Monday, November 30, 2009

Scott Rothstein to be arrested tomorrow (Tuesday) -- NUMEROUS UPDATES BELOW

The Herald broke the story here:

Scott Rothstein, the flashy Fort Lauderdale attorney who authorities say ran a $1 billion investment scam while acting like a philanthropic tycoon, is expected to be arrested Tuesday on a federal racketeering charge, sources familiar with the case said.
Rothstein, who had fled to Morocco in late October but returned in early November, is expected to appear at a magistrate hearing to face the RICO conspiracy charge at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.
While under federal watch in November, Rothstein cooperated with prosecutors and provided them with details of his Ponzi scheme, involving the sale of fabricated legal settlements to wealthy investors.FBI and IRS agents also raided his Fort Lauderdale law office and seized his waterfront home and other assets.
Rothstein could not be reached for comment, and his attorney, Marc Nurik, declined to say anything about his client's imminent arrest.
``Scott intends to see that all legitimate investors get paid back,'' Nurik said late Monday. ``Exactly how that's going to be done remains to be seen. He is sincere in his intent.''
Rothstein, 47, is likely to plead guilty soon while he is in custody. The U.S. attorney's office, meanwhile, will convene a grand jury to consider criminal charges against Rothstein's alleged co-conspirators -- including possibly former employees of his now-defunct firm.

Scott is still talking, this time to the Sun-Sentinel:

Rothstein called Monday, after I sent a text asking if he was about to turn himself into federal authorities, a rumor that was making the rounds."No, I'm not surrendering," he said. "I'm sitting here in the hotel with my attorney (Marc Nurik) and it's a very strange scenario."First we're fielding calls from people asking if we're in protective custody. No, I'm not in protective custody. Now we're getting calls if I'm about to surrender...So I guess you guys are giving me a heads up that I'm about to be arrested."


Said [Mark] Nurik: "Nobody's telling us that they're picking him up, and nobody's giving us any right to surrender...He's sitting here with me, talking about the case. He's mostly freaking out about being arrested."

So, he'll obviously be detained with no bond. But should he be?

UPDATE 9:30am Tuesday -- Rothstein has been arrested early Tuesday morning and he wasn't permitted to surrender. He will make his initial appearance this morning in Ft. Lauderdale before Judge Robin Rosenbaum.
SECOND UPDATE -- No bond... Stipulation to detention...
THIRD UPDATE -- Rothstein was charged by way of infomation, which means he is definitely cooperating. Still strange to me that they simply wouldn't indict him. Here's the information, which has been assigned to Judge James Cohn.

Would you do 40 months for a billion bucks?

Bradley Birkenfeld would. He's the UBS banker who helped the government makes its case against UBS and all the tax cheats. Here's the New York Times story:

Bradley C. Birkenfeld was sentenced to 40 months in prison for helping rich Americans dodge their taxes. Now he is hoping for a bit more — a few billion dollars more.
Mr. Birkenfeld, a former private banker at the Swiss bank
UBS, won the enmity of his peers by violating the omerta of Swiss banking: He divulged the tax evasion secrets of UBS, the world’s largest bank by assets, and its well-heeled American clients. As part of a deal with federal prosecutors, he admitted to, among other things, helping to smuggle diamonds in a tube of toothpaste.
Now, as thousands of wealthy Americans seek amnesty for keeping illicit,
offshore bank accounts, Mr. Birkenfeld and his lawyers hope to use a new federal whistle-blower law to claim a multibillion-dollar reward from the American government. If they succeed — and legal experts say the odds are pretty good — it would be the largest reward of its kind.
Mr. Birkenfeld, who is to begin his prison term as soon as January, is being represented by the executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center, Stephen M. Kohn. Mr. Kohn successfully represented Linda Tripp, who helped expose the
Monica Lewinsky scandal of the Clinton years.
“We are seeking at least several billion dollars,” Mr. Kohn said.

So, how much would it take you to do 40 months in a federal pen:

I would do 40 months in federal prison for:
$1 million
$5 million
no amount of money free polls

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving weekend blogging

The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians was certainly thankful to Judge Seitz on Thanksgiving Day. Just hours before we all headed home on Wednesday to defrost our turkeys, Judge Seitz issued an order stating that she was “convinced that the Tribe will succeed on the merits” after a two-day preliminary injunction hearing last week seeking to halt construction on 21-mile “Loop Road” in the Everglades. The DBR’s article is here. Judge Seitz found that “the Government failed to comply” with environmental laws prior to starting the project. Michael Tein represented the Tribe at the hearing and accused the National Parks Service of a “cover up.” Mike produced Interior Department notes and memos indicating that government viewed public disapproval of the project as a “high risk” that would be handled with an “internal memorandum to file” instead of the full-blown public environmental study that federal environmental laws require. Apparently, the government was going to use money earmarked back in 2005 for “emergency Hurricane Wilma relief,” to pay for repaving the road, which Mike said had no hurricane damage. Mike’s brief charting out the alleged “cover up” is a fun read and I will post it shortly. After the hearing, the government agreed to delay the project another two weeks to allow for additional briefing. Judge Seitz said she would rule by December 14.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The case against Ben Kuehne and the co-defendants has been dismissed by the Feds. Happy Thanksgiving.

