The state Supreme Court disciplined nine South Florida attorneys, including one practicing law under two different names for 20 years, and one whose conduct forced an immigration client back to Venezuela.
Angela Abell — a.k.a. Angela Hill — of Miami was disbarred for gross negligence in guardianship cases and misappropriation of client funds, on top of two decades of practicing law under two different names, the Florida Bar announced Wednesday. The solo practitioner may seek readmission after five years.
Franklin Ferguson of Miami was disbarred with leave to seek readmission after five years. The pending charges against him involved allegations of lack of competence and diligence, excessive fees and misappropriation of client trust funds.
John Cruz II of Miami Lakes was suspended for three months and ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution to clients. He failed to communicate after accepting fees in two different cases, and he failed to take action to obtain surplus funds of more than $192,000 for a client, according to the bar.
Mark Gallegos of Miami was suspended for three months for failing to file documents and adequately communicate with clients in two immigration cases, one of which was pro bono. One of the clients was forced to leave his job because he couldn’t re-enter the U.S. and had to return to Venezuela, according to the bar.
Stephanie Kraft of Coral Springs was suspended for two years and must complete 30 hours of legal ethics or professionalism classes. The decision extends her 2015 suspension after being charged with official misconduct, a third-degree felony. Adjudication was withheld after the jury trial.
Mitchell Silverstein of Davie was suspended for three years after he pleaded no contest to six counts of child neglect and one count of possession of marijuana.
Steven Ainbinder of Boca Raton will be publicly reprimanded for endorsing a check to his clients but then failing to hold disputed fees in trust for another party involved in the case.
David Eagle of Fort Lauderdale will be publicly reprimanded for oversights he made when his health was suffering, according to the bar. During that time, he directed a paralegal to draft a complaint but didn’t find out until the statute of limitations expired that his coverage counsel never filed it.
Benjamin Jacobi of North Miami will be publicly reprimanded for filing a claim against the estate of a longtime client’s son without her knowledge. The client had hired him to represent her daughter-in-law, who was appointed as personal representative of the estate a year before Jacobi sued the estate.