpayers to take on chores for their judges,” but rather, “important court resources whose work is vital to the efficient and orderly operation of the judicial system.”

That filing followed a formal complaint from the JQC, accusing Zilber of violating nine canons of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct.

Morley recommended Zilber receive a public reprimand, a 60-day suspension without pay, a $30,000 fine to cover his unauthorized absences and suggested he attend the next offering of Phase I of the Florida Judicial College. She also recommended the judge write apology letters to his bailiff and current and former judicial assistants.

Morley’s findings pointed to case law that says full cooperation, remorse and candor are mitigating factors in a judicial discipline case.

“Although the scope of Judge Zilber’s misconduct is wide, the commission’s recommendation, while severe, is tempered somewhat by Judge Zilber’s sincere reflection, contrition and cooperation,” Morley’s findings said.

Zilber was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1988 and has no disciplinary history.

He signed a stipulation Thursday taking responsibility for his conduct, admitting it was inappropriate and damaged the public’s perception of the judiciary.

David Rothman of Rothman & Associates in Miami represents Zilber and declined to comment, noting that the case is pending before the Florida Supreme Court.

Inconvenient pregnancy?

Among the allegations against Zilber: that he told his then-judicial assistant Dixie Dent that her pregnancy was inconvenient.

It was a deeply upsetting comment, according to Dent, who resigned as Zilber’s judicial assistant in September. Dent said she had suffered multiple miscarriages by that point and had also wanted to prepare Zilber for that possibility.

“He said to me, ‘This is the worst time possible for you to be pregnant. This is not good. It’s not going to work out and this ruins all of my plans,’ ” Dent said. “ I should have gone to HR that very moment, but instead I came home and cried my eyes out that night.”

The JQC also alleged that, when the bailiff was unavailable, Zilber required Dent to wheel his chair into the courtroom and lift it onto the bench while she was pregnant.

Dent said she was regularly asked to work through lunch breaks and developed gestational diabetes after skipping meals. Dent ultimately gave birth to a healthy baby.

The last straw, Dent said, came when Zilber yelled at her after a Zoom hearing about an uncompleted task, and her 10-year-old daughter became scared.

“She said, ‘Mommy, do you want me to talk to daddy and stay all next week to help you with the baby, so Angry Marty doesn’t yell at you?’ ” Dent said.

‘The grief of it all’

Dent said she’d been excited to take the job, having come from the private sector.

“As a paralegal, I felt like I had an opportunity to make a change, to do something different and really get these cases in front of a judge by managing his calendar correctly and really paying attention and doing what I was supposed to do,” Dent said.

Dent said she felt conflicted about coming forward but ultimately felt compelled to set the right example for her daughters.

“It’s so much easier to stay quiet and take the high road, because I don’t have to go through the grief of it all,” Dent said. “I know the value of my skill set and what I bring to the table. But it sucks that I was forced to resign a position that I enjoyed, that I was truly making a difference in, that even though I wasn’t being compensated for it didn’t matter. It’s a public service and that is a personal fulfillment all on its own. And I had to give up insurance for my whole family during a pandemic because it was either: resign or eventually have a mental breakdown.”

Art Basel tickets

The JQC’s complaint alleged Zilber once asked his bailiff to collect Art Basel tickets for him from Miami Beach, and often required the bailiff or Dent to drive him to bar events and work appointments.

Zilber also allegedly instructed Dent to include inaccurate and misleading information in his work logs and failed to notify court administrators that he was absent for 51 workdays between January 2019 and March 2020 — including taking a weeklong vacation to Malibu without notifying the court.

Those absences were in addition to 16 court holidays and 25 days of properly noticed leave, according to the JQC, which noted Miami-Dade judges can only take 30 working days of annual leave.

Miami attorney Bruce Jacobs of Jacobs Legal is representing Dent pro bono and helped her prepare the JQC complaint. Dent now works for him. Jacobs said he hired her at his firm after she struggled to find employment.

Jacobs said Dent rejects the recommended discipline and called for a harsher sanction.

“This is a slap on the wrist and it just gives the judge more time off. He was abusive to his pregnant JA and thoroughly misused and abused his power as a judge to blacklist her from getting employment for almost a year. Under The Florida Bar standards for discipline of a lawyer sitting in a government position as a judge, he intentionally caused her substantial injury,” Jacobs said. “This judge should be removed from the bench and he should be disbarred.”

Jacobs also disclosed that Dent came to him because she felt Zilber had unfairly targeted his foreclosure defense clients.

