Thursday, June 16, 2016


A Committee of the Florida Bar in Jacksonville June 10, 2016 voted to bring Bar charges against attorney IAN JAMES CHRISTIANSEN over his selling licenses to grow and use medical marijuana, allegedly defrauding hundreds of Florida patients who paid as much as $799 for the licenses. The June 10, 2016 letter to IAN JAMES CHRISTENSEN states: "You are hereby notified that the Fourth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee “C,” at a duly constituted meeting on June 10, 2016, and by majority vote of eligible members present, found probable cause for violations of the following Rules: 4-1.1(competence), 4-1.2(d)(criminal fraudulent conduct), 4-1.5 (excessive fee), 4-1.7(conflict), 4-8.4(a)(misconduct), and 4-8.4(c)(conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation)."

Scott and Marsha Yandell were among the hundreds of victims of CHRISTENSEN's allegedly fraudulent scheme. They filed Bar complaints against CHRISTENSEN, who has been licensed in Florida since 2013

Scott and Marsha Yandell, former St. Johns County residents, were arrested for "trafficking" by dozens of SWAT team members working for controversial St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID BERNERD SHOAR f/k/a "HOAR," who has engaged in a continuing coverup of the September 2, 2010 shooting of Michelle O'Connell in the home of Deputy JEREMY BANKS, a local, national and international cause among people concerned about officer-involved domestic violence and government corruption. The Yandells, who relied on legal advice from CHRISTENSEN, now live in Oregon, were sentenced to probation last December by Circuit Court Judge J. Michel Traynor.

On June 15, 2016, the Florida Bar prosecutor detailed charges against attorney IAN CHRISTIANSEN, charged with defrauding hundreds of Florida residents by selling phony licenses to grow and use medical marijuana -- paragraphs 94-136 describe the Yandells' ordeal and the horrific consequences of CHRISTENSEN's fraud on the Yandell's lives:

The Florida Bar, complainant, files this Complaint against Ian James Christensen, respondent, pursuant to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and alleges:
1. Respondent is, and at all times mentioned in the Complaint was, a member of The Florida Bar, admitted on April 22, 2013, and otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Florida.
2. Respondent resided and practiced law in Duval County, Florida, at all times material.
3. The Fourth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee Cfound probable cause to file this Complaint pursuant to R. Regulating Fla. Bar 3-7.4, and this Complaint has been approved by the presiding member of that Committee.
COUNT I TFB FILE NO. 2015-00,559(4C)
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4. On or about July 2, 2013, less than three months after being admitted to The Florida Bar, respondent founded IJC Law Group, P.A.(IJC) and began offering legal services and advice to clients related to Florida law and the possession and use of medical marijuana.
5. On February 18, 2014, respondent, as owner/operator, formed Health Law Services(HLS) as a d/b/a of IJC Law Group.
  1. References to HLS read “a division of IJC Law Group, P.A.”
  2. On July 20 2014, respondent incorporated “CTI of Florida, Inc.
  3. CTI stands for Cannabinoid Therapy Institute.
  4. CTI’s stated mission was to “help Floridians with debilitating diseases
better their quality of lives everyday by assisting with the lawful medical use of cannabis; to further the understanding of the endocannabinoid system, and to engage in the lawful research and development of safe, world class cannabinoid based medicine for patients in need.”
  1. Respondent listed IJC Law Group as CTI’s registered agent.
  2. Non-lawyer Christopher Ralph, a self-professed expert in the medical
marijuana industry, represented himself as the director of CTI.
12. Mr. Ralph was also the “Legal Administrator and Consultant” for respondent’s law firm Health Law Services.
13. People searching the internet for medical marijuana would find CTI and would then become patients of CTI and clients of HLS.
14. Respondent charged HLS clients $799 for a doctor’s visit through CTI and, if the CTI doctor found there to be medical necessity, respondent via HLS provided the client an “Official Legal Certification” and Patient Identification Card stating that the client had received a marijuana prescription.
15. Examples of respondent’s “Official Legal Certification” and Patient Identification Card, both signed by respondent, are attached as Composite Exhibit “A.”
16. Respondent’s “Official Legal Certification” purports to advise law enforcement of the client’s right to cannabis as a medical necessity.
