TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Suspended Windermere attorney Dennis L. Horton has been disbarred following an Aug. 29 Florida Supreme Court opinion over trust fund irregularities and other allegations, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Horton was found to have taken improper loans from his clients and commingled trust funds in his operating account that had excessive overdrafts," the state bar said in its Sept. 26 announcement of the discipline and the court's opinion. "As a result, trust funds were used for purposes other than those for which they were intended."
In its 17-page unanimous opinion, the state Supreme Court approved a referee's finding of fact in the matter, along with recommendations about guilt and findings in aggravation and mitigation, but rejected the referee's recommendation that Horton be suspended for 24 months.
"In light of the seriousness of his misconduct, respondent Dennis L. Horton is hereby disbarred," the opinion said. "Because Horton is currently suspended the disbarment is effective immediately."
Horton filed a motion for rehearing about two weeks after the court's opinion "solely" to correct errors in "three areas of concern." Those areas included assertions that Horton waived his constitutional claims and for a reversal of the referee's finding that he was "contrite and generally remorseful," according to Horton's motion.
Horton's motion also referred to a "lack of clarity" in the Supreme Court's opinion "that, while Mr. Horton may have mishandled client funds, there is no finding and no evidence that he converted or misappropriated the same."
Horton's motion asked the court to clarify that no money had been taken "that were proved were not earned and owed to him" in representing two clients.
"The court's opinion reads like Mr. Horton stole a whole bunch of money from elderly clients, " the motion said. "That is not true. At the very least, that impression must be clarified, as there is insufficient evidence and no finding to support that impression. "
Horton was admitted to the bar in Florida on Dec. 20, 1974, according to his profile at the state bar website.
Horton, who formerly practiced in Clermont, was placed on emergency suspension following a May 2017 Supreme Court order for allegations of financial irregularities involving elderly clients and using trust funds to cover operating account overdrafts.