UPDATE -- The government moved to dismiss the pending appeal against Gloria Velez and also moved to dismiss the entire indictment in the district court against Velez, Oscar Saldarriaga, and Ben Kuehne. The motion simply says that it is based on the changed circumstances from the Court of Appeal's decision and in the interest of justice. Indeed. It was signed by Ken Blanco, Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

UPDATE 2 -- Ben Kuehne issued the following statement:

On this, the day before Thanksgiving, I am gratified beyond measure that the United States Department of Justice has decided to abandon all charges against me. I have had throughout a deep and abiding belief that things would turn out well in the end. However, I did not know the end result would come about by decision of the Department of Justice. We are all fortunate to be able to say that we have a Justice Department whose goal is to try to do the right thing—not to win at all costs.

Although I would have preferred not to go through this experience, I am also gratified that my case has been the occasion for an important precedent-setting legal ruling by the District Court, recently affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and embraced by the legal community, in preserving and protecting the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. This ruling deals with an area of law that is close to my heart. It is to the right to counsel in criminal cases that I have dedicated much of my career at the Bar. I want to, once again, thank the many members of our community who have, over the past two years, so consistently expressed their confidence in my innocence. Throughout this period, I have continued to do what I have been trained to do, and what I love most, which is to practice law. I am grateful to the many clients who have reposed their confidence in me by seeking to utilize my legal services.

I am also grateful to my amazing lawyers, John Nields, Jason Raofield, and Laura Shores from Howrey in Washington, D.C., and my good friend, Jane Moscowitz, from Miami. I wish to thank them for their skill, dedication, and commitment to me and my case.

Finally, throughout this legal drama, my greatest strength has been the unsinkable spirit and love of my wife, Lynn, and our entire family. I want to thank them for knowing who I am, and of my sincere dedication to the law.

Escape From Dubai

In another this-is-too-good-to-be-true story, Curt Anderson covers former French intelligence officer Herve Jaubert, who believed he was essentially being held captive in Dubai when his passport was confiscated by authorities amid a dispute with his employer, a powerful government-run conglomerate. He claimed he was threatened with torture and worried each day he would be arrested. From the AP article:

So Jaubert disguised himself as a Muslim woman and fled the country. The accomplished diver hid scuba gear under the head-to-toe abaya. He swam out to the area's only patrol boat and cut the fuel lines. Then, he said, he launched his rubber dinghy, started the motor and piloted it six hours to meet an awaiting sailboat.
Now he's in South Florida, embroiled in a federal lawsuit over an ill-fated business venture with Dubai World Corp., which says the 2008 escape story is one of his many lies. Jaubert sued the company, claiming the failed plan to build recreational submarines for tourists and the super-wealthy cost him millions in lost business opportunities.
"I lived with fear in my stomach for more than a year. Every day when you wake up, you expect to be picked up by the police," Jaubert said.

And we even get a video!

In other words, we should all be thankful that we weren't in Mr. Jaubert's shoes. Think Midnight Express:

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The U

Friends of Blog Alfred Spellman and Billy Corben (of Cocaine Cowboys fame) are now coming out with the U, which will air on ESPN December 9. Barry Jackson has a piece on the documentary today. Apparently, UM didn't cooperate... I never understand that. The movie is going to get made; you might as well cooperate. From Jackson:

