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2 local attorneys among 16 disciplined in Florida

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Bar announced the Florida Supreme Court disciplined 16 attorneys – including one from Jacksonville and one from Atlantic Beach.

Five attorneys were disbarred, two had their licenses revoked, eight were suspended and one was publicly reprimanded.

Four attorneys received more than one form of discipline. One was ordered to pay restitution and three attorneys were placed on probation.

Below is a list of attorneys disciplined and the reasons why, according to the Florida Supreme Court.

  • Keirsten Klatch, Jacksonville -- suspended until further order, effective immediately, following a May 17 court order. Klatch was found in contempt for failing to respond in writing to a Bar subpoena for records and an inquiry regarding the whereabouts of a client’s funds.
  • William Reid Penuel, Atlantic Beach -- disbarred effective immediately, following an April 21 court order. Further, Penuel shall pay restitution of $147,495. Penuel withdrew funds from an estate account without authorization. He provided no accounting of the missing funds nor has he returned the funds to the estate account. Penuel failed to appear before the bankruptcy court as ordered and was held in contempt.
  • Angela Morton Armstrong, Palm Harbor -- disbarred effective immediately, following an April 21 court order. Armstrong was not diligent in the performance of services for which she had been retained. She accepted fees and failed to keep clients reasonably informed about the status of their cases. In numerous instances, there were no records showing that Armstrong filed bankruptcy cases on behalf of clients.
  • George Joseph Charnota, Coral Gables -- suspended for one year, effective immediately, following an April 12 court order. Charnota was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of a July 27, 2015, suspension order. Specifically, Charnota was required to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension and provide the Bar with a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of his suspension order
  • Sarah E. Cox, Fort Myers -- to be publicly reprimanded following a May 19 court order. Cox shall also attend ethics school. Cox represented a client on a variety of legal matters and received a total of $90,000. The client claims the fees are excessive, and the two are involved in civil litigation. Cox acknowledges that she should have more frequently and more thoroughly communicated in writing the precise amount and nature of every charge in order to avoid misunderstanding. 
  • Richard John DeSanto, Fort Lauderdale -- The Supreme Court granted DeSanto’s request for a disciplinary revocation, effective 30 days from a May 19 court order, with leave to seek readmission after five years. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against DeSanto involved an allegation stemming from an uninsured motorist claim.
  • Mirta Desir, West Palm Beach -- suspended until further order, effective immediately, following a May 13 court order. Desir was found in contempt for failure to respond to an official Bar inquiry. Letters were sent to Desir in December 2015 by U.S. Mail and email advising of a complaint. On Dec. 30, 2015, an email was received from Desir stating that the law firm closed its doors in 2014 and that she would respond to all emails as they were received.
  • Michelle Dawn Lambo, Tampa -- suspended for 60 days, effective 30 days from a May 19 court order. Upon reinstatement, Lambo is further placed on probation for three years. Lambo was involved in an automobile accident in which her vehicle struck a stationary vehicle that was waiting to turn. Lambo failed to remain at the scene and left on foot. Lambo is remorseful and believes that her decision may have been influenced by her abuse of alcohol during that time period. She has since entered into a contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance and has been fully compliant. 
     
  • William Todd Long, Winter Park -- disbarred, effective immediately, following a May 12 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1989) Long pervasively misappropriated client trust funds, to which he was not entitled, for business expenses and for his personal benefit. He failed to respond to the Bar’s nine letters and six subpoenas requiring production of his trust account records; he misrepresented himself as a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, when in fact he was not; and he improperly charged personal injury clients an administrative fee of $100 to $200. Long also failed to comply with the emergency suspension order issued by the Supreme Court of Florida that required notification of his suspension to all clients, opposing counsel, and courts to which he was counsel of record.
  • Eric Andrew Mader, Tampa -- suspended for three years, effective retroactive to June 18, 2014, following a May 19 court order. Mader is further placed on probation for three years. Mader improperly handled a case involving the collection of a commercial debt. Additionally, Mader is not licensed in Missouri, but engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, beginning in 2012, representing Missourians in loan modification and foreclosure defense cases. He charged and received advance payment prior to fully performing all services.
  • Robert Andrew Mogle, Davie -- disbarred effective immediately, following an April 14 court order. Mogle accepted money to represent several clients but took no significant action on the cases. He also abandoned his law practice without giving notice to clients or The Florida Bar. 
  • Nicol John Panebianco, Fort Lauderdale -- suspended for 90 days, effective June 1, following an April 14 court order. Upon reinstatement, Panebianco is further placed on probation for three years with the following conditions: He contacts Florida Lawyers Assistance for an evaluation; he undergoes a review by the Diversion/Discipline Consultation Service; he attends a trust accounting workshop; and he writes letters of apology to 13 people for his behavior. Panebianco’s emails, court documents and telephone calls contained threats and personal insults. He had no recognition of what was appropriate and what was inappropriate to say to a judge. He was found in contempt on two occasions for failure to appear before the court. Panebianco also violated trust accounting procedures. 
  • Cherie A. Parker, Largo -- suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a May 12 court order. Parker was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of a Sept. 9, 2015, suspension order. Specifically, Parker was required to notify her clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of her suspension and provide the Bar with a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of her suspension order.
  • Garry Lee Potts, Clearwater -- suspended for one year, effective immediately, following a May 13 court order. Potts was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of an Oct. 15, 2015, suspension order. Specifically, Potts was required to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension and provide the Bar with a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of his suspension order.
  • Erwin Rosenberg, Miami Beach -- disbarred effective immediately, following an April 15 court order. Rosenberg was found in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of a May 28, 2015, suspension order. Specifically, Rosenberg was required to notify his clients, opposing counsel and tribunals of his suspension and provide the Bar with a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that received a copy of his suspension order. He also held himself out as an attorney while suspended, using the designation Esquire, and continued to practice law.
     
  • David Land Whigham, Tampa -- The Supreme Court granted Whigham’s request for a permanent disciplinary revocation, without leave to seek readmission, effective immediately, following a May 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1998) Whigham had previously been placed under emergency suspension for misappropriating more than $899,000.00. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. Disciplinary matters pending against Whigham involved trust accounts.