A Florida personal injury attorney who owes clients $396,000 is, essentially, disbarred

The Tallahassee lawyer agreed to accept ‘disciplinary revocation’ for his actions.
A Tallahassee lawyer accepts punishment for his handling of clients' money.
A Tallahassee lawyer accepts punishment for his handling of clients' money. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published July 10, 2022

MIAMI — A Tallahassee personal injury attorney already under emergency suspension for not turning over records of his trust account as the Florida Bar investigated client grievances decided, officially, to give up.

The Soto Injury Law Firm’s Gus Soto, a 65-year-old admitted to the Bar in 1984, gave up his career by applying for disciplinary revocation without leave to seek readmission. Soto’s application, which was accepted by the state Supreme Court, also says he’ll give up $396,931 in restitution to five clients who allege Soto misappropriated their settlement funds.

As the state Supreme Court states, “disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. " The attorney petitions for the action, either with leave to reapply in five years or without leave to reapply in five years. As far as professional discipline, the pending discipline cases disappear. Disciplinary revocation has no effect, however, on any civil or criminal matters borne from the attorney’s actions.

The state Supreme Court suspended Soto in May after Bar subpoenas for records from Jan. 1, 2018 through Aug. 31, 2021 didn’t produce “records for (Soto’s) Regions Bank trust account, closing statements, settlement agreements, client ledgers and documentation evidencing the whereabouts of remaining balances of clients’ settlement funds.”

A total of seven grievances had been filed. Soto’s application and the state Supreme Court’s acceptance of that application says, in 60 days, Soto must pay $86,500.00 to David Wofford; $20,000.00 to Tevin McCollough on behalf of Velma Bickers’ estate; $146,189.63 to James Surber; $137,875.00 to Daniel Hirsh; and $6,367.00 to William Nealy.

— David J. Neal Miami Herald (TNS)