5 Tampa Bay area attorneys: Who got disciplined this time around and for what?
Lawyers Beware: Shakespeare characters Dick the Butcher and Smith the Weaver seizing the Clerk of Chatham by Henry William Bunbury (1795).
Wake up and good morning. While no one seems inclined to endorse Shakespeare's line by Dick the Butcher in Henry VI -- "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" -- the Florida Bar goes so far as to discipline some of them routinely. That's a good thing since there are about 93,000 attorneys practicing in Florida.
The Florida Bar, the state's so called "guardian for the integrity of the legal profession," said this week that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 31 attorneys. Of those, 12 were disbarred and 15 suspended. Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. One attorney was placed on probation; four attorneys were publicly reprimanded and two attorneys were ordered to pay restitution.
Of those 31 disciplined attorneys in this latest round, here are five who practiced law in the Tampa Bay area:
1. Doreen M. Goldbronn, 2190 Bancroft Place, Apt. D, Palm Harbor, suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a Dec. 22, 2011 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1984) Goldbronn overcharged a client by $6,700 in an administration of trust matter. (Case No. SC11-1019).
2. Dominyka Mindaougas Netchiounas, P.O. Box 21794, Tampa, suspended for 91 days, effective immediately, retroactive to June 23, 2011, following a Nov. 18, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2002) A client paid Netchiounas $2,800 plus costs to represent her in an immigration matter. When her application was denied, the client paid Netchiounas $1,500 to conduct additional research. After months of waiting to hear from Netchiounas, the client requested the return of her file documents and a refund of the $1,500. Netchiounas never responded and the client subsequently retained new counsel to resolve her immigrations status. Netchiounas told the Bar she left all her files in the office when she closed her practice. (Case No. SC11-1234)
3. Nilesh Magan Patel, 2024 W. Cleveland St., Tampa, permanently disbarred, effective immediately, following an Oct. 7, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1996) Patel was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of an April 6, 2011, disbarment order. He was required to submit to the Bar a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities to which he gave notice of his disbarment. Patel was also ordered to pay restitution of $10,500 to a client by May 6, 2011. (Case No. SC-1085)
4. John Steele Patterson, 4404 3rd Ave. E., Bradenton, disbarred effective immediately, following a Dec. 22, 2011, court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) In December 2009, Patterson became ineligible to practice law because he was delinquent in paying disciplinary costs of more than $1,850. When he was retained to represent a client in a child custody action, he did not inform her that he was ineligible to practice law. Patterson told the client that he had filed documents in her case and had forwarded her copies by mail, when in fact he had not. Patterson failed to respond to Bar inquiries regarding the client. Patterson subsequently became delinquent in his continuing education requirements and in paying his annual membership fees. (Case No. SC11-911)
5. Joseph Anthony Tsombanidis, 905 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 630, Tarpon Springs, suspended until further order, following an Oct. 27, 2011 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2000) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Tsombanidis appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating client trust funds. Tsombanidis engaged in an escalating pattern of failure to account for and deliver funds belonging to clients and third parties. He engaged in an intentional pattern of signing up clients in order to obtain fees of large sums to be held in trust. He failed to perform agreed upon legal services, and failed to hold funds in his trust account. (Case No. SC11-1872)
Here is the latest full list of 31 disciplined attorneys statewide. For perspective, the Florida Bar issued 32 disciplinary actions in 2011 (some against the same attorneys detailed above this month) specifically against Tampa Bay area lawyers.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times