The Florida Supreme Court disciplined 14 South Florida attorneys in April, according to the Florida Bar.
The court suspended eight lawyers, publicly reprimanded four and granted two others disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after five years.
The high court publicly reprimanded foreclosure defense attorneys and one-time colleagues Lisa Ehrenreich, Monica Reyes and Alexandra Kontos, former owners and managing partners of defunct firm, Reyes Kontos & Ehrenreich, also known as RKE Law Group. It found the three attorneys charged “clearly excessive or illegal fees” to clients.
The Florida Supreme Court also found the ex-partners delegated cases to inexperienced associates and then failed to communicate with clients. It placed all three on probation for three years. It also ordered Ehrenreich to pay more than $11,000 in restitution to three clients, and ordered her and Kontos to attend ethics school.
Miami Beach attorney Tonia Marie Troutwine was disciplined for being “dishonest in representations she made to a law enforcement officer” and for costing a notary his license, according to information from the bar. The high court publicly reprimanded her for lying to an officer about her work preparing power-of-attorney documents. Troutwine took over the financial and legal affairs of her elderly neighbor without the woman’s consent. The neighbor suffered from dementia, and Troutwine gave the notary false information to execute the paperwork, according to the bar.
The Supreme Court also granted Coral Springs attorney David Peter Ginzberg’s petition for a disciplinary revocation, with leave to seek readmission after five years. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Ginzberg was under investigation for multiple allegations, including claims he misappropriated client funds.
The court also granted a disciplinary revocation petition from Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney Vincent Joseph Pravato, who was one of six lawyers arrested last year in a wide-ranging auto insurance fraud sting. Pravato pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony count of communications fraud, patient brokering and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. He signed a plea agreement for five years’ probation, 250 hours of community service and $16,408 in restitution payments to insurers Geico, Mercury, Allstate and Progressive.
The court suspended Coral Gables attorney Aldo Guillermo Busot Jr. for three years. He has been practicing in Florida since 1987. He filed a complaint on a client’s behalf in September 2011 and a trial was set for March 2013, but he let the litigation fizzle, according to the allegations against him. The bar claimed he neglected the case, delayed the litigation and missed deadlines in pretrial scheduling orders.
Also suspended was Philip Maurice Gerson, a Miami attorney practicing since 1970, for violating bar rules governing conflicts of interest involving attorneys’ current and former clients in tobacco litigation. Another veteran attorney, Steven Kent Hunter of Coral Gables, also received a 30-day suspension for client-related conflicts of interest in the same case. Hunter was admitted to the bar in 1976.
Fort Lauderdale attorney Kevin Lawrence Hagen received a 10-day suspension.following a public reprimanded by a federal court committee that prohibited from accepting new cases in the Southern District of Florida for six months. Court documents allege Hagen and his client missed court appearances and failed to obey rulings.
Kenneth Joseph Kukec of Miami got a three-year suspension after the high court found he failed to comply with a September 2017 suspension order requiring him to wind down his operations; inform clients, opposing counsel and courts of his suspension; and provide the bar with the names and addresses of those he notified.
North Miami Beach attorney Madsen Marcellus Jr. was suspended indefinitely over his divorce. The court found Marcellus missed scheduled hearings, his testimony during his divorce proceedings was not credible, and he did not obey the court’s ruling on handling the marital home.
West Palm Beach litigator Andrew David Stine got a 10-day suspension for his work representing a woman suing a daycare center for alleged child abuse. Stine subpoenaed the center for surveillance video, but the document was unenforceable because he had failed to first file suit.
Also suspended for 10 days was Miami attorney Daniel Edward Tropp for his work representing a client on a workers’ compensation claim with a related negligence lawsuit. The high court found Tropp violated bar rules by failing to keep settlement funds in trust and disputing ownership of trust funds.