TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Hollywood attorney Randall Lawrence Gilbert has been disbarred following a March 22 Florida Supreme Court opinion over allegations concerning his firm's trust account and a non-attorney employee, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Gilbert failed to properly supervise the firm’s trust account and a non-lawyer employee who had a criminal past," the state bar said in its April 30 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's opinion. "Over a four-year period, the employee stole $4.8 million from the trust account. The 190 thefts averaged $100,000 per month, and went unquestioned by Gilbert."
Gilbert's disbarment was effective immediately, according to the state Supreme Court's 18-page opinion.
By the end of March 2014, the non-attorney employee "had embezzled nearly $5 million from the firm's trust account" and had "a known history of wire fraud and embezzlement of more than $7 million," said the unsigned high court's opinion.
The non-attorney employee absconded in March 2014, according to a referee's report filed in the matter.
"Whether Gilbert was aware of or personally involved in the theft is not the critical inquiry," the opinion said. "Indeed, this case gives new meaning to the phrase 'turning a blind eye'. Gilbert, as an attorney and fiduciary, was directly responsible for his firm's trust account and for the supervision of employees. As an attorney he owed a duty to the public and to his clients to safeguard their money. Instead, he flouted the system by lying to a federal probation officer and allowing a non-attorney to hold himself out as a law school graduate and a certified public accountant."
Gilbert was admitted to the bar in Florida on Sept. 17, 1999, according to his profile at the state bar website. Gilbert had no history of prior discipline, according to his state bar profile and the Supreme Court's opinion.
A referee in the case had recommended Gilbert be suspended two years, citing mitigating factors including no dishonest or selfish motive, timely good faith effort to make restitution, cooperating with the investigation, interim rehabilitation and remorse.
"On balance, although we do not ignore the mitigation found by the referee, we conclude that it does not outweigh the egregiousness of Gilbert's conduct," the Supreme Court's opinion said.