The Florida Supreme Court disciplined 11 South Florida attorneys in recent actions brought by the Florida Bar.
Of those disciplined, 10 attorneys were suspended and one was publicly reprimanded, according to a news release.
Here are some of the actions by the Bar:
• Patricia Ann Arango, of Fort Lauderdale, was suspended for 30 days, effective Dec. 13. As a non-supervisory and supervisory attorney, Arango did not identify, correct or manage an aspect of a fast-growing litigation division. That resulted in notaries notarizing signatures executed without the presence or active involvement of a lawyer.
• Mariene Garcia, of Coral Gables, was suspended effective immediately following a Dec. 5 court order. Garcia pleaded no contest in court to one felony count of possession of cocaine and was found guilty.
• Caryn Alina Graham, of Miami, was suspended for 60 days, effective Dec. 13. As a supervising/managing attorney for a law firm, Graham failed to properly manage some aspects of the fast-growing company. It resulted in numerous problems, including: failure of some attorneys to appear in court before judges in approximately 22 cases; failure to timely cancel foreclosure sales and/or failure to file a publication notice and pay the clerks fees, and failure to promptly notify the court or file a substitution of lead counsel for those cases assigned to attorneys who left the law firm.
• Stephen Bogart Lebow, of Hollywood, was suspended for two years, effective 30 days from a Nov. 21. Lebow is also a member of the New York State Bar Association. In 2001, Lebow was suspended from practicing law in New York for 18 months. The sanction was based on findings that he neglected a client, failed to promptly refund certain unearned fees, failed to communicate with the client and made misrepresentations to the disciplinary committee during its investigation of the matter. Lebow failed to timely notify The Florida Bar of this New York Bar suspension.
• Marlene Montaner, of Miami, was suspended for 91 days followed by two years probation, effective Feb. 24. Montaner was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of an August 2008 court order directing her to comply with the terms of a rehabilitation contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance in which she was required to refrain from using mood altering substances and participate in an abstinence-based self-help program Montaner admitted to testing positive for cocaine.
• Stanley Howard Orner, of Boca Raton, was suspended for 30 days, effective 30 days from a Dec. 5. Orner agreed to reduce a client’s bill and during a subsequent telephone conversation regarding their billing dispute, Orner made several inappropriate remarks to the client. He also sent an email to the woman encouraging the woman to pay her bill and he talked to the press about the client’s financial situation. Another client received threatening emails and phone calls from Orner. Orner shall attend ethics school.
• Eric Andres Pintaluga, of Delray Beach, will be publicly reprimanded following a Nov. 21 court order. Pintaluga represented a client in a personal injury case and after receiving the settlement fund he attempted to negotiate a reduction of medical fees with the doctor without success. The client decided to negotiate directly with the doctor. He failed to hold any portion of the settlement in his trust account due to the dispute. He also failed to interplead them to the court. Instead, he remitted the funds to the client.
• Lance John Ruffe, of Coral Gables, was suspended for 91 days, effective 30 days from a Nov. 21 court order. Ruffe was found in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of an April 16 suspension order. Ruffe was required to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension and provide to The Florida Bar, within 30 days of his suspension. Ruffe also failed to provide proof to The Florida Bar that he had scheduled an evaluation with Florida Lawyers Assistance.
• Bruce Warner, of Hollywood, was suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from Nov. 21. In one case, Warner represented a couple in a family law case. He failed to appear at a scheduled hearing, failed to prepare documents for the hearing and failed to notice the husband to appear. The wife notified the court that she had trouble communicating with Warner. Warner also failed to return the call of the magistrate presiding over the case.
• Max Ricardo Whitney, of Deerfield Beach, was suspended for one year, effective Jan. 18. Whitney was hired to provide immigration and legal advice to a client. He failed to communicate with the client and provide adequate representation. In subsequent litigation with the client, Whitney was uncooperative in scheduling hearings, failed to timely produce requested documents and testified falsely at a deposition.
• Paul Bradford Woods, of Miami, was suspended for 90 days, effective 30 days from a Dec. 5 court order. Woods was retained to represent clients in a foreclosure sale matter. After a scheduled hearing at which Woods and the debtors convinced the trial court to discharge the debt owed to the bank, an appeals court reversed the decision. The court found that the debtors engaged in fraudulent conduct and Woods’ defense of the debtors on appeal was frivolous.
Source : Shaun Bevan