Inside a Miami Beach office that feels like a not-too-reverential Hurricanes shrine, the finishing touches are being applied to the documentary of record on the University of Miami football program.
Stacks of old newspaper clippings and UM media guides sit atop a table. A Ray Lewis action figure poses menacingly on a desk, and a stuffed ``Ibis'' lurks across the room. A UM pin cushion and Canes pillow are propped on the couch.
Director Billy Corben and producer Alfred Spellman aren't only accomplished filmmakers -- they're also former UM students. Corben believes Canes fans will be pleased when their two-hour documentary, The U, airs at 9 p.m. Dec. 12 on ESPN, in a high-profile slot following the Heisman Trophy show.
``For Canes fans, this will be a reminder of what they loved about this team. For Canes haters, this will be a reminder of what they hated about this team,'' said Corben, who has crafted six films with Spellman, most notably Cocaine Cowboys. ``I'm also hoping the haters might walk away with some passing appreciation of what the team brought to the table in terms of their pop culture contributions, the merger of sports and entertainment, the style of game played.
``The criticism of the team has been well-documented. We certainly review it. But this is really a Canes talk-back, a Canes rebuttal kind of piece. There's no dearth of incredible highlights of both sensational plays and over-the-top celebrations.''
But Corben said UM refused to participate and would not allow the filmmakers to interview coach Randy Shannon, former athletic director Paul Dee or former president Tad Foote, though old sound bites from Foote appear in the film. According to Corben, former coach Dennis Erickson and several former Hurricanes players said they disregarded UM's request that they not grant interviews.
``It upset me to no end,'' Corben said of UM's resistance. ``I felt disrespected and unappreciated by my alma mater. Early on, [UM athletic department spokesman] Mark Pray told me, `You should rethink even doing this project.' It was a display of rudeness, disrespect and ignorance. UM has a persecution complex about that era.'' As a result, Corben said he resigned from UM's Citizens Board, which supports the university's philanthropic efforts and promotes UM's programs.
Jackie Menendez, UM's vice president/communications, said the school declined to allow the interviews or participate in the project because Corben wasn't willing to allow UM officials to read the script in advance. Corben said he never was asked for a script -- ``a documentary doesn't have a script'' -- but that he sent UM a treatment, which is a two-page synopsis of the project.

When Devin Hester heard that UM wasn't cooperating, this was his reaction, showing his Bear/bare behind.

The movie should be great. I'm looking forward to it. Luke Campbell has the title track:

In other news, a Miami pastor was convicted before Judge Huck yesterday after a lengthy trial. He was convicted of committing $7 million in fraud.

Rothstein was apparently paying his lawyers and staff with ponzi proceeds. This keeps getting uglier and uglier. Bob Norman has pics of his house and lots of other news.

An agent who was kidnapped in Colombia has been released:

About three hours later, ``Fat Man'' returned to the cabin with one of his men, who told Ortiz that they knew he was a federal agent.
They were visibly nervous, Ortiz told the FBI.
The man removed Ortiz's handcuffs, repeatedly saying, ``Our apologies, brother.''
Once his hands were free, Ortiz saw that his apologetic guard carried a revolver in a belt holster and asked him for it. The man surrendered it.
Ortiz also asked for a car, a demand accepted by his kidnappers. One of them drove him to the city.
Ortiz arrived on his own at the hotel, where a contingent of Colombian police officers and U.S. agents were waiting for him so they could take him immediately to Bogotá.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Did you know that the Sears Tower is now called the Willis Tower?

I sure didn't.

Anyway, the leader from the Liberty City group -- Narseal Batiste -- who was convicted of attempting to blow up that building was sentenced to 13 1/2 years by Judge Lenard. She sentenced brothers Burson Ausgustin, 24, and Rotschild Augustin, 26, to six and seven years in prison. Patrick Abraham, 30, received more than nine years and 34-year-old Stanley Phanor, eight years. Prosecutors had asked for 70 years for Batiste and 30 years for the others. I was happy to see that Judge Lenard rejected those requests. From the BBC:

Sentencing Batiste, US District Judge Joan Lenard said: "You've done great harm to yourself, your family, the young men who were your followers, and you've violated the trust of your country."
Batiste apologised for the plot in court, saying he had "wanted respect".
"I wanted to be this person that I really wasn't. I've never been a violent person," the Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

Anyway, hope you have a nice Thanksgiving week... I'm trying to figure out my new iPhone. I think I miss my BlackBerry....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

News & Notes (Fins edition)

It's been a long day, so I'm trying to cheer up in watching the Fins. So far, so good. 14-3 as we speak. Here we go with some news & notes:

1. Who wants to be a Magistrate? There's an opening in the District. The salary is $160K and to apply, you need to be less than 70, a member in good standing of the bar for 5 years, and not related to any judge in the district. Chief Judge Moreno has put together this selection committee:

Chair:David Rothman, Esq.
Rothman & Associates, P.A.

Georgie Angones (non-attorney)
Assistant Dean, Development & Alumni Relations

Jacqueline Becerra, Esq.

Greenberg Traurig PA

Robert Brochin, Esq.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Maria Christina Enriquez (non-attorney)

Paul Huck, Jr., Esq.
Colson Hicks Eidson

Manuel Kadre, Esq.

