TALLAHASSEE — Imprisoned Punta Gorda attorney Steven Paul Burch has been permanently disbarred after a heroin trafficking conviction in what the U.S. Department of Justice called an "ill-fated drug informant scheme," according to a recent announcement by the Florida Bar.
"Burch abandoned his law practice after being arrested and detained until trial for violating the conditions of his pretrial release in a federal criminal case," the state bar said in its Jan. 31 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.
Burch, 43, admitted in his permanent disbarment on consent to the state bar’s allegations. In its two-page order, the high court approved the uncontested referee's report before disbarring Burch and ordered him to pay almost $1,521 in costs.
Burch, was admitted to the bar in Florida on Dec. 4, 2008, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Burch's state bar profile.
Steven Paul Burch in 2016 mugshot
Burch's heroin trafficking conviction stemmed from August 2015 DUI arrest in Sarasota County, according to court and DOJ documents. Burch allegedly sought to reduce his charges with a scheme to send packages of illegal drugs through the mail that he could then report law enforcement to simulate cooperation.
Burch and his alleged scheme got caught up in an FBI investigation and in March 2016 he was indicted by a grand jury on a single-count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin. Despite the indictment, Burch remained, for a time, eligible to practice law.
Last May, Burch was booked into Pinellas County Jail for violating pretrial release conditions. The following month, the state bar learned Burch was in jail and in July he was indefinitely suspended.
In August, Burch entered his guilty plea in U.S. District Court for Florida's Middle, according a DOJ press release issued that month.
"In his plea agreement, Burch has agreed to forfeit his license to practice law, which was used to facilitate the offense," the DOJ press release said.
In October, Burch was sentenced to 30 months in prison, according to an Oct. 24 DOJ press release.
Burch currently is held at the minimum security federal prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, according to an online federal inmate search. His release date is scheduled Aug. 1, 2020.