South Florida attorney accused of stiffing clients out of money
Andrew Kassier hired by controversial Miami Gardens pastor
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Florida Bar is demanding answers from a South Florida attorney who has been suspended from practicing law in the past.
Aire Lawrence said she hired Coral Gables attorney Andrew Kassier and gave him several thousand dollars to represent her.
Instead, she said, he has done nothing.
Lawrence recently broke into tears after she saw Kassier's picture attached to a recent Miami Times online article.
"I saw the picture of the attorney and I'm like, 'How can he do this?' Like, he's just taking on other cases, and he act like mine didn't matter,'" Lawrence said.
Lawrence said she gave Kassier a total of $2,500 in 2012.
She said Kassier agreed to represent her legally in an adoption.
Lawrence provided Local 10 News with a canceled check, receipts and a signed retainer agreement.
"I did everything that he said I needed to do," she said.
Lawrence has legal guardianship of her goddaughter, Karlicia Darling, but wants to legally adopt her.
Records show that Kassier was on probation with the Florida Bar when he took Lawrence's money and agreed to represent her five years ago.
Lawrence said she confronted Kassier in 2014 about the lack of progress, and he refunded her $1,000 and promised her the other $1,500 back.
"He asked me if I would give him a chance, he would refund me my money and he asked if I would allow him to finish what he started," Lawrence said.
Lawrence said Kassier refuses to return calls.
She said she has not been contacted by the courts and nothing has been filed.
Lawrence said she has no money to hire a different lawyer. She said her goddaughter is now 9 years old and sees her pain.
"l feel bad for her, and I ask her, 'What's wrong?'" Karlicia said. "When she says 'nothing,' I say, 'I know something is wrong,' then I hug her," Lawrence said.
Kassier refused to talk to Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier about Lawrence's allegations. He didn't respond to a Local 10 attorney's request for comment either.
Records from the Supreme Court of Florida show the Florida Bar wanted to disbar Kassier in 1998. Instead, he was suspended from practicing law for a year.
An audit revealed Kassier misappropriated a client's trust funds and wrote several bad checks.
Two other clients claimed he took money to represent them and did nothing.
After serving his suspension, Kassier was reinstated in 2010 and placed on probation.
Lawrence has now filed complaint with the Florida Bar.
Local 10 has learned the Bar sent Kassier a letter requiring him to respond to the allegations.
The Florida Bar won't talk about open investigations, but Lawrence is hoping someone will help.
"All I want is for the adoption of my baby to be final so that she can have my last name and we can go on happily with our lives," she said.
Kassier represents Miami Gardens pastor Eric Readon.
Local 10 recently aired several stories about Readon after speaking with people who claim the pastor stole their money.
Readon has filed suit against WPLG, claiming that his reputation was ruined. Station management denies those charges and stands by the stories.
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