The Florida Supreme Court has dealt a three-year suspension order to a veteran South Florida lawyer accused of insider trading.
The high court issued an order suspending Boca Raton attorney Donald Tescher on Friday. Because he had already been suspended indefinitely, his three-year sanction commenced immediately upon the motion’s filing.
The Florida Bar’s ethics case against Tescher was assembled in light of insider trading charges against him and four other Floridians by the SEC in 2015. The federal agency alleged that Tescher was one of several individuals to illegally profit from the sale of pharmaceutical company Pharmasset to California-based biotechnology company Gilead Sciences.
Read the suspension order:
In 2011, Tescher was informed by one his clients, a board member of Pharmasset, that the company was slated to be sold to Gilead for a considerable sum. The longtime tax attorney purchased $10,000 in Pharmasset stock shortly after receiving the tip.
According to the SEC, Tescher and affiliated parties sold their stock following Gilead’s purchase and collectively netted more than $234,000 in earnings. Tescher opted to settle with the SEC upon having charges filed against him and paid in excess of $20,000 to the agency; besides a prejudgment interest of $690, his settlement was split evenly between his gains of $9,937 from the Pharmasset sale and the $9,937 fine issued against him.
In August 2017, West Palm Beach Circuit Court Judge Peter Evans, the Florida Bar referee appointed to Tescher’s case, found that he was guilty of violating Florida Bar rules. The judge recommended that Tescher only receive a one-year suspension in light of his lack of disciplinary history, prompt settlement and other mitigating factors.
Although the state Supreme Court accepted Evans’ findings, they rejected his recommended sanction for Tescher. A July 2018 motion responding to the referee’s suggested disciplinary action signaled the high court’s inclination to impose a stringent punishment against Tescher. In addition to suspending him indefinitely, the filing asked him to show cause as to “why the referee’s recommended sanction should not be disapproved and a more severe sanction, up to and including disbarment, be imposed.”
Tescher, who was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1969, had accumulated a number of accolades and prestigious titles to his name prior to his suspension. He had previously served as the chair of the Florida Bar’s tax section in addition to serving on its Real Property Executive Council for two decades before the case against him was opened in 2016.
Tescher offered no comment on his suspension when reached by the Daily Business Review. His counsel, Miami litigator David Rothman, declined to comment as well.