Florida Supreme Court disbars former counsel for Miccosukee Tribe

Years of rivalry end with Miami attorney bankrupt and disbarred


MIAMI – Years of lawsuits end with Bernardo Roman bankrupt and disbarred.  

When Colley Billie defeated Miccosukee tribe's long-serving chairman Billy Cypress in 2009, he fired all of the tribe's outside lawyers and accountants.

Among those pushed away were attorneys Guy Lewis and Michael Tein, who represented the tribe in a wrongful death action in the case of a drunken Miccosukee tribe member who was accused of killing two people in a car crash. 

Billie also promoted Roman, who was then a tribal court clerk, to in-house tribal attorney. A rivalry between Roman and the Lewis Tein firm turned into more than five years of litigation. 

Roman wrongly claimed Tein billed the Miccosukee tribe "fictitious, excessive, exorbitant and unsubstantiated legal fees" and submitted false evidence, records show. Last year, a judge ordered Roman to pay the attorneys about $562,000 in fees, but Roman filed for bankruptcy in November.  

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dava Tunis recommended that the Florida Supreme Court find him guilty of violating 14 Florida Bar rules and disbar him. The Florida Supreme Court permanently disbarred Roman July 12 and gave him until Aug. 11 to close his practice. 

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