TALLAHASSEE – Longtime Fort Lauderdale attorney Frank Joseph Heston was voluntarily disbarred following a recent Florida Supreme Court order ahead of pending charges involving misappropriation of client trust funds, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"At the time of his disciplinary revocation, charges pending against Heston in two bar complaints involved misappropriation of client trust funds," the state bar said in its May 30 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's May 2 order.
The state Supreme Court issued its two-page order of disciplinary revocation, tantamount to disbarment, with leave to seek readmission after five years. The court ordered Heston's disbarment to be effective 60 days from the date of his petition for disciplinary revocation, filed March 19, to allow him time to close out his practice and protect his existing clients' interests.
The court also ordered Heston to pay approximately $4,440 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 Heston's disbarment.
Attorneys disbarred in Florida generally cannot reapply for admission for five years and must pass an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.
Heston, who was 70 years old when he filed his petition for disciplinary revocation, was admitted to the bar in Florida on Dec. 17, 1973, according to his profile on the state bar website.
The charges pending against him stemmed from allegations that he "was not diligent in handling" a probate and a bankruptcy matter, according to Heston's petition
In a previous discipline, Heston was suspended for 20 days in October 2009 over allegations in two client matters. Heston also received public reprimands in October 2002 for failing to provide adequate representation and communication in a client matter and in January 1987 for trust account commingling and poor recordkeeping that resulted in a trust shortage, according to his petition.