17. Respondent’s “Official Legal Certification” also purports to warn law enforcement
18. Respondent claimed that, based on Florida law, his clients had a right to possess, use, and grow cannabis due to medical necessity and were protected by the affirmative defense of medical necessity.
19. What respondent did not tell his clients, was that the “affirmative defense” of medical necessity would not apply, if at all, until after the clients were arrested, charged, and prosecuted.
20. Respondent also failed to tell his clients that his advice was inconsistent with federal law.
21. In fact, the HLS website declared
Florida’s medical necessity doctrine is built upon Florida’s common law defense of necessity, as outlined in Fla. Stat. 2.01. The purpose of the Doctrine is to prevent innocent patients from having to be arrested and prove in a court of law that they are using cannabis for medical purposes. Therefore, if a patient can prove to a law enforcement officer that cannabis is the safest medication available to treat their diagnosed condition, they are NOT subject to arrest.
22. In addition, respondent’s Facebook page stated
[o]ur practice is devoted to establishing your legal right to use medical marijuana in Florida under Florida’s doctrine of medical necessity. If you are currently suffering from a debilitating medical condition and cannot wait until 2015 to use medical marijuana, we may be able to help TODAY. Under Florida’s Doctrine of Medical Necessity you may have an absolute defense from prosecution to cultivate, possess and consume cannabis so long as you are able to meet strict guidelines as set forth by the Florida courts. In collaboration with a dedicated team of expert physicians, attorneys, patient advocates, and experienced medical marijuana professionals, we are the first law firm to develop a process to assist you TODAY so you may rest easy knowing you have a valid legal option to use this safe non-toxic medicine.
23. As a result of the foregoing, respondent’s business model came under scrutiny and was questioned in the press.
24. On April 28, 2015, Natural, published an article titled “EXPOSED: Cannabinoid Therapy Institute (CTI) Scamming Would-Be Patients.”
25. The article noted
[t]heir company which goes by the name of (CTI), Cannabinoid Therapy Institute of Florida, asserts that for $800, [Christensen] will give a patient an ID card and a doctor’s note from one of his own in-network doctors to keep a person from going to jail if they grow or consume marijuana. The $800 fee includes $300 ‘Health Law Services’ which pays a doctor to determine whether a patient meets the medical necessity criteria. They assert that the rest of the money covers the cost of legal documents, legal services and the ID card, which is not associated with any government agency whatsoever.
26. As more fully explained in Count II below, two of respondent’s clients were arrested and prosecuted for following his advice to possess, use, and grow marijuana.
27. In one of those criminal cases, the State moved to disqualify respondent arguing that he had a conflict.
28. Specifically, the State argued
Mr. Christensen provided these two defendants with a certificate . . . purporting to authorize them to commit the crime with which they are charged. Whether or not they relied on that certificate, the defendant when confronted by detectives at the front door upon execution of the search warrant actually presented it to detectives and said, my attorney told me it’s OK to grow marijuana. . . . In order for either defendant to testify either upon their reliance upon Mr. Christensen’s legal advice or their reliant [sic] upon the certificate purportedly authorizing them to grow the marijuana, cannot come in without his testimony. It’s hearsay. There’s no exception that would render the substance of that certificate
admissible. Not to mention the fact that the law is misrepresented in that certificate.”
29. In response, respondent argued
[t]he State contends that Attorney Christensen is a material witness to the case at bar, and without his testimony the Defendants’ criminal matter cannot be resolved. . . . That is simply not true. Defendant Young has been diagnosed with AIDS, from a licensed physician long before he ever sought counsel from Attorney Christensen. Defendants are not eliciting Attorney Christensen’s testimony as an element of Defendants’ defense that will be presented by Defendants in the case at bar. Moreover Attorney Christensen’s testimony does not support Defendant Young’s AIDS diagnosis, which can be independently gleamed for direct evidence, such as medical records. Therefore, Attorney Christensen is not a material witness to this case. . . . Attorney Christensen’s documents, nor his purported legal advice authorize or explain why Defendant Young manufactured cannabis, rather Defendant Young’s medical diagnosis of AIDS explains the reason for his manufacture of cannabis. Furthermore, neither Defendants nor his counsel rely on any documents authored by Attorney Christensen, or legal advice given to Defendants by Attorney Christensen for Defendants’ defense in the case at bar. Therefore, any previous legal advice obtained or given to Defendants by Attorney Christensen before Defendants arrest is moot, and immaterial.
