Well, this week, anyway. Disbarred Miami Shores attorney Marie G. Estime-Thompson, who is the subject of this lovely Action Line column today:
Q:On April 27, 2006, I agreed to purchase from a loan broker, First Loan Solution of North Miami Beach, two acres of land supposedly located in Madison County [one county east of Tallahassee, on the Georgia line] for $22,000.According to this profile, for the Dade Community Foundation's Miami Fellows Initiative, Ms. Estime-Thompson is active in the Haitian Lawyers Association and is involved in numerous charitable endeavors focusing on the Haitian community. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Lambi Fund of Haiti. In 2004, the Florida Association of Women Lawyers honored Ms. Estime-Thompson (along with Judy Korchin and Judge Seitz) for their community efforts.
That day, I made a down payment of $11,000. Two days later, I decided to buy an additional Madison acre for $11,000 and made a down payment of $6,000.
The remaining balances were paid at the closings with a first check of $11,500 and a second of $5,250. Both checks were dated Nov. 6, 2006, and made out to the Estime-Thompson law firm in North Miami.
Still, no deed has been delivered to me.
Despite all my efforts, I have never been able to talk with Daniel Stephen, the First Loan Solution broker, who is also the company's owner. He has never responded to my e-mails, either.
After a year of this, I went to Mr. Stephen's office April 11 and cancelled the contract. He signed a statement that my refund would be available no later than 30 to 45 days from that date.
I still have no refund. Can Action Line get my money back?When you first contacted us in July, we called the state Attorney General's office. It said it had no jurisdiction and referred us to the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees land sales.
You filed a complaint there, and we contacted Mr. Stephen, the supposed broker, and Marie Estime-Thompson, the lawyer whose firm received your final payments. Stephen promised the DBPR that your refund would arrive in October. Estime-Thompson wasn't certain of her title company's role in the matter and said she would check her records.
We asked the DBPR why these would be considered acceptable responses. Its spokesmen couldn't confirm or deny the existence of the case (thank you, state law)! They did concede, however, that the agency doesn't have much enforcement power (your tax dollars at work).
By Nov. 1, First Loan Solution's website had evaporated, its voice mailbox had filled up and its corporate registration with the state had become inactive. In addition, the Florida Bar had begun investigating several complaints against Estime-Thompson similar to yours. On Oct. 18, she had been disbarred from practicing law on consent -- meaning she asked the Bar to disbar her. Her wish was granted, which meant that the Bar's investigation stopped in its tracks.
Seems to be a disconnect here. Anyone know more about this story?