Article Courtesy of The
By David J. Neal
Published September 6, 2018
In a Monday morning email to The Miami Herald, John
Admire, the attorney for Gertrude Weiner’s estate personal
representative, said “Last month, Rene Garcia paid the estate $150,000
to cover what was not paid to the IRS and other costs of collection.”
As the closing agent on the sale of a dead woman’s condominium, South
Miami lawyer Rene Julian Garcia received $367,073 into his trust
account. But when her estate and the Florida Bar began asking about
$148,000 in bounced checks to the IRS on the woman’s behalf, Garcia came
up with excuses and stalling worthy of an irresponsible teenager:
Bank mistake. My mistake — issued the checks from the wrong account. The
checks aren’t in the mail; they were delivered. Personal banker at Chase
is out this week. Can’t access the trust account online on the cellphone
from Uruguay. Grandmother died two weeks after suffering a stroke on
The state Supreme Court ended Garcia’s excuses with a suspension
followed by disbarment last month.
Garcia already had been found in contempt for not providing all the
documentation Florida Bar investigators requested. By the time the
referee’s report was issued in April, Garcia had stopped participating
in the disciplinary process.
In addition to disbarring Garcia, the court entered a judgment of
$7,503.46 in the Florida Bar’s favor against Garcia and ordered
$148,034.67 of restitution to Gertrude Weiner’s estate.
Weiner died in May 2016 and her condominium was sold Jan. 31, 2017.
According to the petition for emergency suspension, Garcia received
$367,073 into trust account No. 0291. He quickly moved that money into
trust account No. 8770.
Garcia was supposed to send the Internal Revenue Service three checks
worth $144,212.99 to cover Weiner’s tax debt from 2012, 2013 and 2015.
He sent Feb. 1, 2017, letters to the IRS and Weiner estate personal
representative Steven Brown that he’d sent those checks.
Come May, Brown told Garcia the IRS didn’t have the checks. In June,
after telling Brown he’d deal with it after the funeral arrangements for
his dead grandmother, Garcia told him replacement checks were issued in
April 2017 and sent to the IRS with a U.S. Postal Service tracking
“Mr. Brown was able to confirm that a 6 delivery with that tracking
number had been received by the IRS, but still no payments had been
processed regarding the Weiner Estate,” the referee’s report said. “In
reviewing the tracking receipt, the Bar’s Auditor was able to ascertain
that Respondent had provided that same tracking receipt in his response
to an unrelated Bar grievance filed with the Bar in April, 2017.”
Chase Bank informed the Bar that a check to the IRS for $44,254.91 on
account No. 8770 had bounced on June 23 and June 28. Garcia said that
was a Chase mistake as he had put a stop payment on the check. He told
the Bar he put the stop payment on it because he realized he’d
transferred the money to another trust account at Chase.
Brown got notice from the IRS that the $44,254.91 check was returned for
insufficient funds and a stop payment was issued on the $103,779.76
check. He told Garcia via June 5, 2017, e-mail that the IRS was “sending
Brown filed a Bar complaint against Garcia in August 2017. The Bar
already had one complaint working against Garcia after his response to
the bounced check.
An examination of the episode by Cassandra Ferrer, a CPA employed as the
Florida Bar’s Miami Branch auditor, found as of Sept. 29, 2017, Garcia’s
four trust accounts should have had, at bare minimum, Weiner’s tax
Total in Garcia’s trust accounts: $26.65.
“In my professional opinion, based on my preliminary review of the
documents and information received from Complainant, Respondent and the
financial institutions, Respondent has misappropriated the Estate’s
funds,” Ferrer wrote in an affidavit.