30. During the conflict hearing, respondent repeatedly argued with the court and behaved intemperately.
31. For example
THE COURT: Okay. All right. Thank you. I’ve reviewed everything. Mr. Christensen, the interesting part of this case is that this document, which I’m going to place in was filed with the State’s motion -- specifically says that you, Mr. Christensen, not a judge, not a jury, not anyone else, you, hereby certify -­ you certify that Matthew Young has proven beyond a reasonable doubt I don’t know where you get the right to decide where somebody is beyond a reasonable doubt, but you did. So you certified to Mr. Young -- you certified to Mr. Young, beyond a reasonable doubt that cannabis is medically necessary to treat his debilitating condition.
MR. CHRISTENSEN: That’s based on the doctor’s expert medical opinion. 6
THE COURT: I don’t care what it’s based it. You certified a document to him that you as a lawyer -­
THE COURT: -- found that beyond a reasonable doubt he could use this.
MR. CHRISTENSEN: Based on his physician’s ...
THE COURT: So you cannot represent him in a criminal case when you certified yourself that he ...
MR. CHRISTENSEN: Your Honor -­
THE COURT: Counsel, I’m speaking. This is my turn.
THE COURT: And that’s his defense.
MR. CHRISTENSEN: And again this was to certify that in my legal opinion he had met his burden and established all these elements. And not only that, he had actually gone out and sought an independent medical opinion specifically to this. This document simply serves to notify anyone and so that it does not become an issue whether Matthew, himself, is claiming he has a right to this. This removes that and it also
THE COURT: Which becomes his defense?
MR. CHRISTENSEN: His defense was never that an attorney told him it was
all right. His defense has been I’ve sought counsel on this particular matter. The law says that I have a right to use this.
THE COURT: No. No. No. No. You say the law says.
THE COURT: -- you say the law says. You do not speak for the Court. You do not speak for the jury. You do not speak for the State of Florida. You speak in your capacity as a lawyer period. You cannot speak for anyone else. This is a
legal opinion period. That’s it. It’s not -- it is not a finding of the Court. It is not a finding of the supreme court. It is not a finding of a jury.
THECOURT: Andthedocumentthattheygavehim,thesheriff’soffice,is this document. Does it not have your name on it? Does it not contain your signature at the bottom of this document?
MR. CHRISTENSEN: Was that the -­
THE COURT: Does it not contain -­
MR. CHRISTENSEN: It most certainly does, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Okay. So at this point based on the fact that the defendant when questioned by law enforcement provided them with a document that specifically finds you, a lawyer, certified beyond a reasonable doubt he had the right to grow the marijuana and that he grew the marijuana based on your document you cannot be his lawyer. So I am granting the motion -­

MR. CHRISTENSEN: That’s not what the document says, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Counsel, you can argue all you want. I’m granting the motion at
this point to find direct conflict. You have a direct conflict in both of these cases because the defendant will be relying on your advice as a defense to the charges. Your advice.
THE COURT: So there’
s no way he can have his -­
MR. CHRISTENSEN: He would not
THE COURT: -- defense without you testifying.
MR. CHRISTENSEN: None of that would be required, Your Honor. He would not need to make those statements. Again, the jury has the option to not -- if I have not proven beyond a reasonable doubt -­
THE COURT: Counsel, I -­
MR. CHRISTENSEN: then the jury can say that -­
THE COURT: -- have ruled.
MR. CHRISTENSEN: not support that. -- the facts and the evidence do
THE COURT: That’s really nice. That’s really great.
MR. CHRISTENSEN: Again, the narrative – the officer’s narrative states, Your Honor -­
THE COURT: Counsel, stop talking. Okay?
THE COURT: I’m not saying you’re wrong or you’re right. What you seem to
misunderstand about all of this is that -- I guess it’s a personal thing with you that you don’t seem to understand that if the Court rules against you that the only defense that your client has left is that you gave him bad advice and that they relied on your bad advice. That’s the only defense they have left. You don’t seem to understand that.
THE COURT: Again, you refuse to understand the position you’re putting your client in. You refuse to understand that.
