Summaries of orders issued from December 28, 2020, to January 21, 2021
The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined nine attorneys, disbarring four, suspending six and reprimanding one. One attorney was placed on probation.
As an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the more than 108,000 members of The Florida Bar. Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps. Information on the discipline system and how to file a complaint are available at www.floridabar.org/attorneydiscipline.
Court orders are not final until time expires to file a rehearing motion and, if filed, determined. The filing of such a motion does not alter the effective date of the discipline. Disbarred lawyers may not re-apply for admission for five years. They are required to go through an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the Bar exam. Attorneys suspended for periods of 91 days and longer must undergo a rigorous process to regain their law licenses including proving rehabilitation. Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.
Frank T. Blainey, 455 Alt. 19 S., G107, Palm Harbor, suspended for 91 days and probation for three-years effective 30 days following a Dec. 28, 2020, court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) In 2016, Blainey was drinking socially with a client, resulting in a physical altercation. On July 20, 2018, Blainey was convicted of misdemeanor battery. In addition to being intoxicated at the time of the incident, Blainey has a history of DUIs and issues with alcohol. After his arrest, Blainey failed to provide The Bar with updates regarding his criminal case. (Case No: SC19-372)
Lisbeth A Freeman, P.O. Box 6867, Fort Myers Beach, disbarred, effective immediately because of her current suspension. (Admitted to practice: 2014) Freeman was hired to assist in the probate matter of a client’s deceased wife’s estate. Freeman filed a Petition for Administration along with the death certificate and a will but failed to take any further action on the court file and failed to communicate with the client. Freeman abandoned representing the client and relocated to Pennsylvania without withdrawing from the case or notifying the client. She failed to respond to The Florida Bar and failed to participate in the disciplinary proceeding. (Case No: SC20-892)
George Crosby Gaskell, III, P.O. Box 1111, Stuart, public reprimand and required to complete Ethics School effective Jan. 25 following a Jan. 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2007) Gaskell filed or attempted to file a series of unsuccessful or insufficient bankruptcy petitions in an attempt to save his home from foreclosure. Four were dismissed because of technical errors or Gaskell’s failure to properly prosecute the proceeding. Three were not accepted by the clerk of court because of technical deficiencies. Gaskell’s unsuccessful efforts to pursue a bankruptcy or negotiate a loan modification caused repeated delays in finalizing the foreclosure case. (Case No: SC20-1005)
Joseph Wimbert Gibson Jr., 19 W. Flagler St., Suite 417, Miami, suspended for six months, effective 30 days following a Jan. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1982) Gibson was retained to appeal a conviction but instead filed an insufficient Anders brief to withdraw from the criminal case. He was sanctioned for failing to assist the client in obtaining a substitute counsel as the court-ordered three times. Gibson failed to communicate with his client that there was no arguable merit to his case before the brief was filed, and delayed providing a copy of the appeal record to him despite being ordered to do so five times. (Case No: SC19-792)
Stephen Michael Jones, 390 N. Orange Avenue, Suite 2300, Orlando, suspended effective immediately following a Jan. 8 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2015) Jones was found in contempt for failing to respond to an official Bar inquiry. He also failed to respond to the Court’s Order to Show Cause in this matter. Jones is currently on emergency suspension, effective Dec. 9, 2020, in Case No. SC20-1593. A petition for emergency suspension is granted by the Florida Supreme Court when The Florida Bar presents clear and convincing evidence that a lawyer appears to be causing great public harm (see Rule 3-5.2(a)) and also constitutes a formal complaint so that the matter is fully investigated and a final disciplinary action is ordered. (Case No: SC20-1406)
Allison Kelliher, 293 Knotty Wood Lane, Wellington, suspended, effective 30 days following a Jan. 6 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2008) Kelliher failed to respond to Bar inquiries and the Florida Supreme Court’s order to show cause. She is suspended until she fully responds in writing to the Bar inquiry, and until further order of the Court. (Case No: SC20-1622)
Edward Juan Lynum, 6813 County Road 219, Wildwood, disbarred effective immediately following a Jan. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2005) During personal litigation proceedings, Lynum repeatedly made statements that disparaged the judiciary, opposing counsels and other litigants and parties. Lynum also failed to comply with court orders, and he filed frivolous federal lawsuits. In the disciplinary proceeding, Lynum failed to appear for his scheduled sworn statement and scheduled court appearances, failed to respond to the Bar’s complaint and discovery requests, and failed to appear for the sanction hearing. (Case No: SC20-746)
Beth Ann Maliszewski, P.O. Box 2425, Fort Myers, disbarred, effective immediately because of the current suspension. (Admitted to practice: 2001) Maliszewski is a party in a paternity action involving visitation and paternity rights over her child. After becoming aware of a potential paternity action, Maliszewski filed an injunction against the child’s prospective father and had him arrested, resulting in him receiving a no contact order with the child. On the day the paternity action was filed, Maliszewski, via counsel, voluntarily dismissed the Petition for Injunction. Maliszewski avoided service in the paternity action, refusing to appear in court. She stopped working, turned off her phone and disappeared with the child. In a second matter, Maliszewski was appointed and paid $1,000 for a Guardian ad Litem family law matter and failed to fulfill her duties. She did not respond to The Florida Bar or participate in the disciplinary proceeding. (Case No: SC20-813)
George Edward Ollinger, III, 100 Rialto Place, Suite 700, Melbourne, suspended by petition for emergency suspension effective 30 days following a Jan. 19 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1977) Ollinger engaged in patterns of misconduct, including, but not limited to, misappropriating client’s funds, commingling attorney and client funds, and engaging in conflicts of interest. A petition for emergency suspension is granted by the Florida Supreme Court when The Florida Bar presents clear and convincing evidence that a lawyer appears to be causing great public harm (see Rule 3-5.2(a)) and also constitutes a formal complaint so that the matter is fully investigated and a final disciplinary action is ordered. (Case No: SC21-28)
Andrew Spark, 13201 Roosevelt Ave., PMB 818085, Flushing, N.Y., disbarred retroactive to July 15, 2019, when he was suspended because of a felony conviction, following a. Jan. 21 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1991) Spark abused his privilege to practice law and used his law license to engage in deception with the intent to access private rooms provided to attorneys in two separate jail facilities for the purpose of soliciting prostitution. Spark video recorded these encounters with the goal of creating an adult pornographic film for his own prurient and/or financial interest. He pleaded guilty to three separate charges and was sentenced in each case to probation. (Case No: SC19-1163)
Barbara Jean Throne, P.O. Box 303, Blountstown, 91-day suspension plus attendance at Ethics School and Professionalism Workshop prior to reinstatement, effective 30 days following a Jan. 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1988) After filing a notice of appeal in her client’s criminal case, Throne failed to diligently represent her client and to adequately communicate with him. Throne failed to respond to numerous communications from the First District Court of Appeal to comply with court rules and orders resulting in the dismissal of her client’s appeal. Throne also failed to reply to the Bar’s disciplinary complaint and did not comply with the Referee’s pretrial order. (Case No: SC20-537)