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Rothstein in Upbeat Mood, Says He’s Smoking Cigars with His Lawyer

Posted Nov 9, 2009 8:17 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Florida lawyer under investigation for an alleged Ponzi scheme says he’s doing just fine, but the lawyer representing him begs to differ.

Lawyer Scott Rothstein spoke to the Miami Herald while holed up in an undisclosed location with his lawyer, Marc Nurik. “I am sitting here smoking cigars with Marc,'' Rothstein told the newspaper. “Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I'm doing pretty good.''

Rothstein then handed the phone to Nurik, who said they had not actually been smoking cigars. “He is under a lot of pressure,'' Nurik told the publication. “I don't want anybody to think he is having a good time.'' During the interview, “Rothstein could be heard heartily laughing in the background,” the story says.

Rothstein is under investigation for selling investments in what may have been phony settlements, causing as much as $500 million in investor losses. His Fort Lauderdale law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, is said to have only about $300,000 in available funds.

Meanwhile, Rothstein’s lavish spending included gifts to some people in his law firm. Rothstein gave a Ferrari to name partner Stu Rosenfeldt, and sold a $475,000 home to assistant Debra Villegas for $100, the Sun Sentinel reports. The headline on the column reads, “With gifts like luxury cars and homes, were Rothstein's associates blinded by the flash?"

According to the Miami Herald, Rothstein moved assets through at least 30 shell corporations that he and other law associates created. Seven of his properties were transferred to companies based in Delaware, a state with business-friendly laws that help protect assets from creditors, the story says. He also had offshore accounts under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, sources told the newspaper.

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