32. The transcript of the conflict hearing is replete with many other examples.
33. Returning to the matter of non-lawyer CTI’s Christopher Ralph, respondent’s HLS website identified him as the “legal administrator” and, in
respondent’s own words, the person “tasked with responding to general media inquiries. Mr. Ralph is also a patient advocate and researcher....”
34. On the HLS website, Mr. Ralph also identified himself as a Member of the American Bar Association and Legal Administrator of Health Law Services. . . .
35. As the “media representative” for respondent’s law firm, Ralph is quoted, in numerous publications, interpreting Florida law and statutes regarding the medical necessity defense used in conjunction with medical marijuana.
36. While Ralph may be knowledgeable regarding the endocannabinoid system and its relationship to various diseases and injuries, he is not an attorney and therefore is not qualified to interpret the law or to give legal advice.
37. An article printed on August 6, 2014, in, titled Medical Marijuana Seminar in Jacksonville Held Saturday” states
[t]his is something that has been on the west coast for decades, but on the east coast, people just don’t seem to know what it is or how it works,” Christopher Ralph, a lawyer and speaker at the seminar, said. . . . “You’re educating the people at the seminar, but you are also educating the people they speak with,” he said. “It’s really exponential when it comes to this and you can educate a lot of people really quickly.” With the amendment on the November ballot, Ralph wants people to be informed on the issue before voting. He said that with all of the restrictions in the industry, he doesn’t want people to think they are able to do certain things that they think are legal, only to find out that they have committed a crime. “We don’t want people to hurt themselves in this industry, so we need this opportunity to educate them in this process.
38. Another article published on October 13, 2014 in, titled “Law Firm Draws Heat for Claiming Medical Pot Legal” states “‘It is clear that our Florida statute allows for the lawful possession of cannabis if somebody is in the possession of a prescription,’ said Christopher Ralph, legal administrator at Health Law Services.
39. In another article posted in Clay Today on December 25, 2014, titled “Dahlia’s Law Is New Push for Medical Marijuana” author Mike Ford wrote “She continues to be treated with cannabis oil, thanks to an aggressive legal team that is led by Christopher Ralph. His Jacksonville-based firm, Health Law Services is advocating for changes to Florida law that, Ralph said, would merely create access to medication that is already legal - there simply aren’t any pharmacists to fill a prescription. ‘You already have the right to use the medicine and doctors can prescribe it but there’s no pharmacy to fill it,’ Ralph said ‘You can also grow it with a doctor’s prescription.’”
40. By reason of the foregoing, respondent has violated the Oath of Admission and the following Rules Regulating The Florida Bar: 4-1.1 (Competence), 4-1.7(a)(2)(Lawyer must not represent a client if the representation will be limited by another interest), 4-5.3(a)(Use of Titles by Nonlawyer Assistants), 4-5.3(b)(Supervisory Responsibility for Nonlawyer), 4-5.3(c) (Ultimate Responsibility of Lawyer for Nonlawyer), 4-5.5(a)(Unlicensed practice
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of law assist another in doing so), and 4-8.4(a)(Misconduct - violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct).
41. On or about June 25, 2014, Matthew Young and Lynne Nesselroad contacted respondent’s Health Law Services for advice regarding the current law in Florida concerning medical marijuana.
  1. Respondent sent them to CTI for an examination by a physician.
  2. Thereafter respondent advised them that, due to Young’s medical
condition, it was lawful for him to grow and use marijuana.
44. On September 10, 2014, respondent provided Young with an “Official Legal Certification” signed by respondent stating that Young had consulted with an attorney and medical expert and had established the right to cultivate, possess, and consume cannabis for medical purposes. See Composite Exhibit “A.”
45. On September 30, 2014, respondent provided Young and Nesselroad with I.D. cards identifying Young as the patient and Nesselroad as the “Qualified Caregiver.See Composite Exhibit “A.”
  1. Both I.D. cards listed respondent as the “Licensed Florida Counsel.
  2. The back of Young’s I.D. card contains the following statement: “As
licensed Florida Counsel, I hereby attest that I have consulted with the person
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identified on the front of this card and based on a licensed physicians expert opinion and testimony, the patients diagnosed medical condition meets the criteria to establish a medical necessity for cannabis, as allowed by Florida’s Medical Necessity Doctrine. . . .
48. Young’s I.D. card identifies the physician as “Chaksua Sharma, M.D.”
49. The number listed for “Dr. Sharma” is the same as for Health Law Services.
50. Upon information and belief, Ms. Sharma is not a doctor in Florida or any other state and her whereabouts are unknown.
