By Karen Kidd | Jul 2, 2018

TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Plantation attorney Stuart Jared Starr, practicing in Florida for almost a half-century, has been suspended for 90 days following a May 24 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations stemming from a loan modification matter, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"Starr was hired to handle a loan modification matter," the state bar said in its June 29 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "After requiring the client to pay a nonrefundable retainer fee, Starr failed to complete the task. He transferred funds out of the client's bank account without permission and he never submitted the loan modification to the mortgage lender."

Starr's suspension was effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow him time to close out his practice and protect his existing clients' interests, according to the high court's two-page order. Starr also was ordered to pay almost $4,080 in costs.

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 Starr's suspension.

Starr was admitted to the bar in Florida on Dec. 11, 1970, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Starr's state bar profile.

In its formal complaint against Starr, the state bar alleged Starr is not exempt from requirements under the Federal Trade Commission's Federal Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, which had been in effect about two years when Starr agreed in June 2013 to represent a client about a Tampa real estate. The complaint alleges, among other things, that Starr violated the rule's requirements for attorneys when charging upfront fees.

Starr never obtained a mortgage loan modification for his client, and in June 2014 he admitted his firm never submitted a complete mortgage loan modification loss mitigation to the client's mortgage lender, according to the complaint. The property was subsequently foreclosed, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleged Starr violated professional conduct rules, including those that require an attorney to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions and to not enter into an agreement for prohibited or clearly excessive fees.

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