TAMPA — The Florida Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded Tampa lawyer Natalie K. Khawam, the sister of Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite who helped expose the 2012 sex scandal that led to the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus.
The Florida Bar said Tuesday that Khawam acknowledged charging a client excessive fees. She is the president and founder of the Whistleblower Law Firm at 400 N Tampa St.
According to a Jan. 11 order, real estate agent Ronald Mastrodonato filed complaints against Khawam, 42, after he hired her to represent him in a Second District Court of Appeals case.
By the time Khawam filed an initial appellate brief and related documents, she had billed about $95,000 in fees and collected about $65,000 from Mastrodonato, records show.
Khawam charged an hourly rate of $400 for herself and for law clerks hired by her firm.
Mastrodonato fired Khawam and her firm after she filed the first brief. She is now required to reach a settlement with Mastrodonato with a Florida Bar-appointed Fee Arbitration Coordinator, the order said. She also agreed to pay $1,489 in legal costs associated with the case.
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