The state Supreme Court disciplined three South Florida attorneys, including one who pleaded guilty to being part of an auto insurance fraud and another with less than $40 in his client trust account.
Francisco Aguero of Coral Gables was suspended on an emergency basis after the bar discovered he had just $36.97 in his client trust account. The balance should have been about $135,000, according to the bar, which claimed Aguero appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating funds.
Elaine Laura of Margate was disbarred with the option to reapplyin five years. The bar claimed she misused trust funds meant for a client’s medical expenses. The client discovered the issue when a $6,200 check bounced and was quickly repaid.
The bar also claimed Laura agreed to represent her friend in a civil case, but then neglected the case after she and the friend had a falling-out.
Vincent Pravato of Fort Lauderdale was suspended until further notice after he pleaded guilty to three felony counts in connection with an auto insurance fraud scheme. Authorities say Pravato and five others made fraudulent motor vehicle tort and personal injury protection claims after paying for referrals from tow truck drivers, auto repair workers and others.
Pravato, of Wolf and Pravato, pleaded guilty to communications fraud, patient brokering and unlawful use of a two-way communications device. He was sentenced to five years of probation and 250 hours of community service. He also must pay about $16,000 in restitution to insurers Geico, Mercury, Allstate and Progressive.
Another attorney arrested in connection with the scheme, Steven Slootsky of Boca Raton, agreed to plead guilty to 15 felonies, spend up to five years in prison and pay more than $170,200 in restitution. His petition for a disciplinary revocation is pending before the Florida Supreme Court.