School Board Candidate Norman Quintero Jailed Again

Orange County School Board candidate Norman Quintero called a news conference Friday but couldn’t attend because he had been arrested for the second time in a month.

The District 3 candidate was arrested for violating the conditions of a domestic-violence case from July 24, when his wife, Miriam Carolina Quintero, complained that he grabbed her arm.

Even though his wife later dropped the charges, a victims-rights advocate became concerned when she contacted the wife but Quintero intervened because the wife did not speak English, said Quintero campaign manager Angel Rodriquez.

The domestic-violence case is not the first brush with the law experienced by Quintero, 36, who is running against incumbent Rick Roach and two other challengers, Ed Musgrave and Billy Comer.

Another woman filed a domestic-violence complaint against him in 1997. In 1996 and ’97, Quintero faced complaints that he was practicing law without a license, resulting in the Florida Supreme Court’s ordering him to stop.

Friday’s arrest came after Quintero went to the house where his wife was staying to take her children to school. Deputies showed up and arrested him.

According to an arrest report, Quintero said he would get on a plane to his homeland of Puerto Rico if the deputy would not arrest him.

Hours later, when Quintero was still in jail, reporters came to his Hoffner Avenue mortgage business for a news conference about possible problems with

the school district’s $100,000 public-relations contract. The media event was postponed and then canceled. Since the July arrest, Quintero often has appeared publicly with his wife, assuring people that they had no unusual problems other than dealing with stress.

“My wife is here next to me, working, as usual,” he said in an interview earlier this week. “We’ve been under tremendous pressure of all types. I was not sensitive to her pressures, and that ended in a verbal argument.”

Six years ago, the Florida Bar Association received at least 35 complaints from people who said Quintero was advertising himself as a lawyer and represented them in legal proceedings without a license.

Many of the people, mostly immigrants or foreigners here on visas, claimed that Quintero took hundreds or thousands of dollars in legal fees from each of them but did little to advance their cases. Many said they feared deportation, as a result.

Quintero never acknowledged any specific wrongdoing, but on Feb. 14, 1997, he signed an agreement with the Florida Bar acknowledging that he is not licensed to practice law in the state of Florida and would stop doing so.

However, the Florida Bar continued to receive complaints about Quintero. In August 1997, the Florida Bar filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court, seeking a court order against him.

On Dec. 30, 1997, the Supreme Court ordered him to not practice law.

Earlier this week, Quintero dismissed the whole matter as a misunderstanding

“Never was a charge made,” Quintero said. “That was a big-time misunderstanding, because I was in a law firm with a few attorneys who should have known better.”

He said he understood federal law allowed people without attorney’s licenses to practice certain kinds of immigration law, and that he tried to limit his practice to those.

In fact, federal law allows people to do so in certain cases, but only with the judge’s informed approval, and only if the counselor is not paid for the appearance.