Florida woman fails bar exam twice, starts law firm anyway | TribLIVE.com

Florida woman fails bar exam twice, starts law firm anyway

Samson X Horne

A Florida woman who failed the Bar exam twice — and has yet to pass it — was audacious enough to start her own law firm.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Roberta Guedes, 40, could end up facing prison time after federal prosecutors say that she used the name of a classmate who passed the Florida Bar to create two new law firms with the state’s Division of Corporations. To seem legit, she even created websites for both companies, made up national and international offices and displayed stock photos of people who looked like lawyers.

From there, Guedes represented clients, accepting payment to work in immigration and family law cases. She neglected to tell them she wasn’t a licensed lawyer, the Times reported.

Guedes, who graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 2014, signed a plea agreement Oct. 30 convicting her of federal charges of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Her charges came months after settling a case the Florida Bar brought against her accusing her of practicing law without a license.

Citing court documents, the Times reported that Guedes used former classmate Agnieszka Piasecka’s name for her nefarious activities.

Piasecka attended law school with Guedes and the two planned to open a law firm together, the court documents said. That never happened as a result of Guedes failing the Bar exam. Piasecka did pass and opened her own firm specializing in wills and trusts, immigration and divorce cases.

In September 2014, Guedes created a business named Ferguson and McKenzie LLC. She listed Piasecka as a registered agent for the corporation without her knowledge, according to the plea agreement. She used the name of another woman, Arlete Chouinard, as vice president and manager for the business, also without her knowledge.

She also created another business, Immigration and Litigation Law Office, Inc., using a similar scheme.

The scheme fell apart after two judges figured out the ruse after her failed attempt to have two cases heard on the same day.

When trying to contact Guedes, they couldn’t locate her name in the Florida Bar’s lawyer directory.

She denied practicing law without a license, but, in the settlement, agreed to pay back the money she’d taken from clients and never advertise herself as an attorney again.

Guedes is due in court for a plea hearing in December. She faces a minimum of two years in prison.

Samson X Horne is a Tribune-Review digital producer. You can contact Samson at 412-320-7845, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.