TAMPA, Florida — One of Florida’s most popular foreclosure defense
lawyers has received another complaint from the Florida Bar.
Mark Stopa became a well-known attorney-expert following the
housing crash due to his experience in foreclosure legalities.
Stopa also garnered attention after offering to give a free
house to a needy family in a contest.
However, the Florida Bar has not been enamored with him. This
is the second complaint against Stopa since 2013.
In this instance the claim is that two of his clients nearly lost
Media reports indicate that Stopa was hired by Rosalie Coyne in
2013 to work out a deal for loan modification with Wells Fargo regarding her
home in St. Petersburg. As part of that working relationship, Coyne claims she
gave him three checks, one for $1,575 and two more equal to $1,650. She
ended up stopping payment on these final two checks. Meanwhile, Stopa and an
associate allegedly had worked out a cash-for-keys payment of $1,500 with Wells
Fargo. Stopa claimed that Coyne had agreed to the deal but was not able to sign
paperwork. It wasn’t until Feb. 13, 2015, when the case went to trial, that Wells
Fargo’s lawyer told the judge about the agreement.
In the second instance, the Florida Bar claims Stopa failed
to tell his client, Maria Said, that she had been approved for a trial loan
Said claims that Stopa did
not tell her the Bank of America approved her for a trial loan modification
plan. Instead, she said, he encouraged her to accept a cash for keys deal and
claimed the bank had only offered $11,000. They had reportedly offered $15,000, but the Bar
alleges Stopa was going to keep $4,000 for his fees. The house was set for a foreclosure
auction when Said learned about this; she canceled the sale and negotiated on
her own, reports say.
The Bar claims that Stopa was also thrown out of Judge Nancy
Kane Donellan’s courtroom in Sarasota a couple of years ago due to
inappropriate behavior. The accusations were that Stopa was lecturing the
judge and other counsel on procedure, argued with the judge, turned his back on
the judge and also threw his arms up when she ruled in a way that he didn’t
Stopa was also reportedly removed from Judge Thomas Gallen’s
courtroom in Manatee. He was accused of questioning the judge’s character and
having loud outbursts at others in the room.
“The Florida Bar is charged with administering a statewide
disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for
its more than 103,000 members,” the director of public information for the
organization, Francine Walker, told the Florida Record in an email.
While she declined to speak about
Stopa directly, Walker said it was the organization’s responsibility to see
that lawyers abided by the rules of the Bar.
“The Florida Bar investigates
complaints against attorneys and prosecutes attorneys who engage in unethical
conduct as per the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar,” Walker stated.
“The investigation process provides
multiple contacts with the complainant and with the lawyer, and due process is
provided throughout the case.”
She also said that the Bar published information for the public on its
procedure for filing a complaint on its website.
In a formal response to the Bar, Stopa denied the
allegations, however he did not respond to requests for comment from the Record.
The Bar filed a previous complaint against Stopa in