Absences didn’t affect docket

Morley’s findings noted that the evidence did not suggest Zilber was “unduly delinquent in making or issuing rulings or managing his docket,” nor did the commission find any abnormal delays to cases, but said that tardiness and absences do damage the public’s perception of the judiciary.

“This damage can be even more noticeable in larger jurisdictions where citizens sometimes have to wait weeks or even months for court hearing times, and yet see other judges who could be helping, leaving early or coming in late,” Morley wrote.

Morley’s findings noted that judges and staff can develop friendships, but “it is imperative to not lose sight of the fact that there is, first and foremost, an employer-employee relationship.”

“The commission believes that because of the disparity in power between a judge and their employee, requests for favors by the judge-employer carry such significant weight that they cease to be requests, and become, instead, directives or commands,” Morley’s findings said.

The Florida Supreme Court has the final say on judicial discipline cases and is yet to rule.

Florida judge resigns after allegedly missing work and making court staff run personal errands

MAY 18, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: JUN 20, 2021

Eleventh Circuit of Florida Judge Martin Zilber resigned on Friday.

A Florida judge facing discipline for allegedly missing work and having court staff drive him to events, do his online shopping and perform other personal errands has resigned from the bench, according to the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission.

The Commission opened an inquiry into Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Martin Zilber after getting a complaint last September about his behavior, according to the findings and recommendation of discipline posted on the Florida Supreme Court website.

The commission found “clear and convincing evidence” that Zilber engaged in the “intemperate treatment or misuse of court staff” and had excessive absences.

Zilber did not contest the inquiry’s findings and “took immediate responsibility for his conduct,” according to an April 8 stipulation document.

His attorney had no comment on Tuesday because the case is still pending.

Zilber took ‘immediate responsibility’

Zilber accepted the discipline, including a public reprimand, a 60-day suspension without pay and a $30,000 fine, as well as additional training and letters of apology to his current and former judicial assistant and bailiff.

But, the Florida Supreme Court rejected the proposed sanctions and called for a full hearing, so it could decide on the appropriate punishment.

His former judicial assistant, Dixidela Dent, filed a motion on April 16, outlining her allegations of mistreatment by Zilber, and called for the case to be referred to the Florida Bar for a grievance hearing.

The commission said Zilber asked court staff to perform a number of tasks for him that were outside of their job descriptions — including personal online shopping, registering his car at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and traveling to Miami Beach during work hours to pick up tickets for an art event.

It said that Zilber asked his judicial assistant to assemble a scrapbook of his personal and professional achievements and asked her and his bailiff to drive him to appointments.

The inquiry also found that Zilber sometimes required his judicial assistant, who was pregnant, to wheel his chair up several floors and then lift it onto the dais in his courtroom before hearings. He made other arrangements when her concerns were brought to his attention.

Court staff aren’t personal assistants

Zilber said he only asked his staff to do these things and did not require it, but recognized that the requests could be seen as orders because of his authority over his staff, the commission said.

It wrote that judicial assistants and other court staff are “vital to the efficient and orderly operation of the judicial system.”

“They are not personal assistants funded by the taxpayers to take on chores for their judges. Adding personal errands and favors to the workloads of these already burdened employees is not only improper, it can create further delays or interruptions in the efficient administration of the courts,” the findings said.

The commission also found that Zilber was absent from the courthouse on 51 workdays between January 21, 2019, and March 13, 2020, without notifying the court administration. This is on top of 16 court holidays and 25 days of approved leave.

Zilber testified that he did attend to work-related matters and said he was working remotely on some of those days in 2019, according to the commission.

It said Zilber also took a weeklong vacation in Malibu, California, in August without making a leave request because he was working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The commission said that he had his judicial assistant reschedule hearings and dockets for that week to another time.

The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission moved to dismiss the charges against Zilber following his resignation, which it said took effect on Friday.

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Eleventh Circuit

Attorney Lee Segal v. That German Bank and MD Fl. Still Rages On, In This Case.

The judiciary have been moving the motion for sanctions and attorney fees against Segal around the courts and it’s now landed into this case. Once LIF publishes, no doubt it will move again.

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BCP Management, LLC v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company

(8:21-cv-00276-CPT)

District Court, M.D. Florida

NOV 9, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: DEC 18, 2021

ORDER

Under 28 U.S.C. § 455, a judge must disqualify herself in any proceeding in which her impartiality might reasonably be questioned or if the judge has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 455(a) & (b)(1).