Todd Omar Malone, Esq.
The Malone Law Firm

Sonia Escobio O'Donnell, Esq.
Jorden Burt LLP

Vivian Perez-Siam (non-attorney)

Abigail Price-Williams, Esq.
Miami-Dade County Attorney's Office

Joseph Raia, Esq.
Gunster Yoakley & Stewart, PA

Alejandro Soto (non-attorney)
President & CEO, Insource, Inc.

Let's hope the committee acts more quickly than Obama.

2. More Liberty City sentencings today (AP). Judge Lenard has been sentencing the defendants to what looks like reasonable sentences in light of the facts of this case even though the government has been asking for 30+ year sentences:

Four men described as soldiers in a terrorism plot to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices have each been sentenced to less than a decade behind bars, far less than federal prosecutors sought.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard, in sentencing hearings Wednesday and Thursday, said the four were followers who participated far less than ringleader Narseal Batiste in discussions about possible terrorist attacks. The conversations were recorded by the FBI using an informant posing as an al-Qaida operative.
The plot never got past the discussion stage, which has led defense attorneys and national terrorism experts to describe the case as overblown since the "Liberty City Seven" were arrested in June 2006. Lenard appeared to share that sentiment, at least for the four who were sentenced.
"As I see this case, these young men were looking for something. I don't know, maybe it was their naivete and youth that made them fall under the influence of a man with a need to control and they became his followers," Lenard said.
Prosecutors sought between 30 and 50 years in prison for each of the four men, with Batiste facing a maximum of 70 years when he is sentenced Friday. They were convicted in May in the third trial of the case following a pair of mistrials, and two of the original suspects were acquitted.
Lenard sentenced Batiste's self-described "No. 1 soldier," 30-year-old Patrick Abraham, to just over nine years Thursday. Stanley Phanor, 34, got eight years and two other men were sentenced to even less time Wednesday. Lenard said a terrorism enhancement that applies in each case would result in an unreasonably harsh sentence, so she opted for leniency.
Abraham, a Haitian native who has been jailed since his 2006 arrest, apologized for what happened but insisted he never sought to be a terrorist.
"I am not nobody's enemy," he said. "I am not the government's enemy."

Batiste to be sentenced next.....

3. Kathy Williams was honored by UM yesterday. I asked one of my favorite readers who was there to give me a quick summary of the event:

Kathy Williams received the Lawyers in Leadership Award last night from UM's Center for Ethics & Public Service for her "dedication to public citizenship and leadership." Examples of Kathy's professionalism, leadership, dedication, and intellect, were highlighted by several speakers (Michael Caruso, Celeste Higgins, and Ricardo Bascuas), and included the fact that Congress cited Kathy's FPD's office as a model defender's office. Spotted in the packed room were Judges Moreno, Seitz, O'Sullivan, and Palermo. Kathy's speech was short and sweet, thanking all those who guided her and expressing gratitude for being able to "work with her heroes."

Even if you don't know Kathy, you've probably benefited from her national and local work related to indigent defense. Congratulations to her for this well-deserved accolade.

4. Prof. Bascuas, a FPD alum, spoke at Kathy's event. If you haven't recently, you should check out his blog. Lots of fun stuff.

5. Tom Withers writes in re his case below:

Mark Shelnutt was and is innocent of each and every charge brought against him. Mark represents what is good and right about criminal defense lawyers. He tries to right wrongs when he sees them. He brings a passionate intensity to defending his clients. And, most importantly, he believes in our system of justice and trusted the jury to fairly listen to the evidence, which they did.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lawyer acquitted in federal court in Georgia

Friends of the blog, Tom Withers* and Craig Gillen, walked a lawyer (Mark Shelnutt) today in Columbus, Ga. Shelnutt was charged with money laundering and drug offenses. The judge read 36 not guilty verdicts:

At 2:45, Land began to read.
“Count One, conspiracy to launder money,” the judge said. “Not guilty.”
“Count Two, aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Not guilty.”
“Count Five, money laundering. Not guilty.”
Then the judge’s words, cadence and diction took on a lyrical quality. The chorus, time and again, was “Not guilty.”
Thirty six times Land read a charge and followed it with not guilty.
By the time Land was finished, Shelnutt’s supporters, a combination of family and friends, many of them connected to St. Luke United Methodist Church, were cheering.

I'm sure Ben Kuehne and his legal team have been following the case...

*Tom runs his own blog here.

