Florida Record

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Fort Lauderdale attorney disbarred after grand theft auto guilty plea

By Karen Kidd | Jul 31, 2017

Fort Lauderdale attorney Joseph Cichowski has been disbarred following a May 11 Florida Supreme Court order after being found guilty of grand theft auto.

The supreme court's order of disciplinary revocation, tantamount to disbarment, was effective immediately and handed down with leave to seek readmission after five years. The Florida State Bar announced the discipline and the court's order June 29.

Cichowski also was ordered to pay the state bar's costs of $1,812.21.

Cichowski originally was charged with obtaining property in return for a worthless check, which was amended to add the auto theft charge, according to the state bar's petition for disciplinary revocation filed with the state supreme court. Cichowski later entered a guilty please to the auto theft charge, a third-degree felony, and the worthless check charge was dismissed.

Following his guilty plea, the supreme court issued an order Dec. 21, suspending Cichowski until further order, according to a state bar announcement Jan. 31.

Cichowski was admitted to the bar in Florida on April 7, 2000, according to his profile at the state bar website. Cichowski's disbarment was not the first discipline he received from the state bar. In March 2006, Cichowski was admonished for minor misconduct involving a business transaction with a client, according to the petition.

In February 2008, he was admonished for allowing a person who was not an attorney to sign pleadings. That admonishment stemmed from a July 2007 hearing in Broward County 17th Judicial Circuit Court when Cichowski filed a motion to stay proceedings. During that hearing, Cichowski admitted his paralegal had signed the motion to stay, according to the report of minor misconduct filed at the time.

He was again admonished in December 2009 for a shortage in his trust account caused by faulty bookkeeping, regular commingling and failing to comply with mandatory trust account requirements. In this admonishment, Cichowski was ordered to attend the Florida State Bar's Accounting workshop and also was referred to the Law Office Management Advisory Service for the alleged trust account violations, paying all expenses incurred, according to the report of minor misconduct filed at the time.

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