When proper grounds exist, a judge has an affirmative and self-enforcing obligation to recuse herself sua sponte.

United States v. Kelly, 888 F.2d 732, 744 (11th Cir. 1989).

Today, I presided over a settlement conference for this case. (Doc. 53).

During the settlement conference, at which the parties reached an impasse, I became privy to certain confidential information.

Consequently, recusal is warranted.

The Clerk is directed to reassign this case to another magistrate judge by random draw and provide notice to the parties of the new magistrate judge.

ORDERED in Tampa, Florida on November 9, 2021.

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U.S. District Court
Middle District of Florida (Tampa)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 8:21-cv-00276-CPT

BCP Management, LLC v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company
Assigned to: Magistrate Judge Christopher P. Tuite
Demand: $860,000

Case in other court:  Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court, 20-CA-47023

Cause: 28:1441 Notice of Removal- Racketeering (RICO)

Date Filed: 02/02/2021
Date Terminated: 06/08/2021
Jury Demand: Plaintiff
Nature of Suit: 470 Racketeer/Corrupt Organization
Jurisdiction: Diversity
Plaintiff
BCP Management, LLC
as Trustee for 11717 81st Place Land Trust
represented by Lee Segal
Segal & Schuh Law Group, PL
18167 US Hwy 19 N Ste 100
Clearwater, FL 33764
727-824-5775
Fax: 888-672-7347
Email: lee@segalschuh.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
V.
Defendant
Deutsche Bank National Trust Company
as Trustee, on behalf of the Registered Holders of GSAMP Trust 2005-HE3, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2005-HE3
represented by Benjamin Bruce Brown
Quarles & Brady, LLP
Suite 300
1395 Panther Ln
Naples, FL 34109-7874
239/659-5026
Fax: 239/213-5426
Email: benjamin.brown@quarles.com
LEAD ATTORNEY
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICEDJoseph T. Kohn
Quarles & Brady, LLP
Suite 300
1395 Panther Ln
Naples, FL 34109-7874
239/262-5959
Fax: 239/213-5599
Email: joseph.kohn@quarles.com
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

 

