TALLAHASSEE — Port Jefferson Station, New York, attorney Brian Christopher Morris has been suspended following a May 5 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations he misappropriated client funds and numerous complaints received by the Florida Bar.
Morris had been practicing in Florida since 2011.
"The Florida Bar received nine complaints alleging that respondent failed to maintain adequate client communication, neglected cases, lacked competence, failed to pay filing fees, failed to earn his fees, failed to provide accountings of client funds and failed to return costs deposits," the bar's petition for emergency suspension filed with the state Supreme Court said. "Further, the complaints also included an allegation of respondent's mismanagement of fees held in trust and insufficient funds in his business account."
A state bar audit found Morris had commingled and misappropriated client trust funds for his own benefit during little more than a year.
The state bar announced the discipline and the Supreme Court's order June 29.
Morris was admitted to the bar in Florida on March 25, 2011, according to his profile on the state bar website. He received a public reprimand from the Supreme Court in February for failing to comply with a subpoena for trust accounting records.
Acting on the complaints, a state bar grievance committee subpoenaed a compliance audit of Morris' trust account for Sept. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016, and found shortages ranging from $2,111.78 to $9,376.25. The shortages were caused by Morris' "numerous online transfers" to his operating and personal accounts "unrelated to any client matters," the petition said.
In a sworn statement in April, Morris admitted to making online transfers from his trust account, causing the shortages, and that he'd used client funds for personal and business expenses, the petition said.
Some of the transfers were used to cover overdrafts in Morris' personal checking account, ATM withdrawals and to pay for business and personal expenses, including his mortgage and a family vacation. In June 2016, Morris used trust funds to pay two employees.
"There were numerous entries in the receipts and disbursement journal that did not identify the client or the reason for the transaction as required," the petition said.