Florida Record

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Melbourne attorney faces voluntary disbarment after drug, bribery convictions


By Karen Kidd | Dec 3, 2019


TALLAHASSEE (Florida Record) — Melbourne attorney John Michael Toppa III faces voluntary disbarment following a Nov. 21 Florida Supreme Court order and his felony drug arrests, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.

"After two separate arrests, Toppa was adjudicated guilty on the felony offenses of purchase of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, bribery and accepting unlawful compensation," the state bar said in its Nov. 26 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "He was also adjudicated guilty on the misdemeanor offense of possession of drug paraphernalia."

In its two-page order, the Supreme Court approved Toppa's uncontested petition for disciplinary revocation, tantamount to disbarment, with leave to seek readmission after five years. Granting the petition served to dismiss all pending disciplinary charges against Toppa. The court also ordered him to pay a little more than $2,322 in costs.

Toppa's disbarment was effective 30 days from the date of the court's order to allow him time to close his practice and protect his existing clients' interests, according to the high court's order. 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 Toppa's disbarment.

Toppa was admitted to the bar in Florida on Sept. 26, 2013, according to his profile at the state bar website. He had no prior history of discipline, according to his petition.

In March 2017, Toppa, then 29 and an assistant state attorney, was arrested by Brevard County Sheriff's deputies for allegedly for purchasing illegal narcotics.

The following January, a Brevard County Circuit Court judge issued a warrant for Toppa's arrest on charges of bribery and unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior. That warrant was issued for offenses that allegedly occurred between Feb. 1, 2016, and May 6, 2016, according to the warrant.

In September, Toppa was adjudicated guilty on the felony purchasing a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia in a Brevard court, according to his petition. He also was adjudicated guilty on the bribery and accepting unlawful compensation charges, according to his petition.

Toppa was sentenced to 46 months in prison, to be followed by two years' probation, according to his petition.

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Organizations in this Story

The Florida BarFlorida Supreme Court18th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida - Brevard CountyBrevard County Sheriff's Office