Date Filed # Docket Text
11/16/2021 56 NOTICE by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company of Impasse at Settlement Conference (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 11/16/2021)
11/10/2021 55 Case Reassigned to Magistrate Judge Christopher P. Tuite. New case number: 8:21-cv-276-CPT. Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone no longer assigned to the case. (JNB) (Entered: 11/10/2021)
11/09/2021 54 ORDER of recusal. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 11/9/2021. (SFC) (Entered: 11/09/2021)
11/09/2021 53 Minute Entry. Virtual Proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone: SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE held on 11/9/2021. Court declares an impasse. (Via Zoom) (CDM) (Entered: 11/09/2021)
11/08/2021 52 ENDORSED ORDER taking judicial notice of 32 Exhibits for Defendant’s Motion for Sanctions. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 11/8/2021. (SFC) (Entered: 11/08/2021)
11/01/2021 51 ORDER scheduling settlement conference. Settlement Conference set for 11/9/2021 at 10:00 AM in Zoom Video Conference before Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone. See order for details. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 11/1/2021. (SFC) (Entered: 11/01/2021)
10/29/2021 50 NOTICE by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company re 47 Order directing compliance Amended Joint Notice of Availability for Status Conference (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 10/29/2021)
10/29/2021 49 NOTICE by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company re 47 Order directing compliance JOINT NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY FOR SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 10/29/2021)
10/28/2021 48 Minute Entry. Virtual Proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone: STATUS CONFERENCE held on 10/26/2021. (Via Zoom) (CDM) (Entered: 10/28/2021)
10/26/2021 47 ORDER directing parties to confer re: scheduling a settlement conference for 31 Motion for Sanctions and Attorneys Fees. See order for details. Response due 10/29/2021 at noon. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 10/26/2021. (SFC) (Entered: 10/26/2021)
10/07/2021 46 ORDER setting status conference for 10/26/2021 at 02:00 PM in Zoom Video Conference before Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 10/7/2021. (SFC) (Entered: 10/07/2021)
10/05/2021 45 NOTICE by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company re 44 Order setting status conference JOINT NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY FOR STATUS CONFERENCE (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 10/05/2021)
10/04/2021 44 ORDER directing parties to confer re: scheduling a status conference for 31 Motion for Sanctions and Attorneys Fees. See order for details. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 10/4/2021. (SFC) (Entered: 10/04/2021)
07/22/2021 43 RESPONSE in Opposition re 31 MOTION for Sanctions and Attorney’s Fees Against Lee Segal Personally filed by BCP Management, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit Affidavit of Zachary Heathcote)(Segal, Lee) (Entered: 07/22/2021)
07/20/2021 42 ORDER denying 41 Motion to Reconsider Order granting in part Motion to File Excess Pages. The plaintiff’s response to the defendant’s 31 Motion for Attorney’s Fees is due by July 23, 2021 and cannot exceed twenty-five pages. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 7/20/2021. (MLM) (Entered: 07/20/2021)
07/16/2021 41 First MOTION for Reconsideration re 38 Order on Motion to Stay Order on Motion to File Excess Pages by BCP Management, LLC. (Segal, Lee) Modified on 7/19/2021 to edit text (CRH). (Entered: 07/16/2021)
06/28/2021 40 NOTICE of Filing Order by BCP Management, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Order on Motion to Consolidate Cases)(Segal, Lee) Modified on 6/28/2021 to edit text (CRH). (Entered: 06/28/2021)
06/28/2021 39 NOTICE of supplemental authority by BCP Management, LLC. (Segal, Lee) (Entered: 06/28/2021)
06/25/2021 38 ORDER denying 36 Motion to Stay Response Deadline; granting in part 37 Motion to File Excess Pages. The plaintiff’s response to the defendant’s 31 Motion for Sanctions is due by July 12, 2021 and cannot exceed twenty-five pages. See order for further details. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 6/25/2021. (MLM) (Entered: 06/25/2021)
06/21/2021 37 First MOTION for Leave to File Other Document :Response to Defendant’s Motion for Attorney Fees and/or Sanctions to Exceed 20 Pages by BCP Management, LLC. (Segal, Lee) Modified on 6/22/2021 to change event type (CRH). (Entered: 06/21/2021)
06/14/2021 36 Amended MOTION to Stay re 35 Order directing response to motion Order pdf, 31 MOTION for Sanctions and Attorney’s Fees34 Notice (Other) Request to Abate Deadlines to Respond Pending Ruling on Motion to Consolidate by BCP Management, LLC. (Segal, Lee) Modified on 6/15/2021 to edit text (CRH). (Entered: 06/14/2021)
06/08/2021 35 ORDER dismissing the case for failure to prosecute; directing the Clerk to close the case; and directing the plaintiff to respond to 31 Motion for Sanctions and Attorney’s Fees by June 14, 2021. If no response is received, the defendant’s motion will be treated as unopposed. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 6/8/2021. (MLM) (Entered: 06/08/2021)
06/04/2021 34 NOTICE by BCP Management, LLC of Filing (Attachments: # 1 Motion to Consolidate Cases)(Segal, Lee) (Entered: 06/04/2021)
