Florida Record

Sunday, September 22, 2019

State bar alleges disbarred Sarasota attorney owes $95,000 to two clients

By Karen Kidd | Aug 20, 2017

Sarasota attorney William Robert Cohen has been disbarred following a June 22 Florida Supreme Court order over disciplinary matters pending against him, alleging trust fund shortages and commingling of funds, according to a recent Florida State Bar report.

Cohen's disbarment was effective retroactively to Sept. 22, 2016, when he was suspended in a previous state high court order, according to the state bar's petition for disciplinary revocation. The state bar alleges Cohen owes one client $60,000 and another client $35,000 as part of four counts of trust account shortages, misappropriation of trust account monies, commingling and record keeping violations, according to the petition.

The state court issued its order of disciplinary revocation, tantamount to disbarment, with leave to seek readmission after five years. The state bar announced the discipline and the court's order July 31.

In Florida, court orders are not final until after time to file a rehearing motion expires. Attorneys disbarred in the state may not reapply for admission for five years and then they must pass through an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.

Cohen was admitted to the bar in Florida on Oct. 27, 1997, according to his profile at the state bar website.

Cohen had been disciplined once before, according to information in his profile. In 2010, he was admonished after he admitted to minor misconduct stemming from discipline he received from the Michigan State Bar. 

In that case, Cohen admitted to failing to adequately communicate with a client, practicing law while suspended for nonpayment of bar dues and failing to withdraw as counsel. The stipulation in that case provided for a reprimand with restitution, paying fees, and conditions, attending an upcoming workshop, providing quarterly reports for 18 months and outlining the physical health and state of his practice.

Cohen was suspended by state supreme court order in August 2016 for failing to respond to a state bar show cause order as part of an official state bar inquiry. That state court decision also ordered Cohen to pay the state bar's costs of $1,250.

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