BREAKING NEWS: Bowdoin’s Paid Attorneys File Motion To Withdraw; Akerman Senterfitt Says Relationship ‘Deteriorated’ After Evidentiary-Hearing Ruling Went Against ASD
UPDATED 7:24 P.M. EDT (U.S.A.) Michael Fayad and Jonathan Goodman of Akerman Senterfitt have asked a federal judge to withdraw themselves and the firm as attorneys for AdSurfDaily Inc.,Â Bowdoin/Harris Enterprises Inc. and Andy Bowdoin.
At the same time, the firm cited attorney-client privilege with respect to its communications with Bowdoin.
In asking for leave to withdraw, the attorneys said their representation of Bowdoin had become “unreasonably difficult.”
“After this Court denied Claimant’s Emergency Motion for Return of Seized Funds [on Nov. 19, 2008], the client-lawyer relationship between the Firm and all three Claimants substantially deteriorated and has not improved thus rendering the representation unreasonably difficult,” the lawyers said.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered the lawyers to instruct Bowdoin on critical points of law last week, after Bowdoin had filed a series of motions acting as his own attorney. The firm never formally withdrew from the case, but Bowdoin said in court filings that he had fired Fayad and Goodman.
Bowdoin told ASD members March 13 that he had spent $800,000 on the forfeiture case filed last August and dismissed the attorneys for getting “no results.” He added that he had consulted with a “group” that “said that my attorneys had taken the wrong approach. The group was very confident that they could help because the government had broken so many laws and had violated our rights as citizens of the United States.”
Akerman Senterfitt advised Collyer today that it had contacted Bowdoin and his corporate alter egos “recently” and advised them on the critical matters, which dealt with a rule that corporations could not proceed as pro se litigants.
“The Akerman Senterfitt law firm has recently been able to contact its clients and has obtained their consent to withdraw from representing them,” the firm said. It did not say how it contacted Bowdoin or identify his whereabouts.
“In addition, Akerman Senterfitt’s two corporate clients have been specifically advised that they cannot appear as litigants in this Court on a pro se basis and that they must have counsel,” the firm said. “Through their principal, Mr. Bowdoin, the two corporate clients provided written acknowledgment of their understanding of this legal rule.”
Collyer said last week that AdSurfDaily Inc. and Bowdoin/Harris Enterprises Inc. could not represent themselves pro se on claims to seized proceeds because they are corporations. Bowdoin is permitted to represent himself as an individual on claims, but the corporations must have an attorney.
Plaintiffs in a racketeering lawsuit against Bowdoin that is separate from the forfeiture case said they have not been able to serve Bowdoin or co-defendants Robert Garner or Clarence Busby.
Garner was an ASD attorney. Busby was president of Golden Panda Ad Builder, a company whose assets were seized in the ASD probe. The RICO lawsuit has been pending since Jan. 15. A second summons was issued March 18.
Why Bowdoin, Garner and Busby have not been served is unclear. Garner is listed as a director of AdSurfDaily Inc. in Nevada corporation records. But ASD’s incorporation in Nevada appears to be in default for not filing an annual update of officers by Dec. 31, 2008.
ASD is listed as a Nevada-based foreign corporation in Florida, with Bowdoin holding the titles of director, president, secretary and treasurer. Garner’s name is not listed in the Florida documents, which were filed May 23, 2008.
ASD, in longhand, listed its address as 13 S. Calhoun St., Quincy, Fla., in its May 2008 Florida filing. Federal prosecutors said the address was bogus. The same address is listed in Nevada corporation records. Public filings suggest that the U.S. Secret Service was on the ground in Quincy prior to the seizure of ASD’s assets last August. The forfeiture complaint contains a photograph of an ASD sign the prosecution said listed the bogus address.
Florida filings from 1995 and 1996 by Bowdoin’s wife, Edna Faye Bowdoin, list the address of the building ASD went on to use as its headquarters as 11 S. Calhoun Street. The building once was home to Faye’s Florist Inc. The same building was listed by Edna Faye Bowdoin as having the 13 S. Calhoun Street address and serving as headquarters for Bowdoin/Harris Enterprises, according to June 2008 Florida records.
Fayad and Goodman today did not say where Bowdoin could be reached, acknowledging that they were aware of his pro se pleadings because they were a matter of public record.
“Given the attorney-client privilege, the Akerman Senterfitt law firm cannot disclose the
specific issues underlying the problems with the client-lawyer relationship,” the firm said.
“However, without breaching the attorney-client relationship, and based on documents which Mr. Bowdoin publicly filed with the clerk’s office, it is obvious that Claimants have decided to represent themselves without consulting their counsel,” the firm continued.
“By way of example only, Mr. Bowdoin has recently filed, on a pro se basis, a series of motions. Mr. Bowdoin filed these motions without consulting with counsel and without bothering to advise counsel that he would be submitting motions on his own. Under these circumstances, the Akerman Senterfitt Law Firm cannot render effective assistance of counsel.”
In a proposed order for leave to withdraw as Bowdoin’s counsel, the firm said Bowdoin’s last known address was 8 Gilcrease Lane, Quincy, FL 32351.
AdViewGlobal (AVG), a surf firm that has close ties to ASD, introduced members to a firm known as Pro Advocate Group in February. Pro Advocate Group says it can help people practice law without a license. Bowdoin’s pro se pleadings began to appear at the same time AVG introduced the company.
Karl Dahlstrom is associated with Pro Advocate Group. He was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison in the 1990s for securities fraud.
Fayad and Goodman filed notice with the court last fall that Bowdoin would exercise his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination at the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 evidentiary hearing. Bowdoin did not appear for the hearing or take the stand.
In his pro se pleadings, however, Bowdoin acknowledged ASD was operating illegally last summer when agents seized real estate and tens of millions of dollars amid allegations of wire fraud, money-laundering and running a Ponzi scheme.
Bowdoin said he was denied “fair notice” that his conduct was illegal. Within days of his claim, Gary Talbert, a former ASD executive, resigned as chief executive officer of AVG.