TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Suspended Jacksonville attorney Christoper Michael Ochoa, after less than seven years in practice, has been disbarred following a May 3 Florida Supreme Court order regarding trust account irregularities, perjury and other allegations, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Further, Ochoa shall pay restitution of $1.25 million to an asset management company in California," the state bar said in its June 29 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "He violated bar rules regulating trust accounts and disbursed funds as a client instructed without regard to potential consequences. He also knowingly wrote a perjured letter at the request of another attorney."
In its two-page order, the high court approved the referee's report filed in the matter, which recommended disbarment, before disbarring Ochoa and ordered him to pay the restitution and a little more than $4,817 in costs. Ochoa was already suspended, which meant his disbarment was effective immediately.
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 Ochoa's disbarment.
Attorneys disbarred in the state generally cannot reapply for admission for five years and then must pass through an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.
Ochoa was admitted to the bar in Florida on Oct. 20, 2011, according to his profile at the state bar website. Previous disciplines listed on his profile include two public reprimands, one in October 2015 and the other this past February. In the latter, the state Supreme Court handed down its reprimand after Ochoa allegedly failed to comply with a subpoena and did not respond to official state bar inquiries.
Ochoa was indefinitely suspended in September 2017 over the $1.25 million allegedly transferred into his client trust account for a business deal that he failed to return upon request. Those allegations arose from a failed business arrangement that began in May of last year when a registered Wyoming asset management company operating out of Los Angeles transferred the $1.25 million into Ochoa's trust account as part of financing for the company's projects.
The company requested the money be returned in July but the funds have never been returned, according to various court documents.