05/24/2021 33 ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE as to BCP Management, LLC. See order for details. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 5/24/2021. (MLM) (Entered: 05/24/2021)
05/24/2021 32 NOTICE to the Courts to take judicial notice regarding 31 MOTION for Sanctions and Attorney’s Fees Def’s Request for Judicial Notice and Notice of Intent to Use Summaries by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2)(Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 05/24/2021)
05/24/2021 31 MOTION for Sanctions and Attorney’s Fees by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2, # 3 Exhibit 3)(Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 05/24/2021)
04/21/2021 30 ORDER denying 24 Motion to Stay Adjudication of Motion to Quash and Conduct Discovery; granting 6 Motion to Quash Service; and Vacating Default Judgment entered in state court. See order for further details and deadlines. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 4/21/2021. (MLM) (Entered: 04/21/2021)
04/15/2021 29 CERTIFICATE of interested persons and corporate disclosure statement by BCP Management, LLC. (Segal, Lee) (Entered: 04/15/2021)
04/15/2021 28 NOTICE of a related action per Local Rule 1.07(c) by BCP Management, LLC. Related case(s): No (Segal, Lee) (Entered: 04/15/2021)
04/12/2021 27 RESPONSE in Opposition re 24 MOTION to Stay re 21 Response in Opposition to Motion Adjudication of Motion to Quash, Motion to Allow Subpoena Duces Tecum to CT, Compel Deposition filed by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 04/12/2021)
04/06/2021 26 NOTICE by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company re 18 Notice (Other) of Filing Order Denying Consolidation for Purposes of Appeal (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 04/06/2021)
04/06/2021 25 NOTICE of supplemental authority re 6 MOTION to Quash Service of Process MOTION to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 04/06/2021)
03/29/2021 24 MOTION to Stay re 21 Response in Opposition to Motion Adjudication of Motion to Quash, Motion to Allow Subpoena Duces Tecum to CT, Compel Deposition by BCP Management, LLC. (Segal, Lee) (Entered: 03/29/2021)
03/28/2021 23 NOTICE by BCP Management, LLC re 21 Response in Opposition to Motion of Reyes Affidavit Admitting Office (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Segal, Lee) (Entered: 03/28/2021)
03/28/2021 22 NOTICE by BCP Management, LLC re 21 Response in Opposition to Motion of Affidavit of Lior Segal (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Segal, Lee) (Entered: 03/28/2021)
03/26/2021 21 RESPONSE in Opposition re 6 MOTION to Quash Service of Process MOTION to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment filed by BCP Management, LLC. (Segal, Lee) (Entered: 03/26/2021)
03/17/2021 20 ENDORSED ORDER granting 19 Motion for Extension of Time to File a Response to the defendant’s 6 Motion to Quash Service of Process and Motion to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment. The plaintiff’s response is due by March 26, 2021. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 3/17/2021. (MLM) (Entered: 03/17/2021)
03/17/2021 19 First MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 6 MOTION to Quash Service of Process MOTION to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment, 17 Order directing response to motion to Defendant’s Motion to Quash Service & Incorporated Memorandum of Law by BCP Management, LLC. (Segal, Lee) (Entered: 03/17/2021)
03/17/2021 18 NOTICE by BCP Management, LLC of Filing (Attachments: # 1 Motion to Consolidate Cases)(Segal, Lee) (Entered: 03/17/2021)
03/11/2021 17 ENDORSED ORDER directing the plaintiff to respond to the defendant’s 6 Motion to Quash Service of Process and Motion to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment. The plaintiff’s response is due by March 19, 2021. If no response is received, the defendant’s motion will be treated as unopposed. Signed by Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone on 3/11/2021. (MLM) (Entered: 03/11/2021)
03/09/2021 16 ORDER approving Consent to Jurisdiction by US Magistrate Judge. Case reassigned to Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone. Signed by Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell on 3/9/2021. (BGS) (Entered: 03/09/2021)
03/09/2021 15 NOTICE of supplemental authority re 6 MOTION to Quash Service of Process MOTION to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment (Second Notice) by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 03/09/2021)
03/09/2021 14 CONSENT to trial by U.S. Magistrate Judge by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 03/09/2021)
03/09/2021 13 CASE MANAGEMENT REPORT. (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 03/09/2021)
03/03/2021 12 NOTICE of a related action per Local Rule 1.07(c) by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. Related case(s): Yes (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 03/03/2021)
03/01/2021 11 NOTICE informing the parties that they may consent to the jurisdiction of a United States magistrate judge by filing Form AO 85 Notice, Consent, and Reference of a Civil Action to a Magistrate Judge using the event Consent to Jurisdiction of US Magistrate Judge. (Signed by Deputy Clerk). (BGS) (Entered: 03/01/2021)
03/01/2021 10 NOTICE to Counsel of Local Rule 1.07(c), Local Rule 3.02(a)(2), and Local Rule 3.03.

