Disbarred judge accused of illegally acting as attorney

Published October 12, 2007

TAMPA - A disbarred judge was booked into jail Thursday amid allegations he has been practicing law without a license.

Louis Frazier Tidwell, 69, lost his law license after he was sentenced to prison in 1991 for having sex with a 14-year-old girl and smoking crack cocaine.

On Thursday, state attorneys asked Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder to sentence Tidwell to jail for violation of probation.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Karen Stanley said the violation stems from evidence the state has that he has illegally acted as an attorney. However, no formal charges have been filed detailing those allegations.

The State Attorney's Office would not comment further.

Holder set Tidwell's bail at $5,000.

Ron Cacciatore, Tidwell's attorney, said he doesn't know what evidence the state has that Tidwell has been practicing law.

The former workers' compensation judge has represented claimants before the Social Security Administration since 1995, Cacciatore said.

Patti Patterson, spokeswoman for Social Security Administration, said such representatives need not be lawyers.

"He's been doing what he's supposed to do," Cacciatore said, "and hasn't committed any crimes."

Holder set a Dec. 13 hearing.

Tidwell, who listed his occupation as a paralegal on jail records, had been a judge for 20 years before he admitted to trading drugs for sex with a 14-year-old girl over the course of three years in the late 1980s.

Tidwell was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but he got out after four. His probation isn't scheduled to end until 2039.