Judge to Compel 2 Rothstein Firm Lawyers to Turn Over Computer Passwords
Posted Feb 24, 2010 1:58 PM CST
By Martha Neil
A judge overseeing the bankruptcy of the dissolving South Florida law firm at the center of a claimed $7 billion Ponzi scheme says he will order two former partners to turn over their passwords to a secure offsite e-mail storage system.
Granting a request by trustee Herbert Stettin, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Raymond Ray said in a hearing yesterday that he would compel partners Russell Adler and Robert Buschel to turn over their Qtask passwords, reports the Daily Business Review.
Buschel argued that granting the trustee access to confidential files violates privacy rights of lawyers who expected, concerning some documents, that even now-disbarred managing partner Scott Rothstein would not be allowed to see them. And Gary Farmer, another ex-partner of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, said he wants the trustee to have the records he needs, but not at the expense of violating the attorney-client privilege protecting his sealed whistle-blower cases.
But an attorney for Stettin said the need to probe financial transactions at the dissolving Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm trumps:
"We need access to inventory files to understand if these are legitimate files," Chuck Lichtman of Berger Singerman told the judge. "We are not looking into the day-to-day dealings of the firm. We're looking into evidence of a Ponzi scheme."
Related earlier coverage:
ABAJournal.com: "Trustee Seeks Law Firm Records to ID Any Other Attorneys in $1.2B Rothstein Scheme"
Miami Herald: "Movement of money within Scott Rothstein law firm raises questions"
NBC Miami: "Rothstein's Wife Collecting Rent on Forfeited Homes"