Florida Record

Monday, September 23, 2019

Land O’ Lakes attorney suspended over allegations poor bookkeeping lead to trust fund shortages

By Karen Kidd | Sep 23, 2017

Land O’ Lakes attorney J. Manuel Neyra has been suspended for two years and placed on three years' probation following a Aug. 10 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations that poor bookkeeping lead to shortages in his trust account.

A Florida State Bar audit found shortages in Neyra's trust account were the result to poor maintenance, according to a state bar announcement Thursday, Aug. 31, of the state Supreme Court's order and the discipline.

"Due to his poor bookkeeping, there were instances in which Neyra did not timely disburse settlement funds to clients or third parties," the state bar's announcement said. "He also made disbursements against client funds before the client’s funds were deposited into his trust account."

Neyra's suspension will be effective 30 days from the state Supreme Court's order. The state high court also ordered Neyra to pay the state bar's costs of $4,658.

In Florida court orders are not final until after time to file a rehearing motion expires.

Neyra was admitted to the Florida bar on April 14, 1999, according to his profile at the state bar website. Neyra has had no other discipline before the state bar for at least 10 years, according to his profile.

Neyra waived his right to a probable cause hearing before a state bar grievance committee, according to his conditional guilty plea entered prior to the Supreme Court's order. Neyra is a sole practitioner, “inexperienced in handling the administrative and bookkeeping responsibilities of a solo practice,” the conditional guilty plea said.

The state bar's investigation was sparked by a May 18, 2015, overdraft notice from the bank where the trust account is located, It reported that a check for $3,000 had been  presented against an available balance of $2,594.03, according to the conditional guilty plea. Neyra reportedly explained that the overdraft resulted from a two-day hold, about which he'd been unaware, that had been placed on two settlement checks, according to the conditional guilty plea

The state bar's subsequent audit found negative balances in the firm ledger ranging from -$460.71 in September 2011 to -$102,461.75 in February 2013, according to the conditional guilty plea.

The shortages were resolved and removed effective May 2016, according to the conditional guilty plea.

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