Did Reporter Drop Hints of Rothstein Suspicions in ‘Puff Piece’ Article?
Posted Nov 12, 2009 11:47 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A columnist for the Sun-Sentinel says he had had heard “speculation and whispers” last year about Scott Rothstein, the South Florida lawyer suspected of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme involving the sale of phony legal settlements.
Critics say any suspicions were nowhere evident in Michael Mayo’s “puff piece” about Rothstein published in the Sun-Sentinel last November. But Mayo says in a new Sun-Sentinel column that he raised some red flags through references to Joe Pesci wiseguy characters and Tom Wolfe’s “master of the universe” phrase, suggesting a flawed character eventually cut down to size.
The original story began this way:
I'll turn to the Yiddish of my grandparents to describe Scott Rothstein, a fast-talking, fast-rising Fort Lauderdale lawyer, businessman and political juggernaut. In a town that has long been dominated by good ol' boys, the Bronx-born Rothstein has become a macher.
That means big shot. With a persona that's part Joe Pesci wiseguy, part H. Wayne Huizenga entrepreneur and part Imelda Marcos spender, Rothstein, 46, has roared from relative obscurity to the top of the local power structure in astonishing time.
"I'm going to ride this wave as long as God allows," Rothstein said Saturday.
Mayo also points to these paragraphs asking questions about Rothstein’s rise to the top and the growth of his law firm:
Nobody knows whether Rothstein's flash will last or whether it's built on quicksand.
"People wonder if it's a house of cards, but all you have to do is look at our lawyers and clients. I am a businessman first ... this was a calculated risk, and it worked."