TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — West Palm Beach attorney Brett A. Elam has been placed under emergency suspension following a Feb, 6 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations of misappropriation, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Elam appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating more than $34,000 in client trust funds," the state bar said in its March 27 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "He also violated multiple court orders and made misrepresentations to a creditor and a bankruptcy court."
The state bar's announcement cited the petition for emergency suspension filed with the court. Elam's emergency suspension was effective 30 days from the date of the Supreme Court's three-page order, according to the state bar's announcement.
In Florida, court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion would not alter the effective date of the Elam's suspension.
Elam was admitted to the bar in Florida on Sept. 25, 2002, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Elam's state bar profile.
In its 346-page petition for emergency suspension, the state bar said Elam "produced some, but not all" of documents required until a trust account subpoena served in November. That subpoena was for records covering an audit period of Jan. 1, 2017, through the end of last October, according to the petition.
After retrieving documents from the bank where the trust account is maintained, state bar officials found enough evidence to allege Elam was not in compliance with trust accounting rules, according to the petition.
From March 20-Aug. 3, 2017, 27 transfers totaling more than $54,210 were made from Elam's trust account to his operating account and an audit determined that the funds transferred should not have been disbursed, according to the petition.
Elam allegedly misappropriated $34,400 in funds from an estate "for his personal benefit by not maintaining those funds in the trust account until approval to disburse those funds was received from the bankruptcy court," the petition said.