TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court has permanently disbarred Pinellas County lawyer Mark Stopa, once among the state’s best-known foreclosure defense attorneys. The court late last week also ordered Stopa to pay $31,620 in costs related to the Florida Bar’s investigation of him for numerous violations of Bar rules.
Stopa had been under indefinite suspension since last year, after a hearing in which a court-appointed referee heard testimony about his "boorish’' behavior toward judges, his failure to tell clients about bank settlement offers and other professional misconduct. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement later raided his St. Petersburg office and seized computers and records in the wake of allegations that he had acquired millions of dollars worth of property from some clients through what authorities say was a years-long pattern of fraud and deception. No criminal charges have been filed.
Stopa, who claimed to have represented more than 7,000 homeowners facing foreclosure, sold his law practice, which subsequently declared bankruptcy. He could not be reached for comment Monday.