One lawyer used client funds for Heat tickets, another was in a $3.25M scam. Then, trouble

Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald

By David J. Neal    

Published January 31, 2019


Though the last two discipline reports from the Florida Bar included a relatively light combined total of 19 attorneys combined, the stories behind the disbarments and suspensions have a little more weight.


Lawyers victimized by fraud and lawyers who participated in fraud. And attorneys who took the money and, if not ran, disappeared, at least professionally.

  • Golden Beach attorney Jeremy Alters, admitted 1997 out of UM School of Law, jumped in the deep end of trouble over improper transfers from Alters, Boldt, Brown, Rash and Culmo’s trust account to the operating account. The Bar alleged that forty-nine such transfers occurred, totaling approximately $2,051,474.32, between September 2009 and December 2010. The Court approved the Bar’s Petition for Emergency Suspension and suspended Alters from the practice of law on December 28, 2011. The Referee found that Alters should be reinstated because there was “no basis to conclude that Alters had made or authorized the improper transfers, and that no clients had been injured by the improper transfers.” When the Florida Supreme Court reinstated Alters in January 2012, the Bar filed another complaint alleging Alters violated six Bar rules regarding the transfers. The Referee opined that Alters not be further sanctioned, but that he pay the Bar’s administrative costs ($1,250) while the Bar pays Alters’ legal defense costs ($143,913.35). The Bar challenged everything in the Referee’s Report but the ink and asked the State Supreme Court to disbar Alters. The Court found the Referee improperly excluded evidence that Alters lied about his personal tax status and called the Referee’s Report “inadequate.” Not only did the Court find the Referee came to “only the most basic conclusions from the summarized testimony, and oftentimes has failed to make any findings regarding undisputed evidence in the case,” but noted the findings of fact were only four pages of the 71-page report. “It is inconceivable that the facts of such a complicated case, which has taken years to litigate and the record of which spans thousands of pages, could be reduced to four pages.” The Court ultimately found that Alters misappropriated client funds and “must be disbarred.”

    The Bar’s auditor testified at the final hearing before the Referee that in addition to funds slid straight to Alters, he used trust fund money to cover firm expenses and overdrafts and personal expenses. Among those personal expenses: Miami Heat tickets.


  • Orlando’s Elizabeth Anderson, a Stetson Law School graduate admitted in 2003, Stetson, has been suspended since Nov. 7 for trust account shortages of $160,000, most of which were in two accounts.
    A bar audit found a shortage of $37,000 in the trust account at Seaside Bank that The Anderson Law Group used for matters involving Stoneybrook West Master Association.
    “During her sworn statement on August 1, 2018, respondent admitted to the shortage in her Seaside trust account and stated that she would not have been able to pay the balances she owed to Stoneybrook without obtaining either the loan from her parents or using funds from her retirement account.” The Bar’s audit also revealed that there was a shortage of at least $122,330.62 in another trust account at Fairwinds Credit Union. From this account, the Bar says in its Petition for Emergency Suspension, she used settlement funds for a client to office rent, rent, herself, American Express, and Florida Lawyers Mutual.