Miami attorney suspended following conviction on SEC charges in StratoComm attorney letters fraud

By Karen Kidd | Apr 2, 2018

TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Miami attorney Stewart Alan Merkin, practicing in Florida for about 45 years, has been suspended following a Aug. 24 Florida Supreme  Court after his conviction on U.S. Security And Exchange Commission allegations that he violated federal securities laws, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"Merkin was charged in court with violating federal securities laws," the state bar said in its March 27 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "During an investigation, and as counsel, he knowingly made false statements about the status of a company he was representing. Merkin stated the company was not under investigation."

Merkin's suspension, until further order, was effective 30 days from the date of the Supreme Court's order to allow him time to close out his practice and protect the interests of his existing clients, according to the order.

The state Supreme Court's two-page order is not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion would not alter the effective date of the Merkin's suspension. Merkin was admitted to the Florida bar Nov. 14, 1972, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Merkin's state bar profile.

In July 2013 a federal judge in South Florida signed final judgment against Merkin over SEC allegations of securities law violations in a civil action filed in October 2011, according to a litigation release issued by the SEC at the time. Merkin was alleged to have written attorney letters for the penny stock company StratoComm that didn't mention StratoComm was the subject of an SEC investigation.

The federal judge in Florida granted an SEC motion for summary judgment with respect to liability, finding that Merkin made false statements of material fact connection with the purchase or sale of securities, according to the litigation release. Merkin consented to the judgment that ordered him to pay $125,000 in disgorgement, prejudgment interest and a civil penalty and permanently barred him from participating in a penny stock offering, according to the litigation release.

In January 2016, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment.

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Florida Supreme Court The Florida Bar U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

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