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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 9, 2004 15 years ago

Lights.Camera. Action.

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After an acting stint in New York City, Anthony Garcia opens a new Hyde Park law firm with Rick Alvarez, a former partner of Steven Yerrid.

Lights.Camera. Action.

After an acting stint in New York City, Anthony Garcia opens a new Hyde Park law firm with Rick Alvarez, a former partner of Steven Yerrid.

By Janet Leiser

Managing Editor

Anthony Garcia's handsome face flashed on the big-screen with Robert DeNiro in "Analyze That," and on television screens in scenes from "The Sopranos."

In New York, he was the face of the New York tax amnesty program guy. "I ran through Times Square in downtown Manhattan making believe the tax man was chasing me down," he says. "It was kind of like a 'Vanilla Sky' scene, running through Times Square."

But Garcia's days of glory in front of the camera look like they're over. "I had my 30 seconds of fame," Garcia, 32, says jokingly.

The Tampa native has returned to Tampa after two years in Manhattan as a struggling actor. In January, he and Rick Alvarez, a Notre Dame graduate, opened a law firm in Old Hyde Park Village.

They say they've returned to their roots.

Both lawyers are the descendants of immigrants who settled in Ybor City more than a 100 years ago. Their great-grandparents worked in the cigar factories. Most of their families still live in the area.

The firm's marketing logo capitalizes on the Ybor connection. An oil painting of a dark-haired woman, who looks as though she belongs in Ybor around the turn of the 20th Century, holding the scales of justice in one hand and a red rose in another, and sitting atop a floating globe, greets visitors to the West Swann Avenue office. The attorneys have trademarked the elegant logo, and replicated it on their business cards.

Alvarez worked for a large Miami firm, Floyd Pearson Richman Greer Weil Brumbaugh & Russomanno PA, for eight years after graduating from Notre Dame with a law degree in 1994. Prior to starting the firm with Garcia, he was a partner with The Yerrid Law Firm.

"The goal was always to return home, especially since our roots run so deeply here," Alvarez says.

Garcia, a graduate of the South Texas College of Law, worked as a Hillsborough prosecutor before joining a Tampa firm. While there, he took up acting lessons and in 2001 he moved to New York City, six days prior to 9/11.

There were non-speaking parts on "The Sopranos," "Law & Order," and "Analyze That." And he worked part time with a firm there.

"After almost two years of learning what it's like to be a starving artist and a struggling actor and dealing with the trials and tribulations of New York City post 9/11 I decided that's enough," Garcia says. "It certainly gave me a more worldly outlook."

Alvarez followed a more traditional career route than Garcia. But he does play the guitar at gigs when he gets a chance.

The trial lawyers specialize in personal injury, defense and plaintiff, consumer issues and commercial law.

They love a challenge. Alvarez says, "It has become my specialty over the years to acquire cases that are either unusually challenging or in great need of creative thought."

Their first few months haven't held too many surprises, Alvarez says, adding, "This is so much more enjoyable because you know it's solely your own deeds creating the results."

And who knows? Maybe Garcia's acting career isn't over. He and Alvarez recently appeared in a television ad for Iavarone's, a popular Tampa steakhouse. They're friends with the owner.

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