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White-Collar Crime

Now-Disbarred Lawyer Who Helped Top Partner Scott Rothstein Defraud Client of $57M Gets 2 Years

Posted Sep 2, 2011 12:36 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Back when both Howard Kusnick and Scott Rothstein were well-regarded and seemingly successful partners in a profitable South Florida law firm, Rothstein asked for a favor, and Kusnick, who had practiced with Rothstein for many years, complied.

He wrote a letter that Rothstein used—along with forged Palm Beach County court documents that were prepared without Kusnick's participation—to convince a car-dealer client, Ed Morse, that a viable lawsuit was ongoing. Rothstein, who was then the managing partner of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, defrauded Morse and his wife out of $57 million with the help of the charade, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Today, the 59-year-old Kusnick apologized for writing the letter and was sentenced to two years in prison by a federal judge in West Palm Beach, as well as $310,000 in restitution to Morse. Kusnick was disbarred by consent after he pleaded guilty in June to a federal wire fraud charge.

He said, through his lawyer, that he had no knowledge of the approximately $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme operated by Rothstein, 49, who is also now disbarred and serving a 50-year prison sentence. Rothstein was convicted of racketeering, money laundering and fraud and is in a witness protection program after providing evidence against a reputed Mafia figure.

Meanwhile, two law firm information technology specialists await sentencing in fraud cases concerning the websites they created to make it look like Rothstein had more money in the bank than he did.

And an investigation is continuing in which, federal prosecutors have said in court filings, they anticipate a "multi-defendant" indictment of co-conspirators of Rothstein before the end of 2011.

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