51. In addition, the disclaimer stated: “This card is intended to be used solely for the purpose of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt the patient’s medical necessity for cannabis. As such, the patient’s medical necessity is an absolute defense from criminal prosecution, and any state officer can be stripped of their immunity for willfully disregarding the human rights and safety of the patient identified by this card.
52. On November 4, 2014, Young and Nesselroad were arrested for trafficking marijuana and possession and manufacture of cannabis.
53. They were charged with manufacture, but not possession or trafficking.
54. On November 7, 2014, following their arrest, respondent charged them $8,000 to defend them in their respective criminal cases.
  1. Mr. Young’s father, Vernon Young, paid the fee.
  2. On January 13, and January 27, 2015, respectively, respondent
entered pleas of Not Guilty on behalf of Nesselroad and Young.
57. On March 17, 2015, when the State learned that respondent had advised Young and Nesselroad that it was lawful for them to grow and use marijuana, the State filed a motion to disqualify respondent arguing that by giving his clients that advice, respondent had become a material witness in their criminal cases.
58. On March 26, 2015, at the Motion to Disqualify hearing, Judge Mary Handsel disqualified respondent.
59. Despite the court’s ruling, respondent continued to argue that the court was wrong, that he was right, and that his clients had no need for the defense of “I did it because my attorney told me I could do it,” because he intended to argue medical necessity.
60. Examples of respondent’s many discourteous and intemperate comments were noted above and are contained in the hearing transcript.
61. Finally, after the judge repeatedly told respondent that he had a direct conflict and respondent’s repeated reply that he disagreed, the judge simply said, “Okay. Well, I win.”
62. Following respondent’s disqualification, Young and Nesselroad attempted to obtain a refund from him.
63. Respondent told them that the money was gone.
64. On June 19, 2015, Young and Nesselroad’s new attorney, Shawn Gearhart, filed their Motion to Disgorge Fees alleging that respondent knew or should have known that a direct conflict existed from inception and thus the fee he accepted to represent them constituted ill-gotten gains.
65. On July 16, 2015, the State nolle prossed Young and Nesselroad’s criminal cases.
66. On July 27, 2015, respondent filed his Response to the Motion for Disgorgement, claiming that “because Defendant Young did not rely on Attorney Christensen’s legal advice in the act of cultivating and utilizing marijuana. Defendant Young merely sanitized his actions with the sought after legal advice from Attorney Christensen in an attempt to become compliant with Florida’s existing statutes and drug laws.
67. Respondent further stated that “if any paperwork was relied upon by the Defendants, it was the paperwork from the licensed practitioner that was issued
to Defendant Young after he obtained a letter of medical necessity from Dr. Genester-King. Therefore, Attorney Christensen had no way of knowing that a Judge would declare that the Defendants relied on Attorney Christensen’s certification rather than the opinion of Dr. Genester-King who is a licensed physician.
68. These statements are directly contradicted by respondent’s statements appearing on both the “Official Legal Certification” and the I.D. cards both of which respondent himself signed.
69. On July 18, 2015, the Motion for Disgorgement of Attorney’s Fees hearing took place.
70. On July 30, 2015, Judge Handsel granted the Motion to Disgorge and ordered respondent to repay the entire $8,000.
71. The court further found that if respondent did not timely repay the money, Young and Nesselroad could then file a Motion for Contempt.
  1. Meanwhile Young filed his Bar complaint against respondent.
  2. On August 10, 2015, respondent filed his response to Young’s
complaint alleging I stand by my legal opinion that under Florida law, Mr. Young had the lawful right to cultivate, manufacture and consume cannabis solely for his own legitimate medical use.
74. With regard to the conflict of interest violation respondent stated: I do not believe I could have reasonably foreseen the potential conflict of interest found by Judge Handsel. This is due to the fact that the State had been made aware of any potential conflicts since the day of Mr. Young and Ms. Nesselroad’s arrest, yet failed to mention such conflict within a reasonable time frame.
75. Respondent’s argument, in other words, seems to be that because nobody told him that a conflict of interest existed, he had no responsibility to investigate that possibility on his own.
