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 their homes.
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 modification
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 want.
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 2013.