-Local Rule 1.07(c) requires lead counsel to promptly file a Notice of a Related Action that identifies and describes any related action pending in the Middle District.

-Local Rule 3.02(a)(2) requires the parties in every civil proceeding, except those described in subsection (d), to file a case management report (CMR) using the uniform form at www.flmd.uscourts.gov. The CMR must be filed (1) within forty days after any defendant appears in an action originating in this court, (2) within forty days after the docketing of an action removed or transferred to this court, or (3) within seventy days after service on the United States attorney in an action against the United States, its agencies or employees. Judges may have a special CMR form for certain types of cases. These forms can be found at www.flmd.uscourts.gov under the Forms tab for each judge.

-Local Rule 3.03 requires each party to file a disclosure statement with the first appearance that identifies (1) each person that has or might have an interest in the outcome, (2) each entity with publicly traded shares or debt potentially affected by the outcome, (3) each additional entity likely to actively participate, and (4) each person arguably eligible for restitution. The disclosure statement must include this certification – I certify that, except as disclosed, I am unaware of an actual or potential conflict of interest affecting the district judge or the magistrate judge in this action, and I will immediately notify the judge in writing within fourteen days after I know of a conflict. (Signed by Deputy Clerk). (BGS) (Entered: 03/01/2021)

02/26/2021 9 NOTICE of filing of affidavit in opposition to re 7 Notice of filing supplemental authority, 6 MOTION to Quash Service of Process MOTION to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment by BCP Management, LLC (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit of Michael Roth)(Segal, Lee) Modified text on 3/1/2021 (MCB). (Entered: 02/26/2021)
02/26/2021 8 NOTICE of filing of affidavit in opposition to re 7 Notice of filing supplemental authority, 6 MOTION to Quash Service of Process MOTION to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment by BCP Management, LLC (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit of Michael Levey)(Segal, Lee) Modified text on 3/1/2021 (MCB). (Entered: 02/26/2021)
02/23/2021 7 NOTICE of supplemental authority re 6 MOTION to Quash Service of Process MOTION to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 02/23/2021)
02/22/2021 6 MOTION to Quash Service of Process , MOTION to Vacate Clerk’s Default and Default Judgment by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2, # 3 Exhibit 3, # 4 Exhibit 4, # 5 Exhibit 5, # 6 Exhibit 6, # 7 Exhibit 7, # 8 Exhibit 8, # 9 Exhibit 9, # 10 Exhibit 10, # 11 Exhibit 11, # 12 Exhibit 12, # 13 Exhibit 13, # 14 Exhibit 14, # 15 Exhibit 15, # 16 Exhibit 16, # 17 Exhibit 17, # 18 Exhibit 18)(Kohn, Joseph) Motions referred to Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone. (Entered: 02/22/2021)
02/08/2021 5 CORPORATE Disclosure Statement by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company identifying Corporate Parent Deutsche Bank Holdings, Inc., Corporate Parent Deutsche Bank Trust Corporation, Corporate Parent DB USA Corporation for Deutsche Bank National Trust Company.. (Kohn, Joseph) (Entered: 02/08/2021)
02/04/2021 4 ORDER transferring case to Tampa Division. Signed by Judge Anne C. Conway on 2/4/2021. (copies mailed/emailed)(AKC) (Entered: 02/04/2021)
02/03/2021 3 INITIAL CASE ORDER – Notice of Local Rule 3.02(a)(2), which requires the parties in every civil proceeding, except those described in subsection (d), to file a case management report (CMR) using the uniform form at www.flmd.uscourts.gov. The CMR must be filed (1) within forty days after any defendant appears in an action originating in this court, (2) within forty days after the docketing of an action removed or transferred to this court, or (3) within seventy days after service on the United States attorney in an action against the United States, its agencies or employees. Counsel have 14 days from the date of this order to file their disclosure statement (if not already filed) and to notify the court of a related action (not required if there are no related actions). Signed by Judge Anne C. Conway on 2/3/2021. (copies mailed/emailed)(AKC) (Entered: 02/03/2021)
02/02/2021 2 NEW CASE ASSIGNED to Judge Anne C. Conway and Magistrate Judge Embry J. Kidd. New case number: 6:21-cv-0223-ACC-EJK. (SJB) (Entered: 02/02/2021)
02/02/2021 1 COMPLAINT and NOTICE OF REMOVAL from 18th Judicial Circuit Brevard County Florida, case number 20-CA-47023 filed in State Court on 10/19/2020. (Filing Fee $402, Receipt # 113A-17839186) filed by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 State Court COMPLAINT, # 7 State Court Other Documents, # 8 State Court Other Documents, # 9 State Court Docket Sheet, # 10 Civil Cover Sheet)(Kohn, Joseph) Modified on 2/2/2021 to correct docket text(SJB). Modified on 2/3/2021 (MEJ). (Entered: 02/02/2021)
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Eleventh Circuit

PPP Fraud Sentencing: In Florida an NFL Player Receives 3 Years. In Texas, a Regular Joe, 9 Years.

Former NFL player Josh Bellamy $1.2m PPP Loan Fraud versus $1.6m by Texas citizen Lee Price III, receives 3x the sentence, for the same crime and practically the same financial sum.

Published

on

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to confirm federal judges are dismissing sentencing guidelines and ordering low sentences depending on who is in front of them.

Ex-NFL player Bellamy gets 3 years for COVID relief fraud

DEC 13, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: DEC 14, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Former NFL player Josh Bellamy has been sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining over $1.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

Bellamy, 32, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was sentenced Friday in Tampa federal court, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Besides serving prison time, Bellamy must also pay restitution.