"Liberty City terror suspect gets 6 years in prison"

The first of the Liberty City defendants -- 24-year-old Burson Augustin -- was sentenced today. The government sought the maximum -- 30 years. But Judge Lenard did the right thing and sentenced Augustin to 6 years. From the AP:

A judge on Wednesday handed a six-year jail sentence to one of five men convicted of plotting to blow up the tallest building in the United States, Sears Tower, and swearing allegiance to Al-Qaeda.
US District Judge Joan Lenard found that Burson Augustin, 23, played a minor role in the conspiracy and gave him a far lighter sentence than the 30 years that prosecutors had been seeking.
In handing down the sentence, Lenard said: "Islamic terrorism is one of the most tremendous problems that this country now confronts... this defendant took an oath to Al-Qaeda."
But she added that Augustin's actions might have been affected by other factors. "This was a young man who for whatever reason, perhaps lack of education or lack of direction, came under the influence of Narseal Batiste."
Augustin's attorney Louis Casuso, had asked for leniency, telling the court that "when you are young, you say a lot of stupid things and you go through a lot of stupid things."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vamos a Cuba

Gotta love Miami -- Denials of cert are rarely newsworthy, especially front-page newsworthy. But the cert denial re Vamos a Cuba landed on the front page of the Miami Herald:

A three-year battle that pitted claims of censorship against the right of Miami-Dade schools to remove from their shelves a book that portrays an inaccurate view of life in Cuba ended Monday on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a huge win for the Miami-Dade School Board, the high court declined to take up the case -- leaving in place a decision by a federal appeals court that said the board's right to set educational standards is not equivalent to censorship.
``This is a great victory for the School Board and for Cuban Americans,'' said board member Perla Tabares Hantman, who from the beginning supported removing the book Vamos a Cuba from school libraries.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which sued the district after the book was removed from school shelves, called the Supreme Court's decision not to take up the case ``a blow to the First Amendment.''
``What the Supreme Court did was to give the School Board the power to cleanse the library shelves of various books,'' executive director Howard Simon said. ``That sets a dangerous precedent.''

Here's our prior coverage of the book banning case.

Bob Norman is churning out stories about Rothstein so fast that the rest of us can't keep up. It's really incredible what he is doing over at his blog. The investigation, insight, etc. Even if you are exhausted over the Rothstein coverage, his blog is worth a read. Here's one story about 1000 times chai. You can't make this stuff up!

And if you aren't watching Curb this season, you are really missing out. Here's a taste of this week's episode (be careful watching at work; rated R):

Sunday, November 15, 2009


That was the name of 22 of Scott Rothstein's corporations and it stood for "What a Wonderful World." Indeed. Here's the Sun-Sentinel story covering the genesis of the Rothstein spending, which started sometime in 2005.

I know, I know, enough Rothstein. But the Wall Street Journal got in the act, even including a slide-show. And here's the accompanying article, with some interesting stories including this one:
At an Eagles concert this year, Don Henley, the band's drummer, singled out Mr. Rothstein and his wife, Kimberly. "I don't normally do this, but this goes out to Scott and Princess Kimmy on their one-year wedding anniversary," Mr. Henley told the audience as the band ripped into "Life in the Fast Lane," its paean to the perils of excess. Mr. Rothstein paid $100,000 to one of Mr. Henley's charities for the dedication.

If you are sick of Rothstein, you're gonna want to puke after another story about how abysmal Obama has been with judicial selections. The New York Times has weighed in:
President Obama has sent the Senate far fewer judicial nominations than former President George W. Bush did in his first 10 months in office, deflating the hopes of liberals that the White House would move quickly to reshape the federal judiciary after eight years of Republican appointments.
Mr. Bush, who made it an
early goal to push conservatives into the judicial pipeline and left a strong stamp on the courts, had already nominated 28 appellate and 36 district candidates at a comparable point in his tenure. By contrast, Mr. Obama has offered 12 nominations to appeals courts and 14 to district courts.
Theodore Shaw, a Columbia University law professor who until recently led the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., said liberals feared that the White House was not taking advantage of its chance to fill vacancies while Democrats enjoy a razor-thin advantage in the Senate enabling them to cut off the threat of filibusters against nominees. There are nearly 100 vacancies on federal courts.
“It’s not any secret that among the civil rights community and other folks there has been a growing concern about the pace of nominations and confirmations,” Mr. Shaw said. “You have to move fairly quickly because things are going to shut down before you know it, given that next year is an election year and who knows what is going to happen in the midterm elections. No one wants a blown opportunity.”
Seriously, what is taking so long?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

News & Notes (Scott Rothstein edition)

