Fort Lauderdale attorney Allen Michael Migdall, accused of taking part in a fraudulent scheme to defraud investors of millions of dollars, is voluntarily giving up practicing law — at least for a few years — so he won't have to talk about a client who pleaded guilty to being part of the alleged plot, Migdall's lawyer said Tuesday.
Without admitting guilt, Migdall, 65, agreed to have his law license suspended by the Florida Supreme Court after he was found in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena and not responding to a Florida Bar inquiry, said his lawyer Fred Haddad. The agreement allows Migdall to apply for readmission to the bar in 2016.
"We totally rejected" the Florida Bar's demands that Migdall disclose information and turn over documents, about a client, James Massaro, 70, of Boxford, Mass., Haddad said.
Massaro last year pleaded guilty in Virginia to defrauding at least 20 victims of more than $6.9 million in a foreign investment scheme and is now serving 87 months in prison. He was accused of forging commitment letters from European banks to lure investors into giving an advance fee "to secure a multi-million-dollar letter of credit," according to federal attorneys who prosecuted Massaro.
Migdall, as an escrow agent and attorney for Massaro's firm, Tracten Corp., was supposed to provide "authentic letters of credit" to investors. But Massaro faked the letters, court documents alleged.
The Florida Bar accused Migdall of profiting from the scam. A pair of investors who lost money said Migdall diverted funds sent to him for the bogus investments: $125,000 ended up in an account held by a company that Migdall owned, according to the Florida Bar complaint.
Migdall "has produced no documentation to substantiate the amount of fees he took," a spokesperson from the Florida Bar said, adding that he "misappropriated such funds to his own use."
Migdall was also accused of using without permission $25,000 of investors' money to pay two consultants whose fees were part of the alleged fraud, according to the Florida Bar.
In other action, the Florida Supreme Court disbarred a Plantation attorney, George Granville Lewis, after he was found in contempt for not notifying all his clients of his May 2012 suspension. Lewis had gotten into trouble earlier for "taking legal fees and providing no meaningful legal work," according to Florida Bar records.
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