76. Whether or not the State knew of respondent’s conflict is not at issue here.
77. As an attorney, respondent is charged with the duty to investigate the possibility of a conflict himself.
78. On September 21, 2015, Mr. Gearhart filed the Young and Nesselroad’s Motion for Order to Show Cause alleging respondent’s failure to comply with the court’s order granting the Motion for Disgorgement.
79. The Motion for Order to Show Cause was electronically transmitted to respondent via the E-Filing Portal.
80. On September 22, 2015, respondent filed a Motion for Enlargement of Time to File Appeal.
81. On September 24, 2015, respondent filed an untimely Notice of Appeal of the Order Granting Motion for Disgorgement of Attorney’s Fees with the Second District Court of Appeal.
82. When respondent failed to respond to the Motion for Order to Show Cause, Mr. Gearhart set a hearing on the motion for October 2, 2015, and filed a Notice of Hearing, again providing respondent with a copy via electronic transmission through the E-Filing Portal.
83. On October 2, 2015, the actual day of the hearing, respondent telephoned the court requesting permission to appear telephonically.
84. The court denied respondent’s request, reset the hearing for October 16, 2015, and required the parties appear in person.
85. On October 15, 2015, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order Granting Motion for Disgorgement of Attorney’s Fees.
86. The court dismissed respondent’s motion as untimely and further found that due to respondent’s filing of an appeal in the Second District Court of Appeal, the court no longer had jurisdiction.
87. On October 16, 2015, although ordered to appear in person, respondent appeared at the hearing by phone.
88. The court heard argument of counsel and continued the hearing to October 27, 2015, again ordering that the parties appear in person.
89. On October 26, 2015, respondent filed an Emergency Motion to Stay the Order of Disgorgement Pending Appeal in the Second District Court of Appeal.
90. On October 27, 2015, respondent failed to appear at the show cause hearing either in person or otherwise.
91. The court granted the Motion for Order to Show Cause and issued a warrant for respondent’s arrest.
92. On October 29, 2015, respondent filed an Emergency Motion to Disqualify Judge Handsel in the Second District Court of Appeal listing Vernon Young as the Appellee/Respondent.
93. By reason of the foregoing, respondent has violated the following Rules Regulating The Florida Bar: 4-1.1(Competence), 4-1.5(Excessive Fee), 4-1.7 (Conflict), and 4-8.4(a)(Misconduct).
94. In or around June 2014, Scott and Marsha Yandell met with respondent at Health Law Services.
95. On July 2, 2014, the Yandells paid $799 for Scott Yandell to receive a medical interview by Dr. Sharma,subsequent medical cannabis recommendation, and Official Legal Certification from respondent.
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96. Respondent provided Mr. Yandells Official Legal Certification dated August 12, 2014.
97. The Certification, signed by respondent, states “I hereby certify that Scott Yandell has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that cannabis is medically necessary.”
98. On or about July 20, 2014, the Yandells paid $799 for Marsha Yandell to receive a medical interview by “Dr. Sharma,” subsequent medical cannabis recommendation, and Official Legal Certification from respondent.
99. Respondent provided Mrs. Yandell’s Official Legal Certification dated September 9, 2014.
100. The Certification, signed by respondent, states “I hereby certify that Marsha Yandell has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that cannabis is medically necessary.”
101. On or about August 27, 2014, Wesley Brill paid respondent $799 to receive a medical interview by Dr. Sharma,subsequent medical cannabis recommendation, and Official Legal Certification from respondent.
102. Respondent provided Mr. Brill’s Official Legal Certification dated October 14, 2014.
103. Mr. Brill’s Certification assigns Scott Yandell as his authorized agentto produce the cannabis that is medically necessary for his condition.
104. The certification, signed by respondent, states “I hereby certify that Wesley Brill has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that cannabis is medically necessary to treat his debilitating condition(s).”
105. The Yandells asked respondent on several different occasions if growing cannabis in their residence would be a problem.
106. In fact, respondent and Mr. Ralph visited the Yandells in their home and saw the cannabis growing.
  1. Respondent repeatedly assured them that there would be no problem.
  2. On January 17, 2015, the police showed up at the Yandells’ home
pursuant to a 911 call.
109. The next day, the Yandells contacted respondent, informed him of their encounter with law enforcement, and asked if they needed to dismantle their growing operation, anticipating that law enforcement would return.