Bellamy most recently played for the New York Jets, who released him from the reserve/physically unable to play list in September 2020, just days before his arrest.

The wide receiver had been placed on the list in May of that year, ending his season before it began. He signed a two-year deal worth $5 million with New York in 2019 and played in seven games before injuring a shoulder and being placed on the season-ending injured reserve list.

According to court records, Bellamy obtained a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $1.2 million for his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, using falsified documents and false information.

Bellamy admitted to using the loan proceeds on personal items, such as jewelry and a stay at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Bellamy also sought loans on behalf of his family members and close associates.

Texas man who bought Lamborghini with $1.6 million PPP loan sentenced to 9 years in prison

NOV 30, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: DEC 14, 2021

HOUSTON, Texas — A Houston businessman was sentenced to nine years in prison for a scheme in which he obtained and laundered more than $1.6 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, 30-year-old Lee Price III, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges, submitted fraudulent PPP applications to banks and other lenders on behalf of three entities: 713 Construction LLC, Price Enterprises Holdings LLC, and Price Logistic Services LLC.

Through the applications, Price sought over $2.6 million and obtained $1.6 million.

The applications allegedly stated each entity had numerous employees and significant payroll expenses. In addition, Price put down the name of a person who died shortly before the application was submitted.

After receiving the money, Price used the money on a Lamborghini Urus, a Ford F-350 truck, a Rolex watch, and to pay off a loan on a residential property. He also spent thousands at strip clubs and other Houston nightclubs.

Price was arrested and charged with making false statements to a financial institution, wire fraud, bank fraud and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions. He pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud and money laundering charges.

The CARES Act was enacted in March to provide emergency financial assistance for Americans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress authorized more than $300 billion in additional PPP funding.

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Appellate Circuit

Judge Jill Pryor on a Panel about Judicial Recusals? That’s a Contradiction, Right There.

Judge Cooke has a conflict of interest based on her financial statements, which revealed interests in companies doing business with one of the defendants.

Published

on

In the
United States Court of Appeals
For the Eleventh Circuit

No. 20-13674
Non-Argument Calendar

JAMES BUCKMAN, MAURICE SYMONETTE,

versus
LANCASTER MORTGAGE CO.,

Plaintiffs-Appellants,

DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO.,
as Trustee under the pooling and servicing agreement series rast 2006-A8,

SECURITY AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION,

U.S. TREASURY,

Defendants-Appellees,

ONE WEST BANK, et al.,

Defendants.

OCT 7, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: OCT 7, 2021

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
D.C. Docket No. 1:19-cv-24184-MGC

Before JILL PRYOR, BRANCH, and LUCK, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM:

James Buckman and Maurice Symonette (“Buckman and Symonette”) appeal from the district court’s dismissal with prejudice of their second amended complaint as an impermissible shotgun pleading.

They argue that the district court erred and demonstrated bias by dismissing their case because they had filed a motion for an additional three-day extension of time and the district court provided a window for responses to the motion by the defendants, but then dismissed the case before the responses were due.1

After review, we affirm.

1 Over four months after filing their notice of appeal from the dismissal of their complaint, Buckman and Symonette filed two motions for recusal of the district court judge, arguing that she had a conflict of interest based on her financial statements, which revealed interests in companies doing business with one of the defendants. (LIF: THAT DEFENDANT WOULD BE DEUTSCHE BANK)

The district court denied the motions.

Buckman and Symonette did not file an amended or new notice of appeal following entry of that order.

Therefore, we lack jurisdiction to review the district court’s denial of the motion for recusal.

See McDougald v. Jenson, 786 F.2d 1465, 1474 (11th Cir. 1986) (holding that, although we liberally construe notices of appeal under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 3 to include orders not expressly designated, that allowance does not extend to an order that was not entered when the notice of appeal was filed);

see also LaChance v. Duffy’s Draft House, Inc., 146 F.3d 832, 837–38 (11th Cir. 1998) (holding that we lacked jurisdiction over a post-judgment order awarding attorney’s fees where the motion for attorney’s fees was not filed until after the notice of appeal and the plaintiff failed to file an amended notice of appeal from the order awarding fees).

