Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorney Mark Stopa Fighting Desperate Battle To Keep His Bar License
Stopa is now fighting for his legal career for the second time in three years. This time he could find himself permanently disbarred.
Attorney Mark Stopa was once the darling of the foreclosure activist movement but soon became infamous for his boorish and obnoxious behavior in court.
In 2016, the Florida Bar claimed Stopa ripped off and misled two foreclosure clients. Now, the Florida Bar is claiming Stopa violated at least a half dozen rules of professional conduct and is seeking to have him permanently disbarred.
Pinellas County Circuit Judge Linda Allan has already agreed that the Bar has proved five of the six misconduct counts against Stopa.
Attorney Mark Stopa Allegedly Sells Out Client
Stopa asserts on his law firm website that he has represented hundreds of people facing bankruptcy or foreclosure. Rosalie Coyne was one of those clients. Coyne hired Stopa in 2013 to work out a modification with Wells Fargo and keep her in her St. Petersburg house.
Rosalie Coyne paid Stopa $1,575 for the first year of representation. Stopa allegedly never met her, spoke with her or attempted to negotiate a modification.
Coyne gave Stopa a total of $1,650 in post-dated checks for 2014. She stopped payment on the final two checks because:
The Florida Bar alleges Stopa and an associate worked out a settlement with Wells Fargo without notifying Coyne. A deal that included a cash-for-keys payment of $1,500.
Stopa’s associate allegedly told lawyers for Wells Fargo to send the payment to Stopa’s firm, not to Coyne. Stopa falsely claimed to opposing counsel that Coyne couldn’t sign the settlement paperwork but had agreed to the terms, the complaint says.
Rosalie Coyne’s case went to trial. Wells Fargo’s attorney apparently informed the judge that the parties had reached an agreement.
Coyne discovered that Stopa had settled her case without her authorization. She also learned that she only had 60 days to vacate her home.
Rosalie Coyne immediately fired Stopa. She notified Wells Fargo and the court that she rejected the agreement. Coyne then negotiated a modification on her own that has since kept her in the house.
The Florida Bar alleges that:
Attorney Mark Stopa Allegedly Pressured Homeowner To Take Cash For Keys Deal
Maria Said almost lost her house because Mark Stopa didn’t tell her that Bank of America approved her for a modification. Stopa instead pressured her into accepting cash for keys. He misinformed her the bank had offered $11,000. Bank of America had actually offered $15,000. The Florida Bar alleges Stopa wanted to keep $4,000 for his fees.
Maria Said learned about the BofA modification offer after the house was set to go to auction. Said soon removed Stopa from the case. Said go the sale canceled and she negotiated a modification on her own.
Pissed Off Judges And Attorneys Line Up To Take Out Attorney Mark Stopa
Attorney Mark Stopa has pissed off a lot of attorneys and judges with his boorish behavior in the past five years. Stopa’s issues with the bar have given them an opportunity for payback.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge E. Lamar Battles told the court Stopa once tried to have him disqualified from hearing a case because the judge allegedly was biased against Hispanics.
Battles told the court his wife is “of Spanish descent (and) between 55 and 60.”
Battles added that Stopa is rude:
Bank lawyer Victor Veschio testified he was sitting on a bench in a court reception area once when Stopa began yelling at him and then approached him:
The court also heard from Sarasota Judge Nancy Kane Donnellan. Donnellan had Stopa removed from her courtroom because of his John McEnroe style tantrums.
Manatee County Judge Thomas Gallen recalled how Stopa had to be forcibly escorted out of his courtroom because of “his statements impugning (Gallen’s) character and loud outbursts towards individuals in the courtroom.”
The judge later recused himself from hearing any of Stopa’s cases.
Attorney Mark Stopa Claims He’s A Victim Of A Bank Industry Conspiracy
It amazes me that when people get busted they immediately point the finger at others. Attorney Mark Stopa is no different. He immediately pulled the “banker conspiracy” card like convicted fraudster attorney Carol Asbury.
Stopa told the Tampa Bay Times:
I think that the banks want to be able to take me out because I’ve lost them millions of dollars. I am proud to have worked tirelessly to help such people throughout the most difficult times in their lives when so few others are willing to do so.
When the Florida Bar began investigating Stopa over Coyne’s claims in 2016, he accused the Tampa Bay Times of trying to “sully” his reputation:
Attorney Mark Stopa is also trying to deflect attention from the claims he misleads clients. In addition to Coyne and Said, there are two other clients he is accused of misleading. These four cases make up 5 of the 6 counts of unprofessional behavior against him.
Stopa posted a message on his Facebook page last week claiming there was a conspiracy against him and asked clients and blog followers attend yesterday’s hearing. 30 people came to speak in Stopa’s defense.