TALLAHASSEE — Longtime Daytona Beach attorney Diego Handel has been suspended until he produces his trust account records following a Florida Supreme Court order, according to a recent announcement by the Florida Bar.
"Handel was found in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena issued by The Florida Bar for production of his law office trust account records," the state bar said in its Jan. 31 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "The records were needed to complete a compliance audit of his trust account following an insufficient funds notice from the bank."
Handel's suspension was effective 30 days from the date of the December court order to allow him time to close out his practice and protect his existing clients' interests, according to the Supreme Court's two-page order.
The court also ordered Handel to pay $1,250 in costs.
Florida court orders are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires. Filing such a motion does not alter the effective date of Handel 's suspension.
Handel was admitted to the bar in Florida on Jan. 23, 1984, according to his profile at the state bar website.
Handel asked for—and got—several time extensions to produce the records, claiming he was "tied up" in a federal criminal appeal, needed to travel to California for a client’s motion , was having “computer issues” and other reasons, the state bar’s petition for contempt and order to show cause said.
Following the assignment of an investigator, a grievance committee found Handel in contempt and the state bar filed its petition.
Handel’s suspension is his second discipline in Florida over issues with his trust account in about eight years. In a previous discipline, Handel was publicly reprimanded and he was placed on a year of probation following a December 2010 Supreme Court order. That discipline was handed down after Handel overdrew his legal trust account, according to the consent judgment filed with the court at the time.
The consent judgment also includes Handel's conditional guilty plea.
A state bar investigation found the overdraw had been caused by inadequate record keeping, that there had been misappropriation, no client filed a complaint and no money was missing. Handel was ordered to pay $3,016 in costs.