Two South Florida lawyers have been suspended from practicing law because of issues relating to substance abuse and improper distribution of funds. Tarica LaBossiere of Lauderhill and Wanda Rufin of Miami are currently on suspension.
LaBossiere was admitted to the bar in 2018, but her issues with substance abuse became apparent soon after. She was convicted of and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence in Boynton Beach in May 2018. She received twelve months of probation and paid a $1,000 fine. LaBossiere was also required to sign a contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance, which supports lawyers with substance abuse issues. She did not comply with the agreement and was put on a three-year probation and received an official admonishment in April 2021.
LaBossiere’s problems did not end there. She signed a new contract with Florida Lawyers Assistance but tested positive for cocaine in August 2022. This violated the agreement, which required that she “totally refrain from using all mood-altering substances, including alcohol and any beverage, food, or non-prescribed medication containing alcohol or other mood-altering substance.” LaBossiere said that she spent the night in a house where cocaine was being used but did not partake herself. However, she tested positive for alcohol in November 2022 and could not give a reason for the positive result.
This last violation put her in contempt of court and resulted in a 91-day suspension beginning on August 3, 2023. An order from state supremes says that LaBossiere is no longer practicing law.
Wanda Rufin of Miami has also been suspended from practicing law in South Florida for different reasons. Rufin represented a husband in a recent divorce case, during which the couple sold their home with a net gain of $303,703. Rufin handled this money personally, putting it into her trust account. After the settlement, Rufin distributed the funds to the husband and ex-wife. However, a court ruled that she did so incorrectly, keeping $71,897 that should have gone to the ex-wife.
The Florida Bar explained, “When the court ordered a final equitable distribution to the former wife, Rufin failed to advise the court about the remaining balance of the marital funds held in a second escrow account.” Rufin was ordered to pay $71,897 to the ex-wife and received a one-year suspension from practicing law, which begins on Saturday, October 7.
Both suspensions were part of sweeping disciplinary actions by the Florida Supreme Court. Between August 3 and September 21, orders were issued to suspend seven attorneys, including LaBossiere and Rufin, publicly reprimand another, revoke the license of three attorneys, and disbar one. Attorneys across the state were affected. The most common reason for suspension was neglect of clients and improper representation. Other issues included a felony charge for carrying a concealed weapon, providing legal advice while suspended, and eliciting false testimony.
Discipline case files are public records posted to each attorney’s online Florida Bar profiles. The Florida Bar, Florida Supreme Court, and its Department of Lawyer Regulation administer a state-wide disciplinary system encompassing 110,000 attorneys.