1. Bob Norman is killing this story, telling us about strippers, Bova Prime (SFL will like the picture in this post, which I included to the left) and Judge Zloch.
4. UPDATED -- SFL covers the bogus Judge Marra order here. Here's the "order" and the SunSentinel coverage. Here's what SFL has to say about the "order":
1. There's no case number.
2. An interior decorating dispute yet Rothstein allegedly obtains a $2 million judgment.
3. "Punitive damages for fraud" to the tune of $21 million.
4. Rothstein allegedly gilds the lily with repeated references to how "clear and convincing" his evidence and presentation was.
5. A "contempt of counsel" award and Rule 11 sanctions too (where's the 28 USC Section 1927 award as well??)
6. Jones somehow waived her right of appeal "based on the doctrine of fraud in the inducement" and "unclean hands"?
7. This is friggin' loony tunes.
FURTHER UPDATE -- Rumpole has joined the party here. He even gets all Kobayashi Maru on us. The original is worth a watch:

This is not a post about Scott Rothstein

Who's going to the ADL lunch today honoring Albert Kreiger and Edith Osman? Come by and say hello.

Those who aren't can try betting on the Supreme Court.

Or watch some clips of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the best comedy on TV right now:

You prefer Glee, you say. Well here you go.

Fine, and if you must, here's a Scott Rothstein story. Blech.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ed Morse duped for $57 MILLION

According to this Herald article, he wired Scott Rothstein $57 million based on this story:

What began as a dispute over a $2 million decorating bill for Morse's new Boca Raton and Maine homes transformed into a $57 million scam, in which Rothstein allegedly ripped off his wealthy clients with an elaborate series of lies, delays and forged court orders, sources familiar with the matter told The Miami Herald.
Ed and Carol Morse -- who were family friends with Rothstein -- sued Boca Raton decorator Jan Jones in 2006 claiming he botched their job. Rothstein told the Morses earlier this year that they had won the breach-of-contract case and that the decorator owed them $23 million, sources said.
It wasn't true. In fact, the Morses lost the case.
Rothstein also produced purported federal court orders signed by a judge, saying the Morses could claim the judgment by seizing a Cayman Islands bank account belonging to the decorator, sources said.
There were no such court orders, nor any fat bank account, court records show.
To confiscate the money, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer allegedly told the Morses they had to post a bond 2 ½ times larger than the judgment, or $57 million, the sources said. The large amount was required as a guarantee in case bank officials confiscated the judgment from the wrong account, Rothstein told them.
So the couple wired the $57 million to Rothstein in installments earlier this year, the sources said. It is not clear whether Rothstein paid any of that money back.

PAINFUL. Too bad Morse didn't have the force:

Okay, I was sick of Rothstein stories too, but $57 million.....

Monday, November 09, 2009

Drinks at the Capital Grille over lunch

Bob Norman has been all over the Scott Rothstein case and had the (good?) fortune of running into him at the Capital Grille today. He even took video:

Here's another post about the encounter.

Why is this guy out in public at the Capital Grille talking to reporters? I understand that this was just happenstance, but he was bound to run into someone at lunch at the CG... Right now, he needs to be holed up somewhere not talking. (Hat tip: JA)


Sure, there's a lot of that going on with the Scott Rothstein case, but the guy isn't doing anything to help his cause. SFL covers his Herald interview, which was a total train wreck:

"I am sitting here smoking cigars with [my lawyer] Marc [Nurik]."

"Doing pretty good."

"During the brief interview with Nurik, Rothstein could be heard heartily laughing in the background."

It only gets worse:

Nurik would not disclose Rothstein's whereabouts -- a Florida location that Nurik said he -- not federal authorities -- chose.

"I have him hidden," Nurik said. "I'm not going to tell anybody where, including the government. I don't know where people are coming up with this stuff. I have been discussing his case with the government as any defense counsel would under these circumstances.

"I have been in contact with the government," Nurik said. "My client is at an undisclosed location of my choosing and he is talking to no one but me. He hasn't even met with his family."

Nurik declined to discuss the case, but added that Rothstein wanted to say goodbye.

"I'm doing really good," Rothstein said. "Marc is a great lawyer, a great friend. We will speak when the time is right."

