Florida Record

Friday, August 23, 2019

New Port Richey attorney on emergency suspension for allegedly misappropriating more than $82,000

Discipline

By Karen Kidd | Apr 1, 2019


TALLAHASSEE — New Port Richey attorney Hugh Charles Umsted has been placed on emergency suspension following a March 21 Florida Supreme Court order over misappropriation allegations, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"Umsted appears to be causing great public harm based upon his misappropriation of at least $82,647 in client funds," the state bar said in its March 29 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order.

In its four-page order, the high court approved the state bar's petition for emergency suspension before indefinitely suspending Umsted. The court gave Umsted 30 days to wind down his practice but to accept no new clients or do any legal work in that time, in addition to other conditions.  

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 Umsted's suspension.

Umsted was admitted to the bar in Florida on Oct. 2, 1991, according to his profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Umsted's state bar profile.

In its seven-page petition for emergency suspension, to which almost 600 pages of exhibits and other documentation was attached, the state bar alleged it found evidence of misappropriation during its investigation that began last fall.

Between October 2015 and May 2017, Umsted allegedly transferred more than $82,700 from his trust account and into another account, with a ledger entry indicating the money was for fees, according to the petition. Umsted also disbursed two checks totaling $4,000 from the trust account to the client's personal representative, with a ledger notation that about $200 was for the client's costs.

In September 2018, while acting on a court order to transfer all of the client's savings bond proceeds into another account, Umsted allegedly cobbled together enough funds to obtain a cashier's check that covered the total amount due, according to the petition.

Umstead "misappropriated and utilized $82,647.01 of other clients' funds from the trust account to obtain the cashier's check," the petition said. "The respondent made numerous misrepresentations to the probate court, both orally and in filed pleadings, and to The Florida Bar regarding the status of the funds being held in his trust account for this matter."

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