Thursday, February 18, 2021

"Dear..."

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has suspended an attorney reciprocally after the Florida Supreme Court imposed suspension on an emergency basis.

The Orlando Sentinel reported on the Florida bar complaints

Inna Alekseenko was at the doctor’s office when Orlando attorney Justin Infurna called her seven times in a row asking for money.

Ifurna, who was suspended by the Florida Supreme Court last week, never filed the lawsuit in a pattern he’s accused of following with dozens of other clients, the attorney complained of delays whenever Alekseenko asked about her lawsuit and eventually stopped talking to her.

He refused to provide her with a refund and, when she disputed the charges with her credit card company, Infurna claimed he was working on the case, she said. He threatened to sue Alekseenko for defamation after she complained in an online review.

In a Dec. 18 petition requesting his suspension, the Florida Bar accused Infurna of causing “great public harm” by abandoning cases, failing to appear in court and verbally attacking clients, former employees and fellow attorneys since at least January 2017, court records show. The Bar has said it’s receiving calls, emails and complaints about Infurna “almost daily” since filing a Dec. 8 administrative complaint seeking discipline. ]

Infurna did not respond to requests for comment and at least two phone numbers associated with him are not in service.

He did, though, send a Dec. 31 email to the Bar with the greeting “dear assholes” asking for an extension because of “religious and family purposes,” according to records provided by the association.

Here we are again, the [expletive] Florida Bar harassing me [again],” Infurna wrote. “... Have a blessed new year [expletive] heads.”

The Bar submitted 37 complaints to the court against Infurna, including the one by Alekseenko, with the majority involving thousands of dollars. The Bar’s counsel also accused Infurna of misusing its referral service by improperly registering post office boxes, UPS stores, residential condominiums and a pool hall named Shots as his offices across the state.

In one case, a man identified as Mr. Dominguez said he agreed to pay Infurna $7,500 Oct. 20 but, two days later, Infurna demanded an additional $12,500, according to court records. When Dominguez told him to withdraw from his case and asked for a refund, Infurna sent more than 100 emails and text messages telling Dominguez he should pay — even calling him at 1:30 a.m., records show.

Another client said Infurna threatened to sue her and cursed her out on the phone, calling her a “bad Jew” and saying she should “go [expletive] yourself,” said Shirley Coleman, a Bar staff investigator, in an affidavit.

A woman called Ms. Buck who lives in Hawaii hired Infurna for $6,000 in March 2019 to help her with a child custody matter, Coleman said. After he did little on the case, Buck sent him a letter Nov. 7 terminating his representation and asking for a refund.“All your emails will be further ignored,” Infurna texted her, records show. “There will be no refund; I have already spoken to Florida bar ethics hotline; And I am prepared to sue you; Your entire family; And every person you have cced ... So aloha; And goodbye; I hope you find god this weekend.”

The Bar also accused Infurna of verbally abusing his fellow attorneys.

Michelle Bayhi, an attorney who worked as a contractor for Infurna, said in an affidavit he was behind on payroll and gave her a $2000 check in November that bounced. When she sent Infurna a notice that he must pay in 15 days, he sent her threats, Bayhi said.

“Mr. Infurna immediately fired [off] multiple texts ... falsely accusing me of extortion, falsely accusing me of abusing drugs, falsely accusing me of lying to the Bar, threatening to file a [false[ police report, calling me a ‘bitch,’ and most notably, threatening to ‘call DCF on my kids,’” she said. “Mr. Infurna then sent an email to [18] different people falsely claiming that I threatened his life and license.”

Bayhi declined to comment.

Orlando defense attorney Lyle Mazin, who also submitted an affidavit to the Bar, told the Orlando Sentinel he agreed Nov. 23 to represent a client in a cyberstalking case who was represented by Infurna in another case.

“During that evening, I’m getting a million text messages and calls from Justin claiming to be the victim in the case,” Mazin said. “... He wasn’t a victim in the police report but he thought he was.”

Infurna showed up at the Orange County Jail to see the client’s first appearance before a judge and looked “discombobulated,” Mazin said. He was wearing an Electric Daisy Carnival hat and his pants were held together by a safety pin, witnesses said.

When security stopped Infurna from coming in because he couldn’t show them his Bar card, he asked Mazin to tell them he was an attorney.

“I said, ‘To the best of my knowledge, he is an attorney,’” Mazin said. “He freaks out, leaves and goes on social media where he’s accusing me of being in cahoots with the judge. ... He’s calling me a dirty Jew and all this crazy stuff.”

Later, Infurna texted him, “[Expletive] you. I’m [filing] a bar complaint,” records show.

Mazin said the harassment escalated with Infurna calling clients and filming outside a friend’s house. Infurna later apologized, Mazin said.

“I’m not really interested in seeing this guy’s demise,” Mazin said. “I would like to see his recovery. I really don’t know him. I just caught him in the midst of his spiral.”

Alekseenko, who said she’s spoken to more than 50 former Infurna clients who’ve had similar experiences, wants to know why the Bar didn’t act sooner to stop the attorneyBar spokeswoman Francine Walker said the first allegations included in the complaint against Infurna were received Dec. 17, 2018.

“Our procedures are based on the rules of regulation of the Florida Bar,” Walker said, when asked why didn’t suspend Infurna earlier. “We have to follow those procedures and follow due process. We have to be able to prove clear and convincing evidence that there is great public harm.”

Alekseenko said she waited almost a year for the Bar to rule on her case.

“This is my whole battle: Why did it take so long for the Bar, which allowed him to continue this unethical behavior?” she asked. “... More than 50 of us are out of our money. We can’t even move forward with our cases because Justin is holding our files. He’s not doing anything.”

mcordeiro@orlandosentinel.com

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2021/02/inna-alekseenkowas-at-the-doctors-office-when-orlando-attorney-justin-infurna-called-her-seven-times-in-a-row-asking-f.html

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