I. Background

In October 2019, Buckman and Symonette filed a pro se 45-page complaint against eight defendants including numerous banks, a mortgage company, the Security and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Treasury, and other entities, raising numerous claims including:

(1) quiet title;
(2) slander of title;
(3) unjust enrichment;
(4) violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act;
(5) fraud and concealment;
(6) violation of timely assignment and lack of consideration;
and
(7) various violations of several Florida statutes.

Thereafter, in December 2019, Buckman and Symonette filed a 51-page amended complaint asserting a total of 11 causes of action.

On July 24, 2020, the district court, sua sponte, struck the amended complaint as an impermissible shotgun pleading.

The district court set forth the pleading rules in its order, and provided that the plaintiffs had until July 31, 2020 to file a second amended complaint.

The district court emphasized that, in the second amended complaint, Plaintiffs are required to make a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . .”

Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).

Plaintiffs must also state each theory of liability separately “in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.”

Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b).

The newly amended complaint should clearly delineate which factual allegations and cited laws are relevant to the asserted cause of action.

This includes specifying which Defendant is liable under each cause of action and which Defendant is implicated in each factual allegation.

Failure to comply with this Order may result in the dismissal of this case with prejudice or other appropriate sanctions.

On July 31, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a motion for an extension of time to file their second amended complaint. The district court granted the motion and ordered that the second amended com- plaint be filed on or before August 6, 2020.

On August 6, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a motion seeking three more days to file their second amended complaint. On the same date, after filing their extension motion, they filed their second amended complaint.

The 92-page second amended complaint added 4 new causes of action and suffered from many of the same issues as the first amended complaint.

On August 17, 2020, the district court dismissed with prejudice the second amended complaint explaining that the second amended complaint “does not cure the defects that required striking of the initial Complaint.”

This appeal followed.2

2 Following the dismissal of their complaint, Buckman and Symonette filed a motion for reconsideration in the district court, which was denied. However, they do not raise any arguments related to the denial of their motion for re- consideration in their brief. Accordingly, the district court’s resolution of the motion for reconsideration is not before us.

II. Discussion

Buckman and Symonette argue that the district court erred and demonstrated bias when it dismissed their case with prejudice while their motion for extension of time was pending.

Specifically, they argue that the district court docketed their motion for a three- day extension of time to file the second amended complaint and set “responses due by 8/20/2020,” but then dismissed the case before that date.

They also raise arguments related to the merits of their underlying claims.

The district court did not err in dismissing the case. On the day the second amended complaint was due, Buckman and Symonette filed the request for a three-day extension of time, but they then filed a second amended complaint the same day.

The filing of the second amended complaint on the day it was due mooted the motion for an extension of time and the related re- sponse period.

Once the second amended complaint was filed, there was nothing left for the district court to do except review the complaint to determine whether the plaintiffs corrected the previously identified pleading issues.

To the extent that Buckman and Symonette’s brief could be liberally construed as challenging the district court’s dismissal of the second-amended complaint as an impermissible shotgun pleading, we review the district court’s decision for abuse of discretion.

Barmapov v. Amuial, 986 F.3d 1321, 1324 (11th Cir. 2021); see also Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998)

(“Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed.”).

“A shotgun pleading is a complaint that violates either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) or Rule 10(b), or both.”

Barmapov, 986 F.3d at 1324.

Rule 8 requires that the complaint set forth “a short and plain statement of the claim” demonstrating an entitlement to relief, and Rule 10 requires that a plaintiff “state [his] claims in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.”

Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) and 10(b).

Rule 10 further provides that each claim be stated in separate counts “[i]f doing so would promote clarity.” Id. R. 10(b).

We have repeatedly condemned the use of shotgun pleadings.

See Barmapov, 986 F.3d at 1324; Magluta v. Samples, 256 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2001).

When a plaintiff files a shotgun pleading, a district court must give him one chance to replead before dismissing his case with prejudice on shotgun pleading grounds.
Vibe Micro, Inc. v. Shabanets, 878 F.3d 1291, 1295–96 (11th Cir. 2018).

The district court should explain how the pleading violated the shotgun rule so that the plaintiff can remedy his next pleading.

Id.

Where, as here, the plaintiff is provided fair notice of the specific defects in his complaint and a meaningful chance to fix it but fails to correct the defects, the district court does not abuse its discretion by dismissing with prejudice on shotgun pleading grounds.

Jackson v. Bank of Am., N.A., 898 F.3d 1348, 1358–59 (11th Cir. 2018).

Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the second amended complaint with prejudice because Buckman and Symonette failed to correct the pleading defects.

Id.

Consequently, we affirm.

AFFIRMED.

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