The Florida Bar, February 1, 2022
Summaries of orders issued from December 20, 2021, to January 24, 2022
The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 11 attorneys, disbarring two, suspending seven, and revoking the licenses of two. Two attorneys were ordered to pay restitution.
The Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the more than 110,000 members of The Florida Bar. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps. Information on the discipline system and how to file a complaint are available at www.floridabar.org/attorneydiscipline.
Court orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline. Disbarred lawyers may not re-apply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the Bar exam. Attorneys suspended for periods of 91 days and longer must undergo a rigorous process to regain their law licenses including proving rehabilitation. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.
John Douglas Anderson, 4851 W Gandy Blvd., B6 L25, Tampa, suspended for three years effective 30 days following a Jan. 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2003) Anderson, in one matter, failed to competently handle a bond hearing and made a misrepresentation to the court regarding his trial experience. The court passed the matter after the client requested new counsel and Anderson left the courthouse prior to discharge. In a second matter Anderson failed to provide the client a written free agreement that memorialized the intent of the parties, failed to deposit and hold client funds in trust, and failed to competently handle the post-conviction appeals to which he was retained. In a third matter, Anderson failed to competently and diligently handle an adoption to which he was retained to represent the petitioner. The court found Anderson in indirect civil contempt of court for failure to file the necessary documents. (Case No: SC20-1642)
David Garrett Blake, 1711 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, suspended for one year effective 30 days following a Jan. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) In one matter, Blake failed to diligently represent a client in his personal injury matter and failed to reasonably communicate with the client. Blake was not truthful to the client regarding the progression of the client’s case, nor was he truthful to the Bar in his sworn statement and he divulged confidential information that was not reasonably necessary to respond to the client’s allegations nor to establish a defense on Blake’s behalf. In a second matter, Blake was suspended from the practice of law for 179 days by the State Bar of Michigan for failing to provide competent representation to his clients; failing to seek the lawful objectives of his clients; failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing clients; failing to reasonably communicate with clients; bringing or defending an action that was frivolous; failing to make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation in the interest of his clients; and engaging in conduct that was contrary to justice, ethics, honesty, or good morals. (Case No: SC21-903)
Catherine Elizabeth Czyz, 931 Village Blvd., Suite 905-242, West Palm Beach, suspended for two years and ordered to pay restitution to the client in the amount of $41,798.45 effective 30 days following a Jan. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1997) Czyz filed a discrimination suit on behalf of a client after the principal of the school where the client was employed as a teacher declined to recommend her for the principal pool. The suit was filed against the principal and school board alleging that the client was discriminated against on the basis of her looks, her wealth and her national origin. The case was immediately removed to federal court by the opposing counsel, where Czyz was not licensed to practice and never attempted to gain admission. Czyz continued to file pleadings in federal court, including a frivolous motion for sanctions against the opposing counsel for removing the case to federal court. At the time the civil complaint was filed, the client had paid Czyz over $40,000 in fees and costs. Czyz excessively billed the client and failed to maintain a trust account during the representation. (Case No: SC19-1545)
LaDray Brandan Gilbert, P.O. Box 670, Marianna, disciplinary revocation with leave to seek readmission after 5 years, payment of restitution to clients, and payment of disciplinary costs effective 30 days following a Jan. 24 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Gilbert failed to diligently represent his clients and to communicate with them on the status of their cases. In four personal injury cases, Gilbert stole trust funds belonging to the clients for his own benefit and use. In other cases, Gilbert took client funds and failed to pursue the clients’ cases. (Case No: SC21-1611)
Gary W. Kovacs, Main Detention Center, P.O. Box 24716, West Palm Beach, permanent disciplinary revocation effective immediately following a Jan. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Kovacs continued to practice law and received payment for legal services after his disciplinary revocation in which he agreed to cease the practice of law beginning on January 4, 2018, and through the date that the Court accepted his disciplinary revocation. Kovacs has been criminally charged for that misconduct. (Case No: SC 21-1613)
Basil Von Lashley, 7922 W. Chelsea Court, Homosassa, disbarred effective immediately following a Jan. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2011) On August 26, 2021, Lashley was adjudicated guilty of eight counts of possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony. On August 26, 2021, Lashley was sentenced to four years imprisonment as to each count, to run concurrently, with credit for 714 days of time served, to be followed by one year of sex offender probation as to each count, to run concurrently. Lashley also was fined and was required to be designated and registered as a sexual offender. Additionally, Lashley was required to undergo a psychosexual evaluation and treatment. (Case No: SC21-1536)
Jiulio Margalli, 1306 Virginia St., Key West, suspended for two years effective nunc pro tunc to a Dec. 20, 2018 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1993) Margalli engaged in misconduct in his own divorce and neglected several clients. (Case No: SC21-1686)
Kelly Anne McCabe, 535 Central Ave., Suite 435, St. Petersburg, McCabe was found in contempt and precluded from seeking readmission from a previously imposed disbarment effective immediately following a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2004) McCabe failed to respond to official Bar inquiries in eight Florida Bar investigations. The Florida Bar filed a Petition for Order to Show Cause, to which McCabe failed to respond. (Case No: SC21-1597)
Lora S. Scott, 37 N. Orange Ave., Suite 500, Orlando, suspended for 30 days effective 30 days following a Jan. 13 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) During the representation of a client in a family law matter, Scott failed to respond to court orders related to her client’s overdue discovery responses. Scott also failed to timely advise her client of the court’s orders. As a result, the court awarded attorney’s fees and costs to opposing counsel for which Scott and her client were held jointly liable. (Case No: SC21-190)
Mark D. Siegel, 3205 Southgate Cir., Suite 4, Sarasota, suspended effective 30 days following a Jan. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1983) Siegel failed to respond to several official Bar inquiries concerning a complaint filed by a former client. After his failure to respond, the Bar filed a Petition for Contempt and Order to Show Cause and the Court issued an Order to Show Cause on Nov. 5, 2021. (Case No: SC21-1533)
Kenneth Edward Walton II, 701 Brickell Ave., Miami, suspended for 91 days effective 30 days following a Dec. 20 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1999) Walton had five discipline files related to neglect, duty to decline representation, delaying or burdening a third party, failure to return unearned fees, and failure to maintain technical trust accounting records. (Case No: SC21-243)