110. Respondent assured them that they had nothing to worry about and told them that he, or someone from his office, would attempt to contact the St. John’s County Sheriff’s office to discuss the situation.
111. There is no record that respondent ever contacted the sheriff’s office on behalf of the Yandells.
112. On February 11, 2015, the Yandells’ home was raided by a fully armed SWAT team.
113. The Yandells were arrested and charged with manufacture of cannabis, possession of cannabis with intent to sell or deliver, possession of a place or structure for trafficking or manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and trafficking in cannabis in excess of 25 pounds.
114. Respondent was present at the Yandells’ first appearance and met with them after they bonded out of jail.
115. In the interim, the Yandells’ home, valuables, and vehicles had been seized and were detained for forfeiture.
116. The Yandells realized that respondent was not aware of the laws regarding forfeiture and seizure.
117. Respondent encouraged the Yandells to file an internal affairs report regarding the damage done to their home and belongings.
118. On March 23, 2015, the Yandells were arrested again after meeting with internal affairs detectives at their home.
119. The Yandells realized this new arrest was the direct result of their filing the internal affairs report.
  1. In April 2015, the Yandells hired a new attorney.
  2. On December 22, 2015, the Yandells took a plea deal of 3 years’probation, a $15,000 fine, and 100 hours of community service.
122. As a result of their reliance on respondent’s assurances, Mrs. Yandell lost her nursing license of 25 years and Mr. Yandell lost his engineering job of 15 years.
123. In addition, the Yandells’ landlord sued them for damages to the home during the raid and for lost rent.
124. The landlord prevailed in that case and obtained a judgment in excess of $25,000.
  1. In addition, both of the Yandells now have a criminal record.
  2. Although respondent closed Health Law Services, he is nowassociated with the Florida Center for Integrative Health, Inc.
127. Mr. Ralph is the executive director of the Florida Center for Integrative Health.
128. The records of the Department of State Division of Corporations identify respondent as a director of the Florida Center for Integrative Health.
129. The Florida Center for Integrative Health’s documents identify respondent as both its compliance officer and general counsel.
130. Like before, the business model brings in patients seeking medical marijuana who are then seen by a doctor who approves their use of medical marijuana.
131. Respondent, as both “compliance officer/general counsel” purportedly ensures that everything is done “legally.”
132. In fact, on the Florida Center for Integrative Health’s website there is a link to “florida_cannabis_law_reduced.pdf.”
133. Clicking on that link leads to a publication called “Medical Cannabis in Florida: Compilation of Relevant Federal and State Laws, Guidance, and Policy.”
134. This publication is copyrighted by “Ian J. Christensen, Esq. All Rights Reserved.”
135. Although at one time, both respondent and Ralph appeared on Florida Integrative Health’s website with explanations regarding their roles, all such references have since been removed.
136. By reason of the foregoing, respondent has violated the following Rules Regulating The Florida Bar: 4-1.1(Competence), 4-1.2(d)(Criminal fraudulent conduct), 4-1.5 (Excessive fee), 4-1.7(Conflict), 4-8.4(a)(Misconduct), and 4-8.4(c)(Conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).
WHEREFORE, The Florida Bar prays respondent will be appropriately disciplined in accordance with the provisions of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar as amended.

Carlos Alberto Leon, Bar Counsel The Florida Bar
651 East Jefferson Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300 (850) 561-5845

Florida Bar No. 98027
Staff Counsel
The Florida Bar
Lakeshore Plaza II, Suite 130 1300 Concord Terrace Sunrise, Florida 33323

(954) 835-0233
Florida Bar No. 897000
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PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the trial counsel in this matter is Carlos Alberto Leon, Bar Counsel, whose address, telephone number and primary email address are The Florida Bar, 651 East Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399­ 2300, (850) 561-5845, Respondent need not address pleadings, correspondence, etc. in this matter to anyone other than trial counsel and to Adria E. Quintela, Staff Counsel, The Florida Bar, Lakeshore Plaza II, Suite 130, 1300 Concord Terrace, Sunrise, Florida 33323,

1 comment:

Marlene said...

My adopted son also got arrested after obtaining a Physician's Recommendation and went through hell and a long court battle because of this including legal fees, probation, court costs, etc. Is there a way to at the very least get the $800 back or is there a class action lawsuit against him? Thanks so much. Marlene