YIKES! I'm not even sure that Alan Shore's closing argument on Schadenfreude could help Rothstein:

From the German words, Schaden and Freude, damage and joy. It means to take spiteful, malicious delight in the misfortune of others. We used to dismiss this as simply an ugly side of human nature, but it is much much more than that. Recently a Stanford professor actually captured Schadenfreude on a brain scan. It’s a physiological medical phenomenon. When we see others fall it sometimes causes a chemical to be released in the dorsal striatum of the brain which actually causes us to feel pleasure. If you watch the news or read the papers, which of course you don’t because the Judge said not to, but if you did, you would see the undeniable delicious joy of the media and the public over Kelly Nolan’s plight. I have no doubt that you want Kelly Nolan to be punished. She married for money, she had an affair, she carried on naked in the pool with her boyfriend. She’s cold, materialistic, unlikable, and it might bring you all pleasure to see her go to jail. But as for evidence to establish that she committed a murder beyond all reasonable doubt? It just isn’t there. The only possible route to a guilty verdict here is Schadenfreude.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Do as I say, not as I do

From the oral arguments on Tuesday of this week in the Supreme Court:

MR. BARNHOUSE: The lawsuit would be -- the lawsuit itself would be property, but the -- but any recovery would not be property until it became choate, until there was an amount of money assigned to it.

JUSTICE SCALIA: There is no such adjective -- I know we have used it, but there is no such adjective as "choate." There is "inchoate," but the opposite of "inchoate" is not "choate."

MR. BARNHOUSE: All right.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Any more than the -- I don't know.

MR. BARNHOUSE: Well, I'm wrong on the -- on the -

JUSTICE SCALIA: Exactly. Yes. It's like "gruntled."

MR. BARNHOUSE: But I think I am right on the law, Your Honor.

Scalia was apparently trying to make the point that some people mistakenly assume the opposite of “disgruntled” is “gruntled.” Well, Josh Blackmun says gruntled is a word:

Oxford English Dictionary Confirms, gruntled seems to be the opposite of disgruntled.
Definition: Pleased, satisfied, contented.

A law professor responds:

Gruntled is indeed in the dictionary, as the opposite of disgruntled. But it’s pretty clearly not idiomatic, as a Google search shows. So it’s not a mistake to assume that there is a word “gruntled” that’s the opposite of “disgruntled.” But it is a mistake to assume that there is such a word in common usage, and especially in common serious usage (since “gruntled” as the opposite of “disgruntled” has a humorous connotation, I think).

Anyway, a bit closer to home, Dan Christensen has a couple interesting posts about Zachariah P. Zachariah, a top Republican fundraiser.

And of course, everyone is talking and writing about Scott Rothstein and his inner sanctum and intercom and autographs and on and on and on. I find the whole mob mentality a bit sickening. Here's my Friday morning question to you all: Should Scott Rothstein get a bond when he gets arrested?

A bunch of people have been sending me this video, which is unbelievable:

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Above the Law case voluntarily dismissed

Well that was quick.

Here's ATL on the dismissal:

Pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(i)(B), the dismissal is without prejudice. But if Professor Jones were to attempt to refile at this point in time, he would encounter a statute of limitations problem.

There was NO SETTLEMENT in this case. Above the Law has made no changes to our prior posts, and we have paid no money to Professor Jones. The case was dismissed by the plaintiff without anything from our side, except a letter from our lawyer.

Smart move by Professor Jones as the lawsuit appeared frivolous and likely sanctionable. Congrats to ATL.

Federal Bar Association lunch

Fun event today with Judges Gold and Jordan. (Yes, that's my terrible phone camera picture to the left.)
Some of the topics discussed:

Facebook, Blogs, and Roshambo.

And there was even a question about how Iqbal has been affecting the courts. Perhaps SFLawyer was in the audience...

I like Twizzlers

"When you have a Twizzler in your mouth, you can't have a serious conversation."

"The red-colored licorice are kinda sweet ... pleasant tasting. They put you in a good mood."

"There were two ways to eat the Twizzler: Sucking on the licorice, like a baby with a pacifier, or tearing it into small pieces and gobbling it down."

The Twizzlers were there to candy-coat the panel's jangled nerves.
"If you feel frustrated, you now have something to take that frustration out on," Castel said.
Juror No. 1 then carried the red-topped bucket of candy into the jury room.
A day earlier, Castel tried sweet-talking the jury - although he apparently decided that wasn't enough.
"I'm just asking you for help in being kind and considerate to all your fellow jurors," Castel told Juror 7 after her Monday spat with Juror 11.
It was the latest bit of juror animosity in the feds' fourth prosecution of the ex-Gambino family boss. With the racketeering trial in its seventh week, tensions are running high on the anonymous panel.
Earlier, the judge received a juror's letter complaining about Juror 7's abrasive conduct and her love of Gotti's lawyer,
Charles Carnesi. The letter, signed "A Concerned Juror," described Juror 7 as antagonistic and foul-mouthed.
Castel is trying to keep the jury together as the trial heads into its final days. Closing arguments in the case could come as soon as Monday.
Personality clashes among jurors increase the possibility of yet another mistrial for Gotti.
If the panel benefits from the candy karma, they might hear from Gotti before the defense rests. Junior wants to testify, said Carnesi, but he doesn't want to answer questions from prosecutors about crimes involving other people.
Gotti "does not believe he should solve his problems by dumping them" on mob associates, Carnesi said.
The defense team will let Castel know by 5 p.m. today if Gotti is going to take the stand.
"Do I think there is any downside?" Carnesi asked. "No."
The second-generation gangster opted not to testify at his three previous racketeering trials. All ended in hung juries and mistrials.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Above The Law Sued by UM Law Professor Donald Jones

