TALLAHASSEE — Attorney Pamela Bruce Stuart has been suspended by the Florida Supreme Court following an investigation that revealed she used trust account funds for her personal expenses.
The order was signed after an investigation into the attorney’s handling of her father’s trust.
Stuart, a Florida licensed attorney primarily based in Washington, D.C., where she is also licensed, was named as trustee for her father’s trust, from which she loaned money for various expenses, according to court documents released by the Florida Bar. The attorney used the loan to pay a trust payment to a failed real estate venture her father was involved in, and the rest was used to cover her living and medical expenses. Payments from the trust were intended to be disbursed to the attorney for her services, the attorney’s sister and mother, as well as to a trust set up for her mother.
Stuart was required to pay back the loan with 3 percent annual interest but failed to do so in a timely manner, and a judge ruled that she was no longer entitled to the trustee fees outlined in the trust. It was also determined that Stuart had breached her fiduciary duties and misconduct was warranted.
The Florida State Bar took several mitigating factors and one aggravating factor into account prior to sentencing. In mitigation, Stuart was cooperative with the State Bar and remorseful. Additionally, she had suffered “civil penalties” by being forced to forfeit her part of the trust. In aggravation, the State Bar deemed that she had shown a “pattern of misconduct.”
Stuart will serve a one-year suspension and is responsible for the court costs in her matter which at the time of filing totaled $4,363.98. The attorney was admitted to the Florida State Bar in May 1994 and to the D.C. Bar in 1975. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and had no prior record of discipline in either jurisdiction.