Florida lawyers who stole, scammed or disappeared get their punishment

Among the Florida attorneys disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court in February and March after defrauding people, stealing from or ignoring clients or just violating Florida Bar rules, nine lawyers chose disciplinary revocation.

Disciplinary revocation works like being disbarred. An attorney can’t practice law in Florida for at least five years. If done with permission to seek readmission, the attorney can try to rejoin the Bar after the stated time period. If done without permission, it’s exactly the same as disbarment.

Disciplinary revocation settles the inquiries facing the attorney, as far as the Bar is concerned, so attorneys might choose disciplinary revocation instead of spending time and money on a futile fight that might end in disbarment anyway. An attorney still has to answer to any criminal or civil charges for the actions under inquiry.

Now, to the list, in alphabetical order.

Christopher Adamec of St. Augustine chose disciplinary revocation, but he can ask to get back in the club after five years. Adamec will be out by then. He is scheduled to be released on Oct. 11, 2020, after doing 21 months for grand theft under $100,000. The Bar was looking into him for excessive fees, fake invoices and incompetent work. The law in St. John’s County looked into the Florida Coastal School of Law graduate for stealing client funds.

Chiefland real estate attorney Gregory Beauchamp is under emergency suspension. The Bar says when its investigator went to Beauchamp’s office for trust account records to satisfy a grievance committee subpoena, Beauchamp said his trust account was in the red. The money? “I took it. I took it as fees.”

An affidavit from Bar investigator Mike Thompson said Beauchamp admitted he’d responded to some family tragedies by drinking too much and he eventually would file for disciplinary revocation, but wanted to pay his clients back first.

The Bar was investigating what happened to $170,000 that was supposed to be in Beauchamp’s trust account for an estate. The University of Florida Law School man bounced a $148,925.81 to the estate’s new lawyer and wound up in jailed in Levy County for contempt.

Miami’s Cyrus Bischoff didn’t take his Florida Supreme Court suspension from 2017 seriously and continued to practice law, acting as an escrow agent and moving money through his trust accounts in 2018. Bischoff, a graduate of Texas Southern law school, went for disciplinary revocation with permission to ask for readmission after five years.

Next stop on the disciplinary revocation train, Royal Palm Beach, where the train picks up Daniel Brinley, a Temple law school man. Brinley’s got four problems: two cases before a referee that allege neglect, incompetency and making a misrepresentation to a client, one case with an accusation of neglect and lying and one with an allegation of misappropriation.

The disciplinary revocation train’s next passenger gets on in Boca Raton, Brian Greenspoon. Greenspoon filed his reinstatement petition after serving a three-year suspension. But when he learned that the Bar knew he’d had client contact during his suspension, the University of Florida law man reached for disciplinary revocation with right to seek reinstatement after five years.

Daytona Beach lawyer Diego Handel already was suspended indefinitely when he didn’t honor a subpoena for records from the Bar. Now, with an emergency suspension, he’s double not-so-secret suspended. Wells Fargo told The Bar a check drawn on Handel’s trust account for $11,551.70 bounced on May 23, 2018.

When the Bar began investigating, it says it found $35,000 that should have gone in part to clients, but went for Handel’s relative’s tuition at Emory University; restaurants; and convenience stores.

Tamarac attorney Divya Khullar got a public reprimand for being tardy in answering a Bar inquiry.

The disciplinary revocation train is still in Boca Raton where Jeffrey Klein practiced until pleading guilty in federal court to helping run an international boiler room stock fraud from 2006 through 2009. The boiler room, where on-the-ground scammers cold called people to get them to buy worthless stock, went by the names Newbridge International, Breckinridge Administrative Providers and Cambridge Administrative Providers. The boiler rooms were in Spain.

Klein got six months’ home confinement, another 2 1/2 years’ probation, and had to pay $134,261 restitution immediately. But the University of Pittsburgh law school man can get his Bar spot back in five years.

Mark Klein of Coral Springs is suspended — again — until May 13. This is Klein’s seventh Bar discipline case resulting in suspension in the last seven years. This time, he didn’t tell his client that the lender in a foreclosure case had filed for summary judgment or that the court granted it.

Ashley Krapacs of Fort Lauderdale got an emergency suspension Feb. 27 and the Bar is arguing for more this week. As detailed in a Miami Herald story that posted Monday, Krapacs, out of University of District Columbia law, accused of a social media blitzkrieg against two other lawyers that The Bar called “terrorist legal tactics.”

Miami’s Marvin Kurzban joined The Bar in 1970. He’s 73 years old and, according to his petition for permanent disciplinary revocation, he’s got kidney, heart and back problems. He was facing discipline for asking questions that “appeared to paint opposing counsel as the fabricator of testimony” in a medical malpractice trial. The judge declared a mistrial and charged Kurzban with everybody’s legal fees. At the rematch, Kurzban said he didn’t want to get in a “cat fight,” taken as a reference to the judge and opposing counsel, both of whom were female. Neither judge asked The Bar to take it farther, but it did.

Kurzban, asking for permanent disciplinary revocation, essentially retiring.

Esmond Lewis of Fort Myers was suspended for another 91 days after not properly notifying clients and opposing counsels of his first suspension. Lewis said he did do just that, however, and has asked for a rehearing on the case.

Atlantic Beach’s Brett Mearkle, suspended for 90 days in January after ignoring clients, has been suspended since March 19 for ignoring the requirement he submit an affidavit with the clients, opposing counsel and tribunals he notified of his suspension.

Orlando’s Albert Pucylowski got an emergency suspension after going ghost. After several complaints, including the Ninth Circuit State Attorney’s Office saying Pucylowski was ignoring his cases, a Bar investigator dropped by Pucylowski’s office.

“An employee at the office next door informed Ms. Coleman that respondent had closed his office a month ago,” the Bar’s petition for emergency suspension reads, “however, clients show up almost every day attempting to contact respondent.”

The St. Mary’s law school graduate left his last known home address months ago. His former assistant says she’s got 30 to 40 client files, some of which are still active. She can’t get to the rest because they’re in the office and she’s not on the lease. She hasn’t heard from Pucylowski since the end of November.

Oldsmar’s Allison Ridenhour is suspended until Monday and ordered into a two-year rehabilitation program with Florida Lawyers Assistance, which helps lawyers with mental health or substance abuse issues. The Nova Southeastern law school graduate took fees, then didn’t do the work and ignored clients.

Here’s why Davie attorney Cory Robins reached for disciplinary revocation, according to his petition for it:

“It is alleged that Petitioner wrongfully followed the directions of his client when accepting and disbursing funds believed at the time to be client’s. Even though Petitioner at no time received directives by the third-party owners of the funds, Petitioner should have requested before disbursing the funds to the client. This resulted in the alleged improper disbursement of the funds.”

The Nova Southeastern law graduate made good with the third party. He can apply for readmission in five years.

James Schneider went for disciplinary revocation without an option to return. He’s 77, starting to serve a seven-year federal prison stretch for fraud and money laundering and the feds think he and his wife are playing Hide the Cookies with their money. Schneider, a Northwestern law school man, owes $19.7 million in restitution to 2,156 victims.

Frank Tobolsky, admitted in Florida, but working in Philadelphia, where he went to law school at Penn, has been disbarred. He stole $32,500 of client funds to cover, the Bar says, personal debts including gambling debts.

An emergency suspension clipped the legal wings of New Port Richey attorney and Stetson law school graduate Hugh Umsted, accused of stealing $82,647 from one client to pay money owed to another firm’s client in a completely separate case.

The future law desires of Silver Springs attorney Albert Vidal must be questioned after he neglected two clients and didn’t answer the Bar’s questions about the situations. The University of Florida law school graduate went for disciplinary revocation and can reapply to the Bar in five years (if he wants).

Coral Gables’ Peter Yanowich received a public reprimand after not telling a client who had invested money in a Yanowich co-owned company there was a potential conflict of interest. The client was trying to get an investor visa.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.