Clearwater attorney agrees to disbarment following grand theft guilty plea

By Karen Kidd | Nov 9, 2017

Clearwater attorney John Arthur Smitten, currently in Pinellas County Jail following his guilty plea on a charge he had stolen more than $100,000 from an area law firm, has agreed to his disbarment following a Sept. 14 Florida Supreme Court order.

Smitten's disbarment was dated 30 days from the supreme court's two-page order, which also directed him to pay almost $5,513 in costs. Smitten was sentenced in August after he pleaded guilty the same month in the Sixth Judicial Circuit court to first degree felony grand theft of more than $100,000.

Smitten, who will turn 48 on Nov. 8, had a prior record of DUI, according to his sentencing documentation. 

Prior to his arrest in February, Smitten admitted to his former employer, McGuire Law Offices in Clearwater, that he owed $500,000 that he had taken while employed there, funds he'd deposited into his personal bank accounts and that he agreed to pay back, according to his consent to disbarment. At the time of his arrest, Smitten had provided the law firm with at least 65 checks and money orders totaling $1,410 toward paying back what he'd stolen, according to his consent to disbarment. He has since paid "full restitution" to the firm of $131,500, according to his consent.

Smitten admitted he began stealing funds from the law firm in 2006, according to the state bar's formal complaint. Smitten's admission triggered a review of his personal bank accounts by the state bar, which turned up at least 136 improper deposits totaling at least $88,696 between March 24, 2011, and July 16, 2014.

The Florida Bar filed its formal complaint against Smitten in July and announced his disbarment by consent on Oct. 30.

Smitten was admitted to the bar in Florida on Feb. 24, 1997, according to his profile at the state bar website. Smitten had no other disciplines before the state bar, according to his profile and the referee's report accepting his consent to disbarment.

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