Eleven South Florida lawyers have been disciplined recently by the Florida Supreme Court.
Marlene Garcia of Coral Gables was suspended immediately after pleading no contest to felony cocaine possession and was adjudicated guilty.
Stephen Lebow of Hollywood, also a member of the New York Bar Association, was suspended in New York for 18 months for numerous negligent acts. He got a two-year suspension in Florida for failing to promptly notify The Florida Bar of his suspension.
Max Ricardo Whitney of Deerfield Beach was given a one-year suspension for failing to provide adequate representation in an immigration case and being uncooperative in scheduling hearings and producing documents. He also testified falsely in a deposition.
In other disciplinary action, Marlene C. Montaner of Miami was suspended for 91 days for failing to comply with the terms of a 2008 court order on compliance with the terms of a rehabilitation contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc. She was to refrain from using mood-altering substances and to participate in an abstinence-based self-help program. Montaner admitted testing positive for cocaine.
Paul Bradford Woods of Miami was suspended for 90 days for engaging in fraudulent conduct with a debtor client who he represented in a foreclosure sale. He also was ordered to attend a professionalism workshop.
Lance John Ruffe of Coral Gables was suspended for 91 days after he was found in contempt for failing to comply with a 2013 suspension order. He was supposed to notify opposing counsel, clients and courts of his suspension and provide proof of notification to The Bar. He also didn’t show proof that he scheduled an evaluation with Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc.
Bruce E. Warner of Hollywood was suspended for 90 days. He accepted $7,500 to file an alimony modification petition in a case where he should have known it was unmodifiable. He also failed to appear, provide documents or notify a couple of a hearing in another family law matter.
Caryn Alina Graham of Miami was suspended for 60 days. As managing attorney at Choice Legal Group, she failed to properly manage aspects of the fast-growing foreclosure law firm. As a result, attorneys failed to appear in court in 22 cases; failed to timely cancel foreclosure sales, file public notices and pay clerk fees; and failed to promptly notify courts or file substitutions of counsel after attorneys left the firm. Notaries also notarized signatures executed outside their presence.
Stanley Howard Orner of Boca Raton was suspended for 30 days. After agreeing to reduce a client’s bill, he encouraged her to pay it, made inappropriate comments to the client and talked to the press about her financial condition. Another client received threatening emails and phone calls. He was ordered to attend ethics school.
Patricia Ann Arango of Fort Lauderdale was suspended for 30 days. As a nonsupervisory and supervisory attorney, Arango didn’t identify, correct or manage an aspect of a fast-growing litigation division. This resulted in notaries notarizing signatures executed outside the presence or involvement of a lawyer.
Eric Andres Pintaluga of Delray Beach was ordered to be publicly reprimand. He represented a client in a personal injury case. He unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a reduction of medical fees with a doctor after receiving settlement funds. The client then negotiated directly, and Pintaluga failed to hold any portion of the settlement in his trust account due to the dispute. He also failed to interplead them in court, instead remitting the funds to the client.