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A Fort Lauderdale lawyer disappeared. An auditor said he misappropriated $452,000

In World
February 01, 2024

Shortly after a Broward court said a Fort Lauderdale lawyer owed a former client $234,000, a Florida Bar audit said that attorney misappropriated $452,000 from another client’s estate.

John Jenkins, aka “Spencer,” hasn’t disputed the above. That’s part of the problem — he’s gone dark.

Jenkins stopped responding to both those clients and a third. When the Florida Bar inquired about the first two clients, he ghosted that organization, too. He didn’t file paperwork by September to keep Jenkins Law Firm registered as doing business in Florida. His mobile phone number has been disconnected.

He’s been suspended since November until he answers Florida Bar inquiries regarding his abandonment of clients Stealth Supply and Peter Mullins.

John Spencer Jenkins aka “Spencer”

John Spencer Jenkins aka “Spencer”

READ MORE: Jenkins among Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach attorneys suspended, disbarred

Stealth Supply filed a Bar complaint that claimed Jenkins mishandled, then abandoned their case. Mullins sued Jenkins and got a $234,000 judgment plus interest in September. So thoroughly did Jenkins abandon a lawsuit he was handling for Mullins, the suit against Jenkins said, Mullins didn’t know about the judgment against him until a lien had been put on his real estate.

Jenkins’ last communication with any of the three clients, according to documents filed in each case, was on July 7. That’s when he texted with Larry Corbin, the nephew and personal representative of William Waters.

The estate of William Walters

Jenkins handled the will for Walters, a Wilton Manors’ resident, who died on Oct. 18, 2021, at age 89. The will split Walters’ estate between sister Shirley Dennison, Corbin and Walters’ nieces, Cindy Brown and Kelly Jarrell, all from Louisville, Kentucky.

READ MORE: The lawyers and judges from the Florida Keys to Palm Beach honored for pro bono work

“I have not been able to reach Mr. Jenkins since June 7, 2023,” Corbin told the Bar. “My complaint is lack of professional service in a timely manner as well as a lack of communication. I have tried on several occasions to communicate by phone and text.”

When the Bar asked Corbin for correspondence with Jenkins, Corbin replied: “I have included text messages for the last six months. Jenkins would not ever answer the office or cellphone. No messages could be left because the mailbox was always full. I have all texts dating back to October 2021, if needed.”

Bar auditor Carl Totaro put in his report that Corbin saved an April 4 text message detailing the attorney fees and other fees.

Totaro found that a total of $637,813.75 deposits for Walters’ estate came into Jenkins’ trust account, which already had money. But as of Sept. 29, the trust account had only $144,602.82. Jenkins’ operating account had only $15,544.07. Totaro couldn’t find any money sent from the trust account to Walters’ heirs or any third parties representing the heirs.

“The evidence is clear and convincing that Mr. Jenkins misappropriated at least $452,359.88,” Totaro wrote, showing his math as “$637,813.75 net estate deposits minus $25,306.98 Jenkins attorney fees/costs minus $144,602.82 bank balance in the trust account minus $15,544.07 bank balance in the operating account….”

Where did the money go?

“A total of $543,000 in online banking transfers all in even round dollar amounts, from Mr. Jenkins’ trust account to Mr. Jenkins’ operating account, were made during the time period of June 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 that funded the operations of Mr. Jenkins Law Firm and personal expenses…” Totaro wrote.

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