NLJ has the details:

It's the kind of story that tends to get big play on the legal blog Above the Law: A prominent University of Miami School of Law professor and civil rights advocate arrested on suspicion of soliciting an undercover officer for sex.
The blog had plenty of fun with the story in October 2007 with a series of posts about Donald Marvin Jones, whom it dubbed "The Nutty Professor."
The only problem was that it didn't happen that way, and the blog's coverage veered into racism, according to a lawsuit Jones has filed in federal court. He alleged that Above the Law portrayed him in a false light, invaded his privacy and infringed the university's copyright on his faculty photo. Jones seeks $22 million in damages.
An online article about the arrest by David Lat, Above the Law's managing editor, "instigated its readers not only to read the post but also to join in what was clearly a viciously racist series of rants" directed at the African-American professor, the suit claims.
Jones did not respond Monday to calls for comment on the lawsuit, which he filed pro se in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Oct. 27. The suit names Lat, Above the Law publisher David Minkin and parent company Dead Horse Media Inc., now called Breaking Media LLC, as defendants. Lat also declined comment on the suit.

Judge Cooke pulled the case. Here's the complaint.

Where in the world is Scott Rothstein

Thanks to a tipster, we have more evidence that bloggers are taking over the world. This time, they've tracked down Rothstein! No joke.

Key count kicked in case against former head of DEA

Magistrate Judge Robin Rosenbaum recommended (in a 43-page order*) that an obstruction count be dismissed against Tom Raffanello, the former DEA chief and then head of security for Allen Stanford. The Herald has the details here:

Two months after one of Miami's most celebrated drug cops was charged in the Allen Stanford financial scandal, a federal magistrate is recommending that one of the key charges be thrown out.
Judge Robin Rosenbaum said prosecutors failed to prove Tom Raffanello -- head of security for Stanford's worldwide enterprise -- interfered with a federal investigation by ordering the destruction of reams of company documents.
The former Drug Enforcement Administration chief, who left the agency to join Stanford's security force in 2004, was charged with ordering the shredding of records just days after federal agents shut down Stanford's empire in a massive fraud case in February.
Though prosecutors said Raffanello defied a court order by destroying the documents, Rosenbaum said the government failed to show he impeded the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's probe.
The magistrate fell short of rejecting the entire case, however, saying prosecutors were able to show the former drug cop destroyed records in the course of a federal investigation. Her recommendation will be taken up by presiding Judge William Zloch later this month.

You can always count on Sharpie for a good quote:

Raffanello's attorney, Richard Sharpstein, said he was pleased with Rosenbaum's recommendation.
``We hope Judge Zloch not only agrees with Judge Rosenbaum, but throws out the entire case,'' he said.
Lead prosecutor Paul Pelletier could not be reached on Monday. However, prosecutors have argued in prior hearings that Raffanello and co-defendant Bruce Perraud were aware of a judge's order to preserve all company documents when they called a shredding truck to the company's Fort Lauderdale security bunker on February 25.

UPDATED -- Here's the DBR article by John Pacenti.

*Even though it's not 90 pages, Judge Marcus would still be proud.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Blogs crush main stream media

At least on legal stories, no? Take for example the story of Scott Rothstein and his firm Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler. This weekend a story exploded about Rothstein travelling to Morocco amid allegations of fraud. And the Daily Pulp and the BrowardBeat were all over it. MSM limped in on Monday morning with this story, citing to the blogs as breaking it:

The Daily Pulp, a blog by the Broward Palm Beach New Times, reported over the weekend that money is missing from investors. Rothstein could not be reached for comment on his cellphone or by e-mail Sunday.
***, a political blog, reported that several lawyers had been laid off from the firm.
The blog also reported that the firm plans to go to court Monday to ask that a receiver be appointed.

Those two blogs are definitely worth checking out... They are all over this very interesting story. Rothstein has retained firm lawyer Mark Nurik to represent him, and the firm has hired Kendall Coffee.