Broward News

Attorneys Gone Wild!

Today the Florida Bar released a list of 35 attorneys disciplined for violating rules of professional conduct. Of the 35, ten are from Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

1. William Abramson, of West Palm Beach. Abramson's case goes back to 2005, when he was defending a female client in criminal case before 15th Circuit Court Judge Richard Wennett.  During jury selection, Abramson called the judge "completely disrespectful, lacking in respect, lacking in professionalism." He said the judge "violated the procedures; he violated the rules; he was disrespectful and unprofessional, not me." Court documents say Abramson also waved his hands, rolled his eyes, pointed his finger at the judge, and hit a table with his hand. Last year, Abramson ran for the judgeship against Wennett -- and won the election, by a squeak. But in the end, he wasn't allowed to assume the bench because he was being disciplined by the Bar from the original incident. He got a 91-day suspension.  

2. Lee Arman Cohn, of Fort Lauderdale, had been temporarily disbarred a few years ago. But then he was caught practicing anyway, representing himself in court using the fake name John Contini, Esq. His punishment? Permanent disbarment.

3. Laura Hess, of Pompano Beach.

The Bar says, "Among Hess' violations, she operated a law firm in which her partner was a non-lawyer; she led clients to believe she had deposited their funds in trust accounts, when in fact, she had not; her law firm's letterhead improperly reflected addresses for out-of-state law offices; and Hess allowed individuals not licensed to practice law in Florida to represent clients."

4. Stephen Richard Kain, of Fort Lauderdale, has to go to ethics school. The Bar says Kain "was retained to file a change of status petition for a client so he could be employed and legally stay in the United States. Kain filed the petition late and failed to tell the client and the client's employer. He also lied to The Florida Bar and others, blaming another attorney at his firm for the late filing of the client's petition."

5. Erik Owen Leavell, of Fort Lauderdale, is disbarred. "In June 2008, The Florida Bar was informed by a bank that Leavell's trust account had a negative balance of more than $18,000. The Bar served Leavell with a subpoena for bank account records, which he failed to produce."

6. Okechukwu Josiah Odunna, of Lauderdhill, is suspended until further notice.
"He failed to record at least 17 original deeds and 21 original mortgages, exposing a title insurance fund to more than $10 million in claims exposure. A Florida Bar compliance audit of Odunna's trust accounting records determined that he misappropriated more than $370,000 in client funds." The Bar said he appeared to be causing "great public harm."

7. William Roach, Jr., of Plantation, was suspended for three years in 2007. In the meantime, he continued to advise clients without informing them that he was suspended. His punishment: three more years' suspension.

8. David Michael Scott, of Plantation was suspended for a year becasue he "was hired to handle an employment contract termination case. He failed to perform any work on the matter, failed communicate with the client and did not return the files to the client. Further, Scott neglected to reply to a letter from The Florida Bar regarding the case, he did not respond to a case filed with the Supreme Court of Florida and he failed to appear at the final hearing."

9. Robert L. Shepherd, of Fort Lauderdale, is suspended because he was found guilty of a felony: conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States. Shepherd used his law firm as a front to emply someone who was on probation. According to the federal case, Shepherd and his co-conspirators made materially false, fraudulent, and fictitious statements to the United States Probation Office.

10. Jay Allen Unger, of Boynton Beach, was suspended for 30 days because he was found guilty of felony drug charges and grand theft. He presented a false insurance claim for theft of a rental trailer with his two motorcycles, and made a false report